How Local Secrets Will Save You $
If you’re planning to hire a car in Alice Springs and you’re frustrated with hidden charges, taxes, and outrageous kilometre rates, then this page will be the most important webpage you’ll ever read.
Here’s the problem: Alice Springs car rental is not as straightforward as it might seem.
To help you out, on this page we not only list the car rental companies, their rates and charges BUT give you some ideas to get the best deal on Alice Springs car hire.
Where to Rent a Car in Alice Springs
There are two main places to rent cars, 4WDs and campervans in Alice Springs: Alice Springs town and Alice Springs airport.
As a general rule, however, you’ll be able to hire cars, campervans and even large 4WDs from both locations.
YOU MUST BOOK well in advance to avoid missing out on a car during the busy season from April to October.
During this time, there is very little chance of being able to hire a car when you’re straight off your flight.
Car Rental Companies in Alice Springs
Central Car Rentals (76 Hartley Street, Alice Springs (08) 8952 0098) are the company we recommend if you’re hiring a car in Alice Springs.
Kevin and Michelle are the owners of Central Car Rentals. If you decide to hire a car through them, please tell them you saw the recommendation here.
And no, they’re not sponsoring this page in any way. We honestly recommend them because:
- We have hired cars from them for both personal use and professional use and they offer excellent customer service
- They are the only locally-owned car hire company in Alice Springs
- They have the best rates on car hire (prices start at $65 per day, no more to pay, apart from fuel)
- There are NO hidden charges (i.e. they do not charge ‘Territory Premium’ charge that ALL other car hire companies will charge you)
- They hire complete camping kits from only $15 per day
They are one of the few companies that will actually let you drive a 4WD on most outback tracks and roads AND will let you drive after dark without voiding your insurance. Most other car hire companies will NOT let you do this (see below).
And in case you’re not convinced, they offer a FREE airport pick up for their customers.
Other Car Rental Companies in Alice Springs
Most sedans start at around $40 AUD per day (plus hidden charges – see below), and 4WDs start around $150 per day. These prices do not include unlimited kilometre packages (not all rental companies offer this option) insurance or fuel.
- Alice Camp N Drive (ph. (08) 8952 0099)
– 48 Gap Road. Provides sedans decked out with camping gear -also locally owned
- Avis – (ph. (08) 8953 5533) – Coles Complex, cnr of Bath Street & Gregory Terrace
- Backpacker Campervan & Car Rentals (ph. 1800 504 070) – Cnr of Stuart Hwy & Power Streets (5km north of CBD)
- Budget Car Rentals (ph. (08) 8952 8899) – Shop 3, 79 Todd Mall
- Hertz (ph. 8952 2644) – 76 Hartley Street
- Thrifty Car Rentals (ph. (08) 8952 9999) – Cnr of Stott Terrace & Hartley Street
Car Hire at Alice Springs Airport
Alice Springs airport is about 10 minute drive (15km) away from Alice Springs township.
You’ll find car hire desks for Avis, Budget, Europcar, Thrifty and Hertz at the front of the airport, near the baggage carousel.
We’re going to come right out and say we do not recommend hiring a car at Alice Springs airport.
The reason for this is quite simple: you will pay around 15%-20% more hiring a car at the airport from the same rental car company than if you were to hire the same car from the same company in their Alice Springs town offices.
For example: hiring a Barina (a small, 4 cylinder car) for 3 days from Alice Springs airport is around $146 (2012 prices).
The same car from the SAME company hired in town is $130 for 3 days.
If you’re hiring a 4WD or camper, then this adds over $100 to your total hire costs.
Whilst we understand that some people want to hire a car at the airport and become independent straight away, or that you might be in a hurry to get on the road and driving to Uluru, we’ve also vowed to save you money and share with you local tips and tricks.
So for this reason, we feel that hiring a vehical at Alice Springs airport is not as good value for money as hiring one in town.
However, if you really have to hire a car at Alice Springs airport and rush off, the link below will take you direct to these comanies and a comparison of their prices.
PLEASE READ THIS SECTION TO AVOID PAIN
Most Alice Springs car hire companies will add on some additional charges and have very strict rules about where you can and can’t drive your rental vehicle.
The first extra, hidden charge you need to know about is the ‘Premium Location Surcharge’.
This is a charge of around $100-$125, which is slapped on to the price of Alice Springs car hire simply because of the location.
Some Alice Spring car hire companies don’t even tell you about it. Thrifty is the only car hire company operating out of Alice Springs that fully discloses this charge on their rental agreements and actually tells you how much it is (a murderous 17.5% at the Alice Springs airport).
The excuse we’ve been given is that there’s a higher number of cars damaged in the NT by tourists than anywhere else in Australia. Personally, I think it’s just a way to rip people off.
Unfortunately, there’s no way around this charge, not even for NT residents!
The Premium Location Surcharge varies from rental company to rental company. When hiring, make sure you enquire about it.
Another sneaky cost in outback car hire that can be avoided is the ‘One Way Surcharge’
The One Way Surcharge is around $330, and occurs if you’re picking up your car in Alice Springs, driving to Uluru, and dropping it off at the car hire company there because you’re flying out of Ayers Rock airport.
The good news is that there IS a way to avoid this charge: simply book your vehicle for 3 days instead of 2.
Where you can drive your rental car in Central Australia is also something you need to be aware of before you hire a car.
There are two common car hire conditions on Alice Springs car hire which you MUST be aware of:
- some companies do not allow you to drive between sunset and sunrise (from dusk onwards)
- most car rental companies do not allow rental cars on dirt roads (4WDs are allowed on some dirt roads)
If you do either of these things, and they aren’t covered by your rental agreement, if you break down or have an accident, you will forfeit your security bond and you may also be required to pay for the cost of vehicle recovery and repairs!
The lesson here is: pay attention to the fine print and ask questions.
Finally, the single biggest mistake that many overseas visitors make is to hire a 4WD (four wheel drive) when they’re only driving Ayers Rock, Kata Tjuta or Alice Springs.
You do not need a 4WD if you’re only travelling between any of these places. All of the roads are very good, sealed highways.
What are your Alice Springs car hire experiences? We’d love to know your car hire stories, both good and bad, so you can help others out.
Please leave your honest advice and tips about car hire in Alice Springs in the comments box below.
Please note: Comments on this page from people whose name is ‘Best Essex Car Hire’ or similar will be instantly deleted.