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Car rental options in Toronto

Posted by Robyn Urback / January 22, 2011

Toronto Rental CarCar rental in Toronto can be a little overwhelming. Options are seemingly endless, but determining when and how you plan on using the car seems to be the best way to determine which company to use. For all of the options available, though, I haven't been able to find a company that makes hybrids consistently available for one- or two-day use. In any case, here are some options for renting a car in Toronto. Keep in mind that rates can vary considerably based on how early you book and which pickup location you choose.

A big chain, obviously the advantage is a wide selection of vehicles to choose from and several pickup locations (nine in Toronto). You can get a midsized car for one day from around $50 all in, with unlimited free kilometers. Hertz has a pickup location at Pearson International Airport, though rates are generally more expensive at the airport.

Another big chain, this one advertises two locations that offer hybrid vehicles. I called both, and found out that neither actually has hybrids currently in its fleet. Hm. Enterprise seems to be just slightly cheaper than Hertz, but within a few dollars. There are 21 pickup locations advertised in the GTA (Toronto and surrounding areas), one of which is at Pearson.

Budget seems to be right on par with the other chains, at about $50 all in for an economy car for one day with unlimited free kilometres. However, depending on which pickup location use choose (10 in Toronto, plus one at Pearson), the price can fluctuate within a few dollars.

Dollar has 15 locations in the GTA including pickup at Pearson. A midsized car for one day will cost around $50 with unlimited free kilometres. If you're booking through their website, look out for the "City Special" tab which can get you a discount of about $8.

National has just two locations in Toronto; one near Metro Hall and one at Pearson. A midsized car for one day will cost about $47 with unlimited kilometres from Metro Hall, and considerably more (~$77) from Pearson.

Might be worth considering Avis if you think you'll need a car for an extended period of time. It offers a "mini-lease" program for a minimum of two months. Prices vary considerably depending on when you'll start the lease, how long you plan on having it, and what type of vehicle you want, so best to call to get a quote. Avis has nine pickup locations in Toronto including one at the airport, and daily rates are around $53 with unlimited kilometres included.

GTA Exotics
For all your impress-your-first date needs. You can rent a Ferrari 355 Spyder for $599 a day (more on weekends), plus $75 for insurance, plus a $5,000 security deposit, plus $0.95 per kilometer after 100. But the look on your date's face will surely be priceless...

A more long-term option for car rental. Zipcar offers two membership plans; an occasional driving plan with an annual fee of $65 and an extra value plan with no annual fee but a minimum $50 per month commitment. The advantage is you don't have to worry about paying for gas or insurance as with typical car rentals, and there's less hassle when booking. See also: Autoshare

Kaizen Rent-A-Car
A homegrown option for car rental is Kaizen's. The rental company sprung up in Toronto about a year and a half ago and offers midsize rentals for about $45 a day, with 200 km included.

Wheels 4 Rent
Another local option, this company doesn't advertise specifically which vehicles are in its fleet, but offers slightly lower rates. Daily rentals for cars start at $36 plus tax and 200km included.

Did I miss any good car rental options? Add them to the comments below.

Photo by Jeff Howard on Flickr



Tania / January 22, 2011 at 09:50 am
One thing to add about Zipcar is you have the option to rent by the hour rather than the minimum day or two most companies require. Generally, the cost runs from $8-15, depending on the day/car. Really great for Ikea/grocery store runs.

Autoshare is another company which runs on the same concept as Zipcar as well.
Oni / January 22, 2011 at 09:50 am
How about AutoShare and Rent-A-Wreck?
cathode / January 22, 2011 at 09:53 am
Another option with Zipcar is to join as a business. Higher initial cost, but lower hourly rates during the week, no monthly charge, and cheaper to add more drivers to the account instead of having a spouse join solo, for example.
Beep-beep / January 22, 2011 at 09:56 am
There are tons more options for renting and much better prices out there. I rent every weekend from downtown locations and never pay $50 a day. Articles, if the intent is to provide any insight, should be way better researched. This doesn't tell you anything new or helpful.
TokyoTuds / January 22, 2011 at 10:06 am
Definite shout-out to Canadian born-and-bred AutoShare.
Teena / January 22, 2011 at 10:57 am
I have an Enterprise in my 'hood that I use occasionally. They rent to production companies a lot so the prices fluctuate greatly given the demand ($50 one day and $70 the next), which isn't fair to the rest of us.

I've found that you can talk them down. I noticed that Budget's rates online were cheaper than Enterprise's and Enterprise matched them when I called them.
Tuzanor / January 22, 2011 at 11:33 am
One thing about hertz that's nice is you're allowed to take them to the states.
Rezwan replying to a comment from Beep-beep / January 22, 2011 at 11:58 am
Care to share which one?
Colin / January 22, 2011 at 12:19 pm
You seem to have forgotten Discount Similar rates to the other chains, but the locations might be more convenient for some folks.
Tara / January 22, 2011 at 01:59 pm
Which rental car companies allow you to take them to the states? Hertz is news to me!! Good news! Thanks Tuzanor for the info.
Derek replying to a comment from Beep-beep / January 22, 2011 at 09:56 pm
I've modified your comment for sake of accuracy (hope you don't mind):

"There are few other options for renting cars in Toronto with better prices that I can name, but because I have nothing better to do, I'm going to feign that I rent every weekend from downtown locations and never pay $50 a day. Comments, if the intent is to provide any insight, should be way better researched. Apologies, I'm aware that I haven't told you anything new or helpful."
Colin / January 22, 2011 at 11:53 pm
Living car free right now so looking at alot of these options. My main complaint with Zipcar is the 200km/day limit and alot of the hidden fees, like the cancellation fees and late fees.

Most people without car ( and their own insurance ) need to be aware that third-party insurance coverage is NOT provided by most credit cards. They only include loss insurance on the car you rent, you should be getting a third-party coverage when you rent a car. The best company I've found for breading out third-party per day is Budget at $7/day. Most bundle it with their loss insurance and other $0 deductible insurance for much more per day. The other consideration with insurance is getting your partner added as a 2nd driver. Each rental company has different criteria and costs for this...

I've also tried Rent-A-Wreck and Practicar but I can't really recommend either prices start at $35/day but the cars are quite old. In one case it was former smoking car complete embedded nicotine...
tocheshire / January 23, 2011 at 12:44 am
Avis and Budget are the same company, so is Dollar and Thrifty. Enterprise bought National and is the biggest rental company in the world. Hertz is huge also.

In terms of rental - best option is Priceline (or other name your price website). Since the rental companies don't manufacture the cars - do you really care where you rent from? As long as the location is convenient, all the companies are more or less the same.

If you are going to be renting ALOT (like more than once a month) then it may become beneficial to stick with one company, as the frequent rental perks add up quickly (esp. if it is a corporate expense).

Two final tips.

1- If you have a "good" gold credit card - you can skip the insurance. By "good" I mean a card that typically requires an annual fee and is issued by a bank (no capital one-esque cards). Insurance is self-underwritten by the rental companies. It is a cash-cow for them. They will hate it, but if your card covers rental - use it (this also helps justify a better credit card with an annual fee)

2- If you are going to use Priceline for a weekend rental, pick a 'midsize' and a pickup time after 6PM if you can.... why? Rental companies (like airlines) will oversell their fleets. So after 6 on a weekend, more than likely all the midsizes will be rented and you will get offered something nicer/substantial. I have picked up several luxury-esque and SUVs for a weekend just because I let all the keeners take their cars first. FYI - never pick economy if you can afford the extra $5/day for a 'midsize'. There are a million 'economy' cars in the fleet - midsize sells out quickly. Best chance for an upgrade.
clippingimages / January 23, 2011 at 01:29 am
Nice idea.Thank you.
Kristin / January 24, 2011 at 11:32 am
I’ve been an AutoShare member for last 5 years and really think their services are great. They are upfront about all their prices and you end up paying less with them than other car sharing services in the city (I've compared them with the others).

What I like most is that they are based and staffed in Toronto, which is really cool and makes any type of interaction seamless. I’ve never had an issue accessing vehicles and I can’t say enough good things about their work and community involvement. For those who like to think ‘local’ these guys are really worth looking into.
irina / January 30, 2011 at 02:14 pm
Good starter post... Many companies are missing. Comments are great. Thanks other Torontonians!

Zipcar is awesome but expensive. Now that I'm 25 I'll greatly inconvenience myself and try some more affordable companies.
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WJC / June 16, 2012 at 06:06 pm
Be wary of Budget Rent A Car - they have many hidden charges. They tried to charge me $129 for fuel even though I returned the car with a full tank and also charged me a $75 "cleaning" fee a month after I returned it. Take pictures of the car on return to protect yourself, or better yet - rent from someone else.
Tourist / August 2, 2012 at 10:14 am
Be aware of Zoom rent-a-car: they have hidden charges and charged me 530 $ for a 5 cm long scrape on the edge of the bumper (an area not visible but checked very first time).
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Greg / December 30, 2012 at 04:47 pm
Beep Beep, do you know of any rental car companies in Toronto that rent hybrids?
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DiscountCar / June 4, 2013 at 11:14 am
There are many options for car rental in Toronto.
Shannon / July 22, 2013 at 08:59 am
Does anyone know the best options for renting a car for a weekend from Toronto to say Muskoka??!?1
caroljane / September 8, 2013 at 05:38 pm
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One thing to add, definitely do NOT use Practicar (Formerly Rent-a-Wreck) in Toronto. I'd used them once or twice because they're cheap, but recently I booked a car over Christmas, with an online confirmation number and everything, only to call on the 24th to say I was coming to get it, and to be told there was nothing available! Seriously, they didn't even call to tell me to find other plans. If I hadn't called ahead I would have been even worse off. No offer to help me find another vehicle (I did, eventually, with Discount) just sorry, no cars. On F-ing Christmas! Never again with them.
Jack / January 20, 2015 at 05:53 pm
Hi Robin, not a local, but i've used a couple of times flying into YYZ - it seems to have all the big names at the plus a local supplier named Routes (not on your list) which I booked for $21 a day last year, car was decent for the price, but you had to take a shuttle. The Airport site usually has better deals and more car companies than Priceline. I did come across Yellow Car Rental recently which also offers YYZ airport service, I was wondering if anyone heard of them?
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We went to zoom rent a car and here's what happened: My wife and I flew up from the U.S.A. Yesterday (July 4th) we didn't have a car reservation. So when we got to YYZ we research places and Zoom came out to be the cheapest. We called for the shuttle and few minutes later the unmarked van showed up with a man that stank of alcohol and cigarettes. We got back to the location and found that the driver is the location owner. As they're about to do up the contract this "owner" starts hitting on my wife right in front of me. Asking her to go out that night. Not very professional if you ask me. We left without a car. We called a cab back to the airport to get a rental from a legit business. And the owner went to get back into the van I'm guessing to pick up other customers so I called OPP as you could tell he was drinking. If you value your life and your family rent elsewhere
Grandma24 / July 15, 2015 at 01:51 am
We booked a passenger van from Zoom Rent a Car at Dixie Road, Mississauga online through, the booking clearly state that the rental is "Unlimited Mileage", but when we went picked up the vehicle, we were told it is only "200 km" per day, the terms and conditions is hidden in a subsequent page.

When we told him that we do not want to rent the vehicle any more, he said we have to pay for the full amount regardless, the cancellation charge for this misrepresentation is full penalty.

The person at the counter was rude and arrogant, he basically told us that Rent a Car is pocketing all the proceed and it is us who is not careful enough to read a hidden page in the terms and conditions and therefore responsible for the consequence.
Be aware, do not rent from this company.
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