How to Choose Limited or Unlimited Mileage in Car Rentals

by Aurelio Locsin

A rental car with limited mileage is typically cheaper than one with unlimited mileage, so it's your best renting option if you plan drive only a few miles each day: For example, your car may be in the shop for a week and you need the rental to commute from work to home for 10 miles or so. On the other hand, if you're traveling for a great distance, like on an interstate trip, an unlimited mileage car will save you money. You can determine the best choice for you rental by performing a few simple calculations.

Browse a mapping site like MapQuest (See Resources for link) to determine the total number of miles that you expect to travel during the rental period. Enter the origin and destination addresses to display the mileage per trip. Don't forget to double that amount for round trips.

Divide the total miles by the number of rental days to figure the average number of miles traveled per day. For example, if you're planning to travel a total of 240 miles for four days, then 240 divided by 4 equals an average of 60 miles per day.

Choose limited mileage if this average number is lower than the daily mileage. For example, if your mileage allowance is 70 miles per day, your 60-mile drive is less, making the limited plan a good choice. Otherwise, you'll need to calculate to determine your selection.

Multiply the number of excess miles per day by the mileage rate to get additional mileage charge per day. For example, if you're using 60 miles per day and your allowance is 30 miles per day, your excess is 30. Multiplying 30 by the 25-cent-per-mile charge yields $7.50.

Add the excess to your daily rental to determine the total daily charge. For example, adding $7.50 to a $30 per day rate sums up to $35.00.

Choose the unlimited mileage option if the total limited charge exceeds the unlimited rate. For example, if the total charge is $35.00 per day, and the unlimited rate is $32.50 per day, choose the unlimited rate because you can save $3.50 a day. Otherwise, stick with the limited plan. For example, if the unlimited charge is $40 per day and your total charge is $35, you'll save $5 with the limited plan.


  • check An example of a nationally-recognized car rental agency that offers unlimited mileage is Avis (See Reference 1). One with both limited and unlimited plans is Budget. (See Reference 2).

About the Author

Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.

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