Is it a Good Idea to Buy Used Rental Cars?

Buying a used rental car can make sense, but there are some pitfalls to watch out for.


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When it comes to buying a new or used vehicle, you have a ton of purchasing options available. Not only can you head to your local dealership to buy a brand-new car, but you can also buy a used car through a dealership or a private sale.

Additionally, you can buy used rental cars that were never owned privately — there are some distinct advantages of doing so. That said, you'll want to do some research on the used rental car you're buying and have it checked out by a mechanic, just like any other vehicle.

If you're considering buying a used rental car, it's helpful to know how a used rental car differs from other kinds of cars, the pros and cons of buying one, and where you can shop for one.

How Are Used Rental Cars Different?

Used rental cars are different from other used cars in that they were previously owned by a rental company instead of an individual. This could be an advantage or a disadvantage, since some individual owners take considerably better care of their vehicles than others.

Generally speaking, used rental cars may see more wear and tear, but they're typically well-maintained. Many rental car companies that sell their used vehicles even have their own certification process that guarantees a certain level of care and maintenance while the vehicle is in their possession.

Like other used cars, used rental cars vary in mileage and in the upgraded features they offer. For example, some used rental cars have only basic equipment while you'll find others with leather seats, interior and exterior cameras, all-wheel drive, and navigation systems.

Buying a Used Rental Car: Pros and Cons

Although these pros and cons won't apply to every situation, you can consider these potential advantages and disadvantages before you buy used rental cars.

Pros of buying a used rental car:

  • Get a nearly new car without the new car price. For example, Avis takes their rental cars out of rotation after one to two years and passes them on to buyers at less expensive prices
  • No haggling required. Rental car companies like Avis and Hertz offer upfront pricing without the need for an intense negotiation process
  • Certification is often included. Many rental car companies that market and sell their used vehicles have a stringent certification process to ensure quality. Rental car companies also keep meticulous maintenance records
  • Used rental cars have one owner. You may never know the full history of a used car from a dealership, but used rental cars are one-owner vehicles that rental companies buy directly from the manufacturers

Cons of buying a used rental car:

  • Some used rental cars have higher mileage. Many consumers rent cars for long-haul trips, so used rentals often have higher mileage than other used cars
  • Inventory is limited. When you shop for a used rental car, you can only pick from the cars that are available at the time. If you want a specific model or specific equipment, you may have to wait
  • Many rental cars have basic equipment. The vast majority of rental cars are basic models with standard trim and interiors
  • Rental cars may have more wear and tear. While it's not always the case, rental cars may not be in perfect condition since they were driven by multiple people over time

Where Can You Buy Used Rental Cars?

If you're looking for a used rental car, you should look to the rental car companies themselves. Major brands like Alamo, Avis, Enterprise, and Hertz all have websites set up to help individuals research and compare their used cars for sale.

Also note: even though you have to buy used rental cars from rental car companies, you can line up your own financing ahead of time. A monthly payment calculator can even help you figure out how much you would owe each month for the used rental car you're hoping to buy.

Other Important Facts About Used Rental Cars

Many of the steps required to buy used rental cars are the same as those for buying other types of vehicles. This is mainly because each used car is unique with its own history, mileage, and record of maintenance.

Before you buy a used rental car or any other used car:

  • Figure out your used car budget before you begin shopping
  • Line up your used car financing ahead of time and shop for the best rates and terms for your credit score
  • Compare cars in your target budget based on the features you want the most
  • Ask for maintenance records to ensure the vehicle aligns with manufacturer recommendations
  • Have a mechanic assess the used car
  • Check whether your used rental car comes with a warranty; if it doesn't, consider purchasing your own extended car warranty

Buying a used rental car can be a great way to save on your next used car purchase while getting a well-maintained car that's not too old. It's not for everyone though, given the potential for more wear and tear, higher mileages, and largely standard trims. So consider your financial and driving needs when shopping for a used rental car.

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Holly Johnson
Holly D. Johnson is an award-winning writer who covers personal finance, loan products, insurance, credit cards, loyalty programs, and travel. Due to her professional background, she has a sincere desire to educate consumers about financial products, including car loans. Johnson creates content full-time, and lives with her husband and two daughters in Central Indiana.