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Miami Beach 411
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Renting a Car in Miami

What you need to know before you rent a car in Miami

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Depending on where you stay in Miami, you may rent a car.  If you are staying in parts of the city that are not as convenient to get around, or you are looking to explore South Florida, then you will want to have your own wheels. But if you are staying in South Beach, not only is a car unnecessary, it can be a nuisance to park. Parking is very expensive at the hotels, costing from $30 a day. And if you do decide to drive somewhere on the beach, finding a parking space can take a while or you will end up using a valet for at least another $15. It is much easier to use cabs if you are in South Beach.

Renting a car at the airport
The new rental car center opened last year at Miami International airport, making it much easier to pick up a car at the airport. All the companies are housed under one big roof on different floors only a mile away from the airport entrance. Free shuttle buses run constantly from the arrival halls, so just hop on and go to the company you have chosen for your car rental. Returning the car is also easy to do as it is well signposted from the airport and is one entrance for all the rental companies.

Rates and what it includes
An average daily rate in Miami for a regular sized car is around $30. However, like all things in Miami, this increases over the holidays and special weekend events so plan well in advance to get a good rate.

Extra charges that are not included are the insurance of the vehicle which you must pay for. However, for International customers paying with an overseas credit card, insurance is usually included in the price of the rental. Some credit card companies in the US may also include insurance as part of their benefits, so do check before you pay for it at the rental office. Make sure you know the policy and what you are covered for before you leave with the car.

Miami freeways have a system for tolls where you can use a Sunpass to drive directly through without stopping. Many roads now have cashless tolls and will only accept Sunpass or they will bill you by your license plate. This costs a lot of money due to the additional admin fees, so if you are renting a car, make sure you request the Sunpass. The charge comes at the end of your rental and will appear on your credit card statement after you return home.

Extra costs in the rates are also incurred when you do not return the car to its original pick up point. As most companies do have an office in Miami Beach as well as the airport, this is also something to consider.

Knowing where to go
Plan your route in advance before you set off in the rental car. The airport is on a busy intersection of highways so make sure you know the directions to your hotel. This includes knowing the freeway numbers to make your journey easier. To get to South Beach from Miami airport, follow the signs for 836 East. This road will take you directly there.

Road rules for driving in Miami
Unlike countries in Europe, in Florida you must carry your driving documents with you. Do not under any circumstances leave your license tucked away in your hotel safe, carry it with you at all times. Learning some of the road rules before you arrive if you have never driven here before is also a good idea. America drives on the right side of the road, and roads rarely have roundabouts, also known here as traffic circles. The four way stop sign is very common, meaning you must come to a complete stop and whoever arrives at the junction first has the right of way.

But the main road rules in Miami are remembering people here drive recklessly. People talking on their cell phones whilst driving is not illegal and is a common sight, as a result drivers do not pay attention to the road. You have to drive defensively. People turn without indicating, run red lights and drift into other lanes in the freeway. Driving here is not for the faint hearted.

Renting a car gives you freedom on your vacation to travel and explore. If you are renting a car for Miami, keep the bad drivers in mind while you are on the road. And if you are continuing on to the Keys, West Coast or Orlando, soon you will be leaving them far behind you as you continue on your Florida vacation!

Photo by: Scott Alexander

About the Author:

A SoBe resident for 5 years, Jess’s writing focuses on healthy living in South Beach with a dose of British humor and a cheerful outlook on life in Miami. She can be found moderating the forum Miami Beach 411.

See more articles by Jess.

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