Car Hire is available at Phoenix airport and also at the smaller airports of Tucson and Flagstaff. Some of the larger hotels and resorts have car hire desks where delivery of a vehicle to you can be arranged.
Car Hire for International Visitors
Car hire is best booked in advance as there are periods when vehicles are in high demand particularly in Phoenix. If booking through the international sites of the major companies you will normally be offered a packaged rate including the day rate for the car, unlimited mileage, collision damage waiver (CDW) and additional liability insurance (ALI). This makes life easy and in general does not disadvantage you in comparison to hiring on local terms.
UK residents should note that currently the paper portion of the UK license needs to be presented to the hire company in addition to the photo card.
The range of vehicles available through the US hire companies has improved greatly over the years and a wide range of vehicles including some interesting luxury and sport options are available at the larger locations (including Phoenix). Hertz in particular is good in this respect and offers the ability to reserve specific models in its speciality categories. Part of the fun of hiring a vehicle in the US can be driving something you wouldn’t normally drive at home. The large SUV’s in particular are well appointed and very suitable for a touring trip. Although the cost of fuel has escalated in recent years it is still a bargain compared to the UK in particular.
Depending upon the vehicles on hand you may be offered an upgrade at the point of renting. It is a personal choice as to whether what is offered strikes you as a good deal and there are no hard and fast rules.
You will be offered the option of purchasing a tank of fuel in advance. I prefer not to take this option as it is far more likely to be advantageous to top the car up with fuel on the way back to return the car.
My personal view is that the use of a Satnav system removes most of the stress of driving in an unfamiliar large city. They can also be very useful in providing direction to amenities including fuel, shopping and restaurants. All of the major hire companies will offer the rental of a unit by the day. These are sometimes off the shelf models such as tomtom but may be proprietary (and more limited systems) as for example in the case of Hertz. Given that the price of these units has dropped significantly it is worth considering whether it makes sense for you to make a trip to an electrical store when you arrive and pick up a local unit. If you drive in the US on a regular basis this clearly makes sense.
Phoenix Car Hire
All of the rental car companies operating at Sky Harbor are now situated in a car rental center that is situated just outside the main airport terminal area. This is easily reached within ten minutes via the clearly marked rental car shuttle buses that depart for the kerb outside each terminal. The bus will drop you outside the main lobby of the centre in which all of the rental companies have counters. Free baggage trolleys are available outside the centre. When you have completed your paperwork at the counter you take the elevator to the indicate floor in the garage and find the vehicle.
The car rental centre is close to a number of the freeways hence reaching your final destination should be easy.
Rental cars are also returned to the centre which is sign posted from the freeway.
CDW – subject to an excess which varies by class of vehicle this covers you for accidental damage to the vehicle.
ALI – the third party liability coverage provided by default in the US can be potentially inadequate. It is therefore worth considering topping the coverage up to a realistic level by purchasing supplementary coverage.