Renting A Car

As in some other section of the wiki, here are some advices that apply to all the UC campuses. If some sections are specifically related to only one or some of the campuses, it will be indicated.

Step by Step: how to rent a car

  1. Find a car rental company and book you car online at their website. You'll have to fill in a form with some personal data. When you decide your rental period, remember that the starting date and time has to be quite precise, as they will keep your car available only for a limited amount of time, while the return time is just for their planning purposes. In case you need to keep the car more or less than expected, they will recalculate the amount. When registering to a website, remember to join their mailing list! They send special offers (usually a free upgrade or a weekend for half the price).
  2. Go to the car rental company at the designated time and date with your reservation. If you're late or you go there earlier, don't worry, they usually find something else quickly. Actually, if you they are late in providing you a car, you can insist and they usually give you a higher class car (if they have one available) for the same price ;)
  3. Give them your credit card. A credit card is needed when renting a car. Not a debit card, or a prepaid, but a real credit card. They will probably charge something on your credit card as soon as you check in, and sometimes even during your rental period. It's just for them to be sure, if everything is ok at the check out they just don't confirm those transactions and charge you the right amount (I'm telling these for those of you that have real time SMS notification of credit card charging).
  4. Give them your driving license. Everything is ok: foreign driving license, driving permit, etc. Some car rental don't accept under 25 drivers (few of them, actually), most of them don't accept under 21 drivers. If you are between 21 and 25, ask if there is an additional fee. Car rental companies near campuses usually waive this fee.
  5. Look at the car. You have to do a check of the car, looking for scratches and any problems, together with the car rental company representative. No more than a couple of minutes. They will also check the gas, because you're supposed to return the car with the same gas.
  6. Choose the insurance. They usually offer some choices for the insurance: basic, full, premium, etc. If you're credit card doesn't provide you an insurance, you have to purchase one from them. You can also ask for zero deductible if you want not to pay anything in case of damages. Otherwise the first TOT dollars are paid by you (for example 250$ for damages, 1000$ for stealing, etc.). They will probably ask you if you're going to stay in California or going out of the state (for example, to go to Gran Canyon). The insurance price change accordingly. You're usually not allowed to go abroad (Mexico), sometimes only to Tijuana.
  7. Drive! That's it, you have the car.
  8. Return the car When you're done, just return the car. They don't need your credit card, they charge on the one you gave before (unless you tell them differently). They check the car for problems, gas and scratches together with you and you're done.

Rental companies


enterpriseLogo.jpg Available in all California, it's one of the closest choices for UCSD students, as it is located right south of the Gilman Dr. entrance of the campus (they are in the same building complex of the gas station, actually you have to enter in the gas station to reach them). There are Enterprise locations everywhere in California.

Their contact info is

Enterprise website

Near UCSD: 3299 HOLIDAY COURT, LA JOLLA, CA 92037-1896, Tel.: (858) 558-0348

The main advantages of this rental company are

  • free pickup service (they can come and pick you up and they can bring you back home when you return the car)
  • discounted rates for UCSD students (ask when at the counter or use the corporate account no. 32Z3070 (32Z3069 for under 21) when booking online, PIN UCS)
  • under 25 year old drivers allowed without any fee
  • weekend special at half the price

If you subscribe to their newsletter you'll probably receive some discount code too (usually a free upgrade or something similar).

You can check rates online, remember that if your credit card doesn't offer car insurance (that is, usually, if it's not an American credit card), then you have to add their insurance. It costs from 9 to 26 dollars a day, depending on the insurance you want to purchase (with or without deductible, with personal coverage, etc…).

Express Rent-a-car (San Diego only)

This company offers some long term rental options that can be competitive with buying a car. The pros of renting instead of buying are mainly that you don't have to care about maintenance and insurance. Of course this means a little higher prices.

For example on a flier they advertised

  • 135 - 190 USD/week or 350 - 550 USD/month if the car stays in Southern California
  • 225 - 250 USD/week or 650 - 750 USD/month if you plan to travel up to San Francisco, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon for example

Check details and up to date rates on

Express rent-a-car website
Tel.: (619) 232 - 5400
2595 Kettner Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101


flexcar.gif This car rental option is similar to the car sharing idea. Flexcar vehicles are parked inside the campuses of UCSD, UCLA and UC Berkeley and in many other off campus locations.

You don't have to worry about anything like maintenance, gas (!), insurance, etc… The price is a little bit higher than conventional car rentals, but rates are on a hourly basis, so you can rent a car for the afternoon only, for example.

Once you are registered for the program you only have to

  1. schedule your drive on the web
  2. get your car in the parking lot
  3. return your car in the same spot when your registration is over

Check details on

Flexcar website
Tel.: 1-877-FLEXCAR

Solar car!

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