Car rental Charleston, SC

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Rent a car in Charleston, South Carolina and hit the road

Hospitable and elegant Charleston is a fantastic place to begin your adventure in the USA. It has an old-world charm and plenty of interesting heritage to enjoy, but you don’t need to be a history buff to find Charleston endlessly appealing. It’s also known for great food, romantic architecture, and its proximity to the scenic beaches of the South Carolina coast. 

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Charleston, SC Airport car rental locations

Rental car companies supplying vehicles to Charleston Airport can be found in the Rental Car Pavilion. This is located at the end of the terminal building beyond the baggage claim. The drop-off area for customers returning vehicles is on level one of the five-tier parking deck. 

Suppliers operating from the Rental Car Pavilion at Charleston Airport include Enterprise, Hertz, Avis, Budget, National, and Alamo. 

A street with picturesque buildings and palm trees in Charleston, South Carolina.

What you should know for your Charleston car rental journey

A road trip from Charleston is an unforgettable journey and with a little preparation, you can enjoy it safely and incident-free. We've put together a few tips and information to get you started.  

  • Always drive your Charleston car rental on the right-hand side of the road in the United States! 
  • Charleston experiences heavy traffic during typical commute periods. If possible, avoid the roads during peak times. 
  • Distances are expressed in miles throughout the USA, and speeds in miles per hour. 
  • The highest speed limit in South Carolina is 70 mph, and this is allowed on specific sections of freeway. In urban areas, the most common limit is 30 mph.  
  • When traveling on Interstate highways, particularly the busy ones such as the nearby I-95, be aware of trucks and road trains. Watch your speed, and leave the left-hand lane for overtaking.
  • The blood alcohol concentration limit for drivers aged 21+ in South Carolina is 0.08%. Visitors to the country, remember that it is illegal for those aged under 21 to drink alcohol at all.

Guide to driving in Charleston and beyond

With a Charleston Airport car rental booked, you will be set to fly in, drive away and explore a beautiful part of the USA’s eastern seaboard and states. There is a string of beaches and beach towns on the coast of both Carolinas, and of course Georgia and Florida beyond. To the north are some famously fantastic US cities including the nation’s capital and the Big Apple. Head inland for a stately southern road trip to the musical hotspots of Atlanta and Nashville. 

Airport guide 

Charleston International Airport (IATA: CHS) is South Carolina’s busiest airport and also home to a Boeing assembly facility. On the civilian side, it has one large terminal building which serves an array of airlines. 

Passengers and visitors have access to several dining outlets at Charleston Airport, ranging from takeaways and grab-and-go kiosks to pub-style eateries. There is also shopping on-site and a shared-use lounge with day passes available. The airport offers free WiFi, plentiful power outlets, service animal relief areas, and other amenities. It also features a varied permanent art collection. 

Rental car counters are located in the Rental Car Pavilion near the baggage claim. There is a five-tier parking deck opposite the terminal. 

A bridge with the sun setting in the background.

Destination ideas for your Charleston, SC car rental 

If you’re flying into Charleston with the intent to embark on a lengthy USA road trip, the possibilities are endless. Many sunseeker visitors head south towards Florida, where the sizzling cities of Jacksonville, West Palm Beach or Miami await. A car rental trip in Orlando is also a great option. Another popular direction to take is north towards Washington D.C, New York, Boston, and the wider New England region. Inland, the entire midwest awaits. 

If you’re sticking closer to the city, you won’t be bored—there’s so much to see inside the city limits or within a few hours’ drive with your car rental Charleston, SC Airport. Here are a few ideas: 

The French Quarter 

To really enjoy the beautiful architecture and good vibes of the city, head your Charleston car rental to the French Quarter and wander aimlessly for a while. This part of the city is gorgeous and filled with galleries, churches, and history. 

Middleton Place 

Get your garden fix at this iconic National Historic Landmark just 15 miles from the city. Once a plantation, it is now a museum and is home to the oldest landscaped gardens in the country, offering a fascinating mixture of beautiful nature and interesting stories from the past, including a look into slavery practices. 

Folly Beach 

A pier at Folly Beach in the daytime. If you’re keen to hit the sand near Charleston, Folly Beach would be your first port of call. This popular vacation spot is lined with holiday homes and has a laid-back, friendly vibe. There’s plenty to do and see here, including shopping, dining, and water-based pursuits. 

Beaufort 

This stately southern city is around a one-and-a-half hour drive southwest of Charleston, ideal for history lovers due to its significance in the Civil War. A favorite activity here is visiting the old mansions while on your rental cars Charleston SC tour. 

Huntington Beach State Park 

Nature-lovers should make the two-hour drive north with your rental car Charleston SC to Huntington Beach State Park. With a sweeping Grand Strand Beach, great birdwatching, a freshwater lake, and very diverse wildlife, it’s a great spot for outdoor recreation. 

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Rental cars Charleston, SC: Frequently asked questions

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How much does it cost to rent a car from Charleston Airport? 

The cost of car rentals in Charleston SC will vary depending on the supplier, type of vehicle, and time of year. An economy car rental or compact vehicle is a cheap option, while a luxury car rental in Charleston SC will be more expensive.

As a rough guide, you could expect to pay somewhere between USD$30-$40 per day (outside of a peak season) and as much as USD$400+ for a luxury SUV rental or other large vehicle. To find cheap car rental options that suit your plans, search via the search panel on this page and use the filters to narrow down the list. You can arrange the results with the highest or lowest price first to find something that fits your budget. Don't forget to enter your discount code (if you have any) before you complete your booking.

What is the cheapest car rental agency at Charleston Airport? 

The title of cheapest rental car company in Charleston Airport can change quickly, but consistently affordable options include Budget, Hertz, and Avis. However, if you prefer an off-airport budget location, you can also get Charleston car rentals from any of the brands nearby.

What type of car is recommended for driving in Charleston? 

For driving rental cars in Charleston, SC, a compact car or small sedan is very adequate and also easier to park. If you are planning a longer road trip, a larger vehicle may be more comfortable. 

How old do you have to be to rent a car in Charleston? 

In the USA most suppliers of car rentals will only rent their vehicles to those aged 20+ or 21+. Some will rent to customers aged 18+. Young driver fees are common and can apply up to 25 years of age in some cases. 

To make sure that you are seeing the right options, enter your age when you search. 

 Can I rent a car for a month or longer from Charleston Airport? 

Yes, you can. Enter your desired dates to see the options.

Which car rental companies are at Charleston Airport? 

At Charleston International Airport, you can find car rentals from brands such as Enterprise, Hertz, Budget, Avis, Alamo, and National. If you are coming from a downtown Charleston location, these companies have depots nearby too. For instance, an off-site Enterprise location is just 20 minutes away from the airport.

Which car rental companies in Charleston have updated their vehicle cleaning and safety policies because of Coronavirus (COVID-19)? 

Many car rental suppliers in Charleston, SC will have amended policies and processes in response to COVID-19. You can find out more on their individual websites. 

Can I collect a car from Charleston Airport and return it somewhere else? 

Yes, the companies at Charleston Airport are nationwide chains and allow one-way rentals. You can collect a vehicle from Charleston and drop off the rental car in Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville or at other car rental locations nationwide. Enter your desired pick-up and drop-off location when searching. 

What is the speed limit in Charleston? 

The speed limit in residential areas is usually 30 mph. Rural undivided roads can have limits up to 55 mph, and rural divided roads or urban freeways are generally set at 60 mph. Rural freeways can have limits of 70 mph. Check posted signs for accurate speed limit information while driving your car rental. 

What do I need to bring with me when picking up my rental car from Charleston Airport? 

To pick up your car rental in Charleston, SC, you should bring your rental confirmation, driver’s license, and the credit card used to make the booking.