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Cheap Car Hire Australia Wide

Big savings on Australian car Rental

Compare the best car hire deals from over 20 rental brands in 400 locations across Australia. Avis, Hertz, Budget, Thrifty, Europcar, Enterprise, SIXT, Ace and many more. 

  • Low prices
  • Huge choice of brands
  • No booking fees
  • No credit card fees*
  • Instant confirmations
  • Free cancellation on most cars
  • Free amendments on most cars
  • 24/7 customer service

* Some rental car suppliers may charge a credit card fee for amounts payable on arrival.

4WD rental

Quick and easy to find what we wanted. Will recommend you to our friends.

Peggy Thomas USA

No problem finding and booking a car.

Lisa Plummer Australia

Great price and easy to book. Thanks.

Jan Williams NZ

Shopping around for the best car hire deals and visiting one website after another to compare prices can be frustrating. There’s a better way!

Whether you live in Australia or are visiting from overseas, MatesRates Car Hire makes renting a car easy. With a few clicks you can instantly compare car hire prices offered by over 23 different brands at rental car locations throughout Australia.

Wherever you need to hire a car, we can save you time and money!

You’ll find some of the cheapest rates on rental cars in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart or pretty well every other major town and airport around Australia.

There are rental cars for business, for families, and for backpackers. And campervan rental is also available for amazing road trips around Australia.

All at the best prices.

But isn’t it cheaper to go direct?

You might expect the prices you see here are what you’d pay by going direct, but with an added markup.

The good news is they’re not.

In fact, you’ll invariably pay less than by booking direct with a rental car company.

That’s because the rental companies are all here in one place competing for your business. Our comparison engine enables you to instantly compare car hire companies side-by-side. So to win your business, they give us their best prices. Savings that get passed on to you!

And besides saving money, you’ll also save time because you don’t need to visit one website after another to compare deals.

Brands you can trust

Unlike some other car rental comparison websites, we don’t limit your options to only a handful of car hire brands. Here you'll find all the well known international brands, plus many independent Australian car hire brands. That means you get maximum choice and lower prices. 

  • Abaa
  • Ace
  • Advance
  • Alamo
  • Alpha
  • Apex
  • Avis
  • Bargain
  • Budget
  • Dollar
  • East Coast
  • Enterprise
  • Europcar
  • Hertz
  • Jucy
  • Keddy
  • National
  • No Birds
  • SIXT
  • Thrifty
  • Yes Drive

Excellent customer service. Thank you for your help.

Sophie Lynch Australia

Easy to use and make a booking. Will be back again.

Tom Greene Australia

Fair prices. Fast reply by customer service.

Brad Johnson USA

Why Choose Us

Bookings are powered by one of the world's biggest car rental comparison engines. It's booked over 2.8 million rentals and hundreds of bookings are made daily.

Instant confirmations

Making your booking is simple and quick. Usually bookings are confirmed instantly. This means you can get on with organising the rest of your trip and not worry about vehicle availability.

Free amendments

If things need to change, free amendments and free cancellations apply for most cars. We also offer some great deals on car rental insurance if you need this.

No booking charges

What you see is what you pay. No booking charges for rental cars.

Pay direct

Apart from any deposit requirements when you make your booking, you pay the rental firm directly for your vehicle when you collect it.

No credit card charges

You won't get hit with credit card charges for payments made on this site.

[Note: some rental car suppliers may charge a credit card fee for any amounts payable on arrival. These are specified by each rental brand - to view, click the Useful Info link for any vehicle you're interested in on the booking results page.]

Refundable deposits

Some - but not all - operators require payment of a deposit at the time of booking. Deposits are refundable for cancellations made prior to a defined time. This varies by supplier and is advised at time of booking. For many, it's 72 hours before pickup.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to hire a car in Australia?

It’s not really possible to provide a meaningful answer to this question. Car rental rates in Australia vary widely and prices depend on a range of factors. These include the pick-up location; the time of year; vehicle availability; the car hire company; its depot location (on-airport or off-airport); the make and model of vehicle, and its age.

The lowest prices are older compact and economy-sized cars from local Australian operators with ‘off-airport’ depots. Their prices typically start from around AUD$30 a day. At the other end of the scale are the near-new, low-mileage vehicles from ‘on-airport’ international car rental brands. These can cost around four times more than equivalent-sized cars from the cheapest budget operators.

To find a rental car that fits your budget and your needs, you need to compare apples with apples. An easy way to do that is using our search engine to instantly compare car hire deals. You can quickly find what you need by using filters to sort results by price, vehicle type, vehicle age, rental company and depot location. You can also see each rental company’s reputation based on user reviews.

The best way to secure the lowest price is to book as early as possible – generally, prices get higher the closer you leave it to pick up date. And while you won’t want to pay more than you need to, bear in mind you get what you pay for. Spending a few extra dollars can go a long way in terms of quality, particularly at the lower price end.

How old do you need to be to hire a car in Australia?

With a valid driving licence, most rental firms will lease their cars to anyone 21 years or older, while some will rent to anyone aged 18 or older. However, if you are under 25 you may see some surcharges. Another common requirement is that drivers have had their licence for at least a year before the time of booking.

What documents do you need to provide when renting a car?

To get yourself on the road, you will need the following:

  • A current driver’s licence from your home country or
  • An International Driving Permit (IDP)
  • IMPORTANT: If you do not have an international licence, and your licence is not in English, then you must carry an English translation of your licence (issued by an approved translator). You’ll need to show the translation so that the rental car company can check what class of licence you hold. If you have a licence but no translation, you may not be allowed to continue driving if you are stopped by the police. For your licence translation to be accepted, you need to use an NAATI certified translator — you can find an NAATI translator here.

Is there a minimum rental period?

Many Australian car hire companies have no minimum rental period, but requirements vary by company.

Can I add an additional driver?

Most car rental companies allow you to add one or more extra drivers, although there is often an extra fee for this. Driving distances in Australia will test the concentration of any driver, no matter how experienced, so it’s a good idea to rotate driving duties when you can, and take frequent breaks. 

How do you pay for a rental vehicle?

How you may pay varies depending on the company you’re renting from, but no companies will accept cash and none will let you leave without your providing a valid credit card (some will take debit cards as payment). Typically, Visa, Mastercard, American Express, China Union Pay, or Union Pay International credit cards are accepted. Depending on the car rental firm, a booking deposit may be charged when you make your reservation. When you collect your car you will need to present a credit card against which any rental charge balance and other fees will be charged.

Will there be other charges?

Nobody wants to be surprised by unexpected fees, so when you make your booking  be sure to check on the following:

  • Mileage limits – most of the time you’ll have unlimited kilometres, but it’s worth checking.
  • Cancellation fees – When you have to change plans, you may be charged a portion of the rental fee as a penalty. You may need to pay anywhere from 10% to 50% of the total cost, depending on when you cancel – leave it to the last minute and you could be paying half the hire cost for a car you’ll never drive. Let the hire company know as soon as you can, and be sure to have their contact information handy!
  • Some rental companies charge airport fees to recoup the cost of having offices at those particular locations. Often these aren't apparent until you start making your booking reservation and mean you end up paying more than the price initially displayed. (NB Any airport fees are are included in the rental fees displayed on this website, so no nasty surprises).
  • Some rental companies charge booking fees. As with airport fees, often these aren't apparent until you start making your booking reservation and mean you end up paying more than the price initially displayed. (NB there are no booking fees for rental cars booked through this website, so the price you see is the price you pay).
  • Refuelling charges. Fill up your tank before drop-off. If it’s not full, expect to pay a premium for having the rental company refuel your vehicle.
  • If you are running late or if you are planning on an after-hours return, be aware there are likely additional charges for out-of-hours returns (how much varies by company).
  • There are typically extra fees for additional drivers (and higher fees when any drivers are 21-25 years of age.
  • If you want any extras, such as a GPS, kids booster seats, snow chains or a roof rack these normally incur additional charges. We recommend pre-booking any extras you require at the time you make your reservation. If you wait until you pick up your vehicle from the depot extras may not be available. And if they are, it adds time before you can hit the road.

What to do when you pick up your rental car

  1. Present a copy of your paperwork including a print-out of your reservation voucher
  2. Have your passport, payment method and drivers licence ready
  3. If you don’t already have insurance that covers the excess charges which apply in the event of an accident or damage to the car, consider purchasing CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) insurance. As noted earlier, there are alternatives which can save you money and provide more cover
  4. Don't allow yourself to be rushed and do an inspection of the vehicle before accepting it. Note any existing damage. It's a good idea to take photos with your phone so there's no debate about pre-existing damage when you return the car.
  5. Make sure the fuel gauge is full. If it's not, take a photo of the gauge.
  6. If the vehicle has any problems or is not what you reserved tell the rental company staff before you accept it. 

How much money do you need to have on your credit or debit card?

Good question but, unfortunately, there’s no simple answer.  Each company has its own policies and requirements. In Australia, as a general rule, these factors will influence how much is put on hold:

  • Age of the driver (higher bonds may be applied for drivers under 25)
  • If you have opted for and purchased additional insurance coverage
  • Whether you have paid with a debit card or credit card (as there are higher holds for debit cards).

Car rental insurance — what you need to know

Rental car insurance is a topic misunderstood by many people and frequently the source for complaints. Let’s face it — insurance is deadly dull, but getting it wrong can be a costly mistake.

Here’s some information that will equip you to make the right decisions and not get ripped off or be out of pocket for substantial costs in the event of an accident.

When you hire a rental vehicle your charges normally include base insurance for the vehicle. However, as with any insurance policy, an excess applies. This is the amount you are obliged to pay should you be involved in an accident or should there be damage to the vehicle.

The excess amount varies by rental firm, the type of vehicle, and the renter’s age. Usually, it’s $2,000-$3,000 for cars, but for some vehicles (such as campervans) the excess can be as much as $5,000-$7,000!

Your car hire company will charge your credit card an amount equivalent to the insurance excess for the vehicle. The amount charged will vary by hire company and vehicle but may be as much as $2,000 — or even higher. Some rental firms require full authorisation: the excess figure is charged against your credit card at the time you collect the vehicle and refunded only once the vehicle has been returned without damage.

Other companies use pre-authorisation: they don’t charge your card when you collect the vehicle but are authorised to make a charge if the vehicle is returned damaged. (For just this reason, be sure to take before and after pictures when collecting and returning your vehicle.)

No matter how good a driver you may be, it’s risky being liable for insurance excess. The good news is you can reduce this risk by taking extra insurance.

And extra insurance is something car rental firm staff will always try to hard sell you when you collect your rental car.

They'll do their best to convince you to buy CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) insurance which can reduce the excess held against your credit card to zero. CDW coverage is charged at a set rate per day and can substantially add to the cost of renting a car.

Do you really need to buy insurance? 

The short answer is yes. Accidents do happen and the cost of paying insurance excess if you’re not covered can be substantial and spoil your trip. But there are other options to the CDW insurance you may feel pressured to buy when you collect your rental car.

Don’t let yourself be railroaded into buying insurance you don’t need. Some staff in car rental depots can be quite aggressive pushing their CDW insurance because of the commissions they get.

Be aware that you may already have adequate insurance, making any extra insurance the car rental firm is trying to sell you a waste of money. Your travel insurance policy or credit card may include car rental excess cover. But don’t assume they do and check to see what they actually do cover — in many cases, coverage is quite limited.

CDW insurance can come with substantial limitations, so make sure you understand just what you are buying! In many cases, CDW insurance does not cover: broken windscreens, tyre damage, single vehicle accidents (when, for instance, you accidentally drive off the road and into a tree, rather than a collision with another car); damaging the underside or top of the vehicle (a real risk with campervans); locking keys in the vehicle; damage from putting the wrong fuel in the car (petrol instead of diesel, or vice-versa); or colliding with wandering livestock.

A way to mitigate these very real risks which happen every day in Australia is to take comprehensive insurance when you make your rental booking. A comprehensive policy can cost you less than the CDW offered by most rental firms, plus give you better coverage.

How much will my credit card be charged in advance to cover insurance?

Your car hire company will charge your credit card an amount equivalent to the insurance excess for the vehicle. The amount charged will vary by hire company and vehicle but may be as much as $2,000 — or even higher. Some rental firms require full authorisation: the excess figure is charged against your credit card at the time you collect the vehicle and refunded only once the vehicle has been returned without damage.

Other companies use pre-authorisation: they don’t charge your card when you collect the vehicle but are authorised to make a charge if the vehicle is returned damaged.  

When you make a booking, you should be told about these charges — and if you’re not, don’t be afraid to ask. One way to avoid the hassle altogether is to take out the company’s CDW coverage which protects the vehicle and can reduce your credit card hold amount to near zero. CDW coverage is charged at a set rate per day. However, do be aware that you may already have adequate insurance through either your credit card company or other sources, making any extra coverage a waste of money.

8 things you should do when you return your hire car

  1. Avoid last minute stress and allow sufficient time for returning the rental vehicle if you're catching a flight. This is especially important if the rental depot is not at the airport and requires a shuttle transfer to the airport terminal.
  2. Fill the fuel tank before getting to the depot
  3. Note the mileage
  4. Do a quick tidy up of the vehicle, getting rid of large rubbish and food items to avoid cleaning fees
  5. Double check to ensure that you have left nothing behind. Look in seat pockets and under seats to make sure you don’t forget mobile phone charger cords, sunglasses, and so on.
  6. Take photos of the vehicle (inside and out) so you have a record of the vehicle condition. This is especially important if there's any damage to the vehicle.
  7. Make sure that you have returned any extras (such as the GPS and kids car seats)
  8. Return the keys and any paperwork.

Australia’s road rules – the basics

  • Road distances and speed limits are posted in kilometres, but the default and maximum speed limits can vary by state. Commonly, the default speed limit for urban areas is 50 km/h while it is usually 100km/h for highways and open roads. Some states, however, allow up to 130km/h on specific roads. Because limits vary, make sure you check the posted speed limit signs.
  • Red lights mean stop, even when turning into traffic
  • Police cars are common (both marked and unmarked) and there are plenty of speed cameras on the roads.
  • You must drive on the left side! This can take some getting used to if you are not already driving on the left. Put a post-it note on your dashboard as a reminder — it may sound silly but it works.
  • Drivers and passengers must wear seat belts at all times, in both front and rear seats. Car seats and booster seats are required for small children. Most rental companies have these available to rent during your trip. International best practice recommends the use of an appropriate child restraint (or booster seat) until your child reaches 148 cm tall or is 11-years-old. Child restraint and medical professionals recommend that you keep your baby in a rear-facing restraint until as old as practicable, at least until they are two years of age. In all Australian states, any child seven years of age or younger must use an approved child restraint appropriate for their age and size.
  • Don’t use your mobile phone while driving – it’s illegal.
  • Drink driving limits are extremely low in Australia. Your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) must be under 0.05%, and police will do random breath testing at roadblocks or if they think you may be driving under the influence. To be safe, just don’t drink if you’re driving.
  • Only overtake other vehicles when it’s safe to do so. Use passing lanes whenever possible, and never cross a solid yellow line on your side of the centre line.

Tips for driving in Australia

  • For your safety and that of others, don’t make the mistake of driving immediately after you’ve arrived on a long-haul flight. Tragically, accidents involving tourists occur every year because they make this simple mistake. You can find plenty of affordable lodging near major airports to catch your breath and get some rest.
  • Some rental firms include a GPS with their cars, but more commonly they come with an extra rental charge that can add up over time. An alternative to renting a GPS is to use Google Maps on your smartphone. The main drawback with this approach is that you could end up incurring significant mobile data roaming charges (as the maps refresh) and mobile reception can be spotty in some areas. One alternative is to install the TomTom navigation app on your phone (it’s free) and then simply download the TomTom NZ navigation map for Australia (which costs around AUD$85).
  • Car break-ins can be common. Make sure all your belongings are hidden in the boot and keep electronics hidden away and secure.
  • Have copies of all of your rental documents, driver’s licence(s) and passport(s).
  • Understand the pick-up and drop-off times for your vehicle — some companies charge more for after-hours delivery.
  • Make sure to schedule your car pick-up for when you are absolutely ready to hit the road. Choosing a later pick-up time can sometimes save you part of a day’s rental fee.
  • Keep in mind that if you don’t have additional drivers signed onto the agreement only the primary driver is allowed to drive the vehicle. It is always a good idea to have a secondary driver if you are able — you can split drive times, but also have an emergency backup if needed.
  • Watch for parking signs (especially clear-away zones) to prevent towing, ticketing and wheel clamping.
  • The sun in Australia is strong so not only will you want to have sunglasses with you, but keep in mind that items (such as make-up, crayons, chocolate, and so on) may melt if your vehicle is sitting in a warm spot for too long.
  • In wine-growing regions, the many vineyards make tempting stops but make sure that you have a designated driver.
  • If you have hired a campervan or motorhome keep in mind you cannot simply pull off and park for the night. You must look for an approved area to set up for the evening.

What to do if you are in an accident

  1. Make sure that everyone in both vehicles is uninjured. Phone 000 if there is a medical emergency (this number works even if your phone is out of credit).
  2. Note down the names and addresses of third parties and any witnesses.
  3. Report the accident to police, regardless of estimated damage costs.
  4. Do not accept blame or insist the other party is at fault.
  5. Make sure that you get a copy of the police report. You will need to provide this to your rental company.
  6. Photograph any damage to all vehicle(s) along with registration number(s). If there is nobody at the scene (if, for instance, you’ve damaged a parked car) leave a note and your contact information.
  7. Most rental companies offer roadside assistance. Phone the rental firm and tell them about the incident and let them know if you need anything (for instance, a new vehicle or overnight lodging). Be aware that there are no guarantees you will get a replacement vehicle, and if you do there may be extra charges for delivery.

What if the car breaks down and you need roadside assistance?

Most companies include basic roadside assistance in their rental packages and will provide you with a phone number you can call 24/7 should something go wrong with your vehicle. Typically, basic roadside assistance covers mechanical problems with your vehicle but you can sign up for a premium roadside package that, for an additional fee, covers much more.

How to save money at the petrol pump

Prices vary by location and fluctuate throughout the year, but here’s what you can likely anticipate:

  • 91 Octane (standard unleaded petrol) - $1.80 per litre
  • 95 (premium unleaded) - $1.95 per litre
  • Diesel  - $2.06 per litre

If you want to save some money at the pump:

  • Don’t rent more car than you require. Bigger engines mean more fuel.
  • Don’t speed and avoid heavy acceleration and braking, especially on hills.
  • Some supermarkets provide fuel discount vouchers with your receipts when you buy groceries.
  • There are a number of free local Android and iOS apps such as MotorMouth that show you where to find the best prices for petrol and diesel near you. 
  • Air conditioning is a big fuel guzzler. Leaving it on all the time will burn through an extra 8-12 percent of your gas. 

At petrol stations, most pumps will direct you to enter the amount that you wish to buy (or you can simply select to fill up your tank). You then pump your fuel and proceed inside to pay. However, pay at the pump is becoming available, but is not yet an option everywhere. If you are able to pay at the pump, simply use your debit or credit card and follow the payment instructions.  While there are many petrol stations throughout the country, there are fewer in rural areas and they can be few and far between in remote areas. Fill up when you can, just to be sure.

Key Australian destinations and drive times

Everyone travels at their own pace. While we provide these drive times as a guideline, they assume ideal driving conditions, without stopping for toilet breaks, to eat or to sightsee along the way. Add to these estimates whatever time you think you might need to really enjoy the journey. A good rule of thumb is to add 30% onto anticipated travel times, especially if the weather is an issue.

  • Sydney to Melbourne – 13 hours 40 minutes
  • Sydney to Newcastle – 2 hours
  • Sydney to Brisbane – 10 hours 30 minutes
  • Brisbane to Coolangatta – 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Brisbane to Cairns – 20 hours 45 minutes
  • Townsville to Cairns – 4 hours 15 minutes
  • Cairns to Darwin – 34 hours
  • Darwin to Broome – 21 hours 15 minutes
  • Broome to Perth – 30 hours
  • Perth to Adelaide – 29 hours
  • Adelaide to Melbourne – 10 hours 15 minutes
  • Adelaide to Darwin – 35 hours
  • Hobart to Launceston – 2 hours 15 minutes
Last Updated on November 9, 2023