Alice Springs Car Hire

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

  • 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

Click here to compare rates and get the best prices for these Alice Springs Car Rental companies.

Car Hire at Alice Springs Airport

Alice Springs airport is about 10 minute drive (15km) away from Alice Springs township.

Alice Springs Car hire

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.

If you’re hiring a 4WD or camper, expect to pay a premium. Remember you don’t need a 4wd to drive straight to Uluru.

Alice Springs Car hire

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 vehicle 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 companies and a comparison of their prices.

Alice Springs Car Rental Australia – Compare prices and get the best rates.


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.

Not all hire car companies allow 4WDs to drive on tracks or dirt roads

The first extra, hidden charge you need to know about is the ‘Premium Location Surcharge’.

This is a charge in the hundreds of dollars, 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).

Be on the lookout for local companies to avoid paying the surcharge.

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.

Toyota Troop carriers can be hired - at a cost!

Another sneaky cost in outback car hire that can be avoided is the ‘One Way Surcharge’

The One Way Surcharge is in the hundreds of dollars, 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.


Click here to compare rates and get the best prices for these Alice Springs Car Rental companies.

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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.


  • Roman Golubev says:

    Shop around. Even with a premium location surcharge you may get a better deal from one of the main rental chains than from a local company.

  • PAUL O'KANE says:

    In May I hired a car (group S) in Adelaide from Hertz and dropped it off at Alice Springs airport. Cost was $773 for 11 days. There was NO drop off fee because I booked it through Apollo who do not have a fee (even though Hertz’s fee is $1100). Apollo were the only hire car company I could find who had no fee.

  • Gail tribbeck says:

    Hello – we found your web page very informative and interesting. Thank you for posting.
    We are two Seniors from Perth and are thinking of flying into Alice Springs in early October to see the Field of Lights. We want to hire a 4WD – we use a 4WD in Perth so are used to driving these.
    Just a question or two – do you need a 4WD to drive to the Lights? Or the sunset vantage points?
    Any assistance you can give would be fantastic.
    Kind regards – Gail

    • Gary says:

      Hi Gail, No, you don’t need a 4wd. If you are flying into Alice Springs, just remember it is about a 5 hour drive to Uluru and it is all on good quality bitumen roads.

  • richard miller says:

    We were totally satisfied with our treatment by Central Car Rentals — not cheap but no hidden fees and a nice, large, clean, excellent vehicle. And they rent out camping gear — we did take an ice chest but probably should have done more camping as hotels were expensive. Our only regret was that we didn’t “put it through its paces”. Have done a lot of highly technical 4WD roads in the American Southwest with a Land Rover and, to be honest, I would feel comfortable taking a low-clearance 2WD vehicle over the Mereenie Loop. But it may be more challenging depending on the weather. On the other hand, maybe Aussies need to come to the U.S. to understand what a 4WD road really is! Try the roads to the Dollhouse or the Chocolate Drops in Canyonlands NP. Honestly, I know you have seriously challenging roads — but the Mereenie Loop doesn’t qualify.

  • Katrina says:

    Just read your article and don’t understand how you avoid the one-way surcharge alice to uluru? Do you mind clarifying this? Thanks

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Katrina,

      If you scroll to the bottom of the article, we do indeed tell you how to avoid the surcharge with *some* companies. Others… there is no way to avoid it. Do your due diligence when booking a car is my advice, ask about these charges and costs.


  • Brad says:

    I am not clear on how booking for 3 days instead of 2 allows avoidance of the one-way charges. Are you saying use the extra day to drive back to Alice Springs or does paying for the extra day somehow cover the company’s “returning” the car?

    Thanks the website is hugely helpful.

  • Brad Worrall says:

    Amanda –

    I am not sure I understand how the hiring the car for the extra day gets you out of the $330. If I hire a car in Alice Springs for one day longer than I need it, and return the car a day early at the Airport in Uluru, why does the one way rental fee not still apply?

    I will of course ask the car rental company, but it would help to understand how this might work so I can argue my case.

  • June says:

    For those of you that are coming to Alice Springs or even flying into Ayers Rock airport, and looking for a vehicle with unlimited kms, the Alice Springs Visitor Information Centre guarantees unlimited kms if the car is booked and paid through them. They are agents for Thrifty, Hertz, Central Car Rentals, Europcar, Adventure Rentals and Budget. Unfortunately Avis is not one of their operators.
    Minimum of 2 days hire but that’s nothing if you are driving to Uluru. In some instances, they can even take over the booking (if you booked direct) or they may even find a better deal.
    If you send them an email or give them a call they can provide a quote for you.

  • Wolfgang says:

    Central Car Rentals and Alice Camp’n Drive have the same address and same phone number, though slightly different prices, and both claim to be the “only locally-owned car hire company in Central Australia”. Are they the same outfit, or has there been a merger/takeover ?

  • CJ says:

    Central Car Hire is showing as closed down?

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