Car rental San Francisco Airport

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Explore with a San Francisco Airport car rental 

Dynamic, diverse, hilly, scenic, and high-tech: San Francisco is many things to many people. It’s also home to some iconic sights and attractions. Here’s where you can drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, stand on the corner of Haight and Ashbury, see the Painted Ladies, shop and eat at Fisherman’s Wharf, and take a boat trip out to craggy and curious Alcatraz.

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Car rental locations at San Francisco Airport

There are rental companies supplying vehicles both on and off the airport in San Francisco. When you opt for an off-airport rental, there will be a free shuttle service included to get you from the terminals to the rental depot and vice versa. 

On-airport suppliers will be located in the Rental Car Center near the airport’s long-term parking, while off-airport suppliers will have depots close by. 

Aerial view of San Francisco CBD.

Tips and info for a smooth car rental from San Francisco

This beautiful and bustling city is packed onto a relatively small peninsula, and the wider metro area sprawls south and east towards the “mainland” where Redwood City, San Jose, Oakland, and other urban centers of the Bay Area add to the fun. With your own rental car from San Francisco, it’s possible to see it all and more. Because let’s not forget what lies beyond the Bay: The gorgeous state of California. With wine country to the north, LA to the south, and Yosemite inland, there’s no wrong direction to take.

San Francisco Airport guide 

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is located 13 miles south of the city center in San Mateo county. A huge range of flights to and from locations across North America and the world arrive and depart from there, making it a very busy air hub for the United States. The airport has four runways and four terminals. There is also a museum on site.  

Travelers and visitors to the terminals will find an array of shops and eateries to keep them fed and entertained. There is also eye-catching art incorporated throughout the airport and several kids’ areas. Free WiFi is available along with medical services, banking services, accessible and inclusive facilities of all kinds, and concierges.  

The AirTrain is a fully automated people mover service that operates throughout SFO. The Rental Car Center is accessible on the Blue Line of the AirTrain and is a central location housing all on-airport rental providers. It operates all day and night to provide 24-hour rental car services. 

Driving your rental car in San Francisco

A safe road trip is a good road trip. And with a little local knowledge and some brushing up on the most important road rules, you can make sure your rental car journey is memorable in all the right ways. 

  • The most important thing to remember, particularly for those arriving from commonwealth and ex-commonwealth nations, is that in the United States all traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road. 
  • California has a “basic speed law” which means you can never drive faster than is safe for current conditions. The speed limit on highways is usually 65 mph, although there are stretches where it is 70 mph. In residential areas, the default limit is 30 mph. Always check posted signs for accurate information. 
  • California law requires all occupants of a moving vehicle to wear a seatbelt or, for those under eight years of age, to wear an appropriate child restraint. 
  • San Francisco is a big city and has heavy commuting traffic. Try to avoid driving urban routes during typical peak traffic times. 
  • Watch out for cyclists and pedestrians, as they are very common on the city streets. There are also cable cars to be avoided. 
  • The blood alcohol concentration limit for drivers aged 21 (the legal drinking age) and over is 0.08%. 
  • You can have additional authorized drivers when driving your car rental in San Francisco. All drivers should have their valid driver's license requirements upon registration and only permitted additional driver are allowed to drive your car rental from SFO.

Cars driving down Lombard Street.

Top destination picks for your rental car trip 

If you’re sticking to the Bay Area and its immediate surroundings, there is no end of things to see and do. And with your own set of wheels, it’s easy to get around to them all. Here are a few ideas to get you started: 

Fisherman’s Wharf 

If you’re looking to see the most famous sights of San Francisco, head to this bustling and iconic neighborhood. The historic waterfront is packed with great seafood restaurants, museums, piers, and sea views. Visitors are often delighted by the sea lion colony at Pier 39. Nearby are other inner-city precincts including Chinatown, Embarcadero, and the Marina District. 

San Francisco Zoo and Gardens 

This fantastic facility is located southwest of the central city, on the Pacific coast. There’s something for everyone here: an array of animals, conservation displays and education, gardens, rides, and more. Plan to spend a whole day! 

Golden Gate National Recreation Area 

Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco. Head over the iconic bridge in your SF car rental and you’ll soon be at this expansive urban park which combines bridge and ocean views with several museums, great biodiversity, Pacific coast beaches, and wilderness in which to wander. Did you know that Alcatraz island is actually a part of this park? 

Oakland and Berkeley 

With a rental car from San Francisco, you can head across the Bay to visit these cities which fly under the radar a little—but are packed with attractions and excitement. On this side of the water, you’ll find the University of California campus, the bustling Jack London Square, iconic Fox Theatre, Berkeley Marina, frequent festivals and events, and much more. 

Napa 

You can make a day trip visit to Napa with your car rental from San Francisco Airport and enjoy this beautiful wine country—just make sure you have a sober driver, or book a tour and an overnight stay! There’s more here than just grapes and what’s made from them. It’s a gorgeous region with rolling hills and valleys, fabulous old buildings, and top-notch food. 

Stinson Beach and Muir Woods 

Head north from San Francisco for an hour or so and you’ll soon be amongst the redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument. Northern California is known for these stunning trees. Nearby is Stinson Beach, a lovely coastal community with a long and sweeping stretch of sand. An ideal day trip for those seeking some natural beauty and a bit of peace. 

If you’re planning an extensive road trip from San Francisco, there are many fantastic destinations within reach. Continue your journey to explore Las Vegas, Los Angeles or Phoenix in your rental car. Alternatively, you can pick up a car rental at Seattle Airport or John Wayne Airport and start your adventure from there. Get the best deals for your USA car hire holiday when you book with GoSee!

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Car Rental San Francisco Airport: Frequently asked questions

See all of our FAQs

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

Many car rental companies in the US have made adjustments to their procedures and policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read about these on the individual websites of each provider if you would like to know more. 

How much does it cost to rent a car in San Francisco? 

Car rental prices will vary hugely depending on the supplier, the vehicle, and the time of year. For a very rough estimate, you might expect to pay a little more than $USD50 per day for a cheap San Francisco car rental, and several hundred per day for a high-end vehicle. 

The car rental process with GoSee is so simple, convenient, and secure. To find a car rental from San Francisco International Airport, enter the relevant details into the search panel on this page. You can see a wide range of options that cover all categories, and narrow them down according to what you need and what is affordable. 

Do I need to rent a car in San Francisco? 

If you are planning on sticking 100% to the city center, then a car rental from San Francisco Airport may not be worth it. However, there is so much to see in the wider Bay Area—so if you’d like to explore a little, having your own rental car to get around is a great asset. 

How do I find the best car hire deals at San Francisco Airport? 

To search out the best SFO airport car rental deals, enter your dates and other details into the GoSee search engine at the top of this page. You can sort the listings by “lowest price first” to spot the cheapest car rentals, and also use filters to make sure you’re getting one that suits your requirements. 

With the advantage of bulk buying power and established relationships with car rental suppliers worldwide, GoSee can bring you some of the best prices on rental vehicles. We negotiate great deals and pass the savings on to our customers. 

What tips are there for hiring a car at San Francisco Airport? 

If you’re staying primarily within urban areas and aren’t planning on any long road trips, we recommend opting for a smaller vehicle like a compact car, as this will be easier to park and maneuver in the tight roads and spaces of San Francisco. 

What is included in the rental rate?

What’s included in the total rate for your San Francisco International Airport car rental varies with each company. When you are making your selection and booking, ensure you read all the terms and conditions to see what is and isn’t included. 

After you have pre-selected your choices for your desired rental vehicle, you will find everything itemized that’s included in the car hire. Extras like unlimited mileage and insurance may be included in the base rate or may need to be added as extras, so select carefully before you finalize your booking. 

What car rental companies are at San Francisco Airport? 

On-airport rental companies at San Francisco Airport are located in the Rental Car Center. 

Choose from a wide range of vehicles and get the best car rental at San Francisco Airport from these trusted brands.

On-Airport Car Rental Agencies:

  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Dollar Car Rental
  • Enterprise and National
  • Sixt
  • Hertz
  • Thrifty

Off-Airport Car Rental Agencies:

  • NÜ Car Rentals
  • Airport Van Rental
  • Payless
  • Fox Car Rental

What types of cars can I rent from San Francisco Airport?

There is a wide range of vehicle types available for your car rentals at San Francisco Airport: compact and economy cars, intermediate/standard and full-size sedans, SUVs, people movers and minivans, convertibles, and even small trucks. 

Are there car rentals with unlimited mileage? 

Yes, many SF rent a car companies offer unlimited mileage. This will be listed clearly as a feature in the search results.

What is the speed limit in San Francisco? 

The speed limit on most urban streets is 30 mph. On highways, it is often 65 mph but can go as high as 70 mph. Always check the posted signs for an accurate speed limit.