Car Rental Portland Maine: 10 Easy Ways to Save Money

Car Rental Portland Maine Tips

Looking for the best deals for a car rental in Portland Maine, but not sure where to start? We got you covered! Maine is one of the most popular destinations in New England and many travelers start their summer adventures in Portland. This is the perfect state for those who love outdoor activities, delicious seafood and beautiful beaches. Here’s our best tips for finding the cheapest rental cars in Portland Maine, renting a car at the airport, and much more!

Car Rental Portland Maine Guide

1. Skip a Car For Your Days IN Portland Maine

Having a rental car in Maine is the ultimate way to explore the state. You can check the current prices here. However, you should know you won’t actually need one if you’re staying in the city! It’s easy enough to fly into Portland Jetport and take a shuttle to downtown Portland.

From here, there are tons of boats tours (this is one of the most popular), day trips, and more than enough to fill your time. If you’re starting your Maine road trip in its largest city then we recommend skipping the car rental in Portland Maine for these days. 

Obviously, this completely is up to your personal travel style and itinerary. Not having a rental car in Portland Maine will also save you money on the overnight parking which we talk about more soon.

With the extra cash you can splurge on great activities like the Portland Museum of Art, bicycle rentals, and the famous Portland Trolly Ride. Before leaving, also be sure to check out the best Portland Maine lobster restaurants as well!

Still, if you’re looking for the quintessential Maine experience, you’ll want to consider a rental vehicle. Picture yourself cruising down the coastline through the historic villages and charming harbor towns. That’s what Maine is all about!

Portland Maine Car Rental

2. Check Your Hotel Parking 

For longer Maine itineraries it’s totally understandable if you want to pick up your car at the airport. Even if you’re staying in Portland for a night or two, it may be better to have your car beforehand and ready to go when you leave.

If you decide to get a car rental in Portland Maine and keep it overnight know that you’ll be paying quite a bit for parking. On our last visit, our hotel wanted to charge over $30 USD a night as they only offered valet services. 

After driving around we saw that most of the lots by the harbor were at full capacity. One parking garage we pulled into even wanted to charge $55 to stay the night.

In downtown Portland you’ll be lucky to find an overnight lot for under $25 USD. We did see a cheaper spot while driving around, but it was outside and had no overnight parking. 

One thing to know is that there is street parking that becomes free after a certain time in the day. If you choose to park your car rental in Maine like this be sure to set your alarm early. That way you can pay for it before you get a fine. 

Keep in mind this just applies to the main downtown area which is the most busy. If you’re further from the center of Portland Maine you won’t have as much difficulty parking.

Best car rental in Portland Maine

3. Book Your Car Rental in Portland Maine in Advance 

Planning to visit to this part of New England during the popular summer months? Unfortunately, there’s no getting around the fact that the average price of a car rental in Portland Maine will be expensive.

That goes all the way into the autumn when prices can jump up even more! Maine and its neighboring states are some of the most famous areas in the entire country to see fall foliage.

For this reason, booking in advance will be a huge factor in finding the best price. As soon as you know your travel dates we recommend starting to search for a car rental in Portland Maine. Not only will you see great deals before others make their own vacation plans, but it will allow you compare rates between different companies.

We always use Discover Cars to find amazing deals on vehicles in the United States. It compares the top companies and best car rental prices so you easily filter and sort for what you need. We recently used this website to book a car in Croatia and paid just $200 for 4 weeks! 

Know that the type of car rental in Maine you choose can drastically change the price. Most Portland car rental companies have every car class from a midsize sport to luxury sedan, and even pickup trucks. If you’re visiting in the chilly winter months your best bet is to rent an SUV with 4 wheel drive instead of the more flashy options.

It’s also a good idea to pick a company that offers free cancellation. Typically, it goes up until 48 hours before most rental cars in Maine start. This is one of our biggest money-saving tips which we talk more about below.

Car Rental in Portland Maine

4. Watch For Car Rental Portland Maine Price Drops

Just like with flights in the United States, the price of car rentals can fluctuate based on the time of year and demand. Once you have your rental cars in Maine booked don’t be afraid to go back online and check sporadically up until your dates that you can’t get a better deal.

As long as you picked a car with a free cancellation policy, then why not?! If you do happen to find a better deal pop up then or the car rental rates drop you can re-book it to some money.

Honestly, you might not remember to go back and do this step. To combat this, we will sometimes set alarms or calendar reminders for a future date. Even if the prices have gone up since you booked, at least you can rest assured that you got a great deal.

Portland Maine Car

5. Rental Cars at Portland Maine Airport vs Downtown 

If you’re renting a car in Portland Maine for a trip that probably means you don’t live nearby. Most likely you’ll fly into Portland International Jetport, which is the main international airport of the state. Rental cars at Portland Maine airport can be found in abundance and are convenient to pick up right when you land.

Alternatively, if you took a bus or train into Portland it will be easier to grab a car rental downtown. There are several well known companies in the center Portland like Enterprise and Dollar. Some even offer a free pick-up service from your hotel and will bring you straight to their office. 

Both downtown and the airport car rentals in Maine are fine options. Really, it just depends on your itinerary and what makes the most sense for your route. 

Rental Cars at Portland Maine Airport

6. Look Into the Renting a Car in Boston

We completely understand that you’re reading this article because you are interested in getting a car rental in Portland Maine! Nevertheless, it’s worth the quick search to see if it would work better to go through Boston. Below are a few things to consider on your visit to New England.

  • Start with a quick search for flights into Portland Jetport International Airport. If you don’t have your dates then check the website Skyscanner to look at the price calendar by month.
  • Search your dates for a rental car picking it up at Boston Airport. 
  • Do the same search for with your flight and rental cars at Portland Maine Airport to get the estimated total amount.

Now it may very well be the same price to fly into Portland Maine and rent a car as it is in Boston. However, depending on where in the world you are flying from, flights can be way cheaper into Massachusetts. Remember that Boston Logan Airport is just under 2 hours from Portland Maine.

For example, let’s imagine you’re a family of four going on a Maine vacation. If the flights are $250 USD cheaper flying into Boston compared to Portland then you can save $1,000 but just adding an easy 2 hour drive to your trip. 

Also, there are tons of great things to see and do up the coast from Boston to Portland. Stop into the rustic Massachusetts beach towns like Rockport and Plum Island, or cruise right to Old Orchard Beach and Kennebunkport.

8 Top Tips For Renting a Car in Boston Massachusetts

Best Boston Rental Car

7. Set Your Route and Book Hotels Early

This tip is specifically if you are planning a road trip! Having a car rental in Maine will give you so much more freedom and flexibility for an adventure through New England. Check out our 5 day Maine road trip itinerary for some inspiration!

Personally, we recommend staying in a mix of small towns and oceanfront resorts. This is completely up to your travel style and budget, but know there is a great mix of places to stay. Below is a fun itinerary which would be perfect for families or couples on a romantic vacation. 

1 Week Maine Itinerary 

  • 2 Nights – Portland 
  • 2 Nights – Boothbay Harbor 
  • 2 Nights – Bar Harbor Maine & Acadia National Park
  • 1 Night – Kennebunkport Maine

12 Best Boothbay Harbor Hotels and Inns For Your Maine Escape

Car Rental in Maine

8.  Document Damage On Your Car Rental in Maine

When renting a car in Portland Maine you’ll want to be covered for any worst case scenario. Be sure you have insurance coverage prior to any trip! If you’re not using your own insurance policy you may want to purchase the additional coverage or roadside assistance directly from the rental company. We usually use our credit card to cover us, but check with your own and read the fine print.

In past days, you may have noticed that the staff members would walk around the vehicle with you and document any damage. Not anymore! For the most part, it seems like nowadays they just hand you the keys and go.

This is why you’ll always want to walk around yourself and take note of any scratches and dents. We always take photos and even a video of us circling the car before taking off. This could save you a lot of hassle at the end when your drop off your rental cars in Maine. Also, be sure to add any additional authorized drivers beforehand to avoid any issues.

Portland Car Rental Tips

9. Car Rental Portland Maine Rental Time

This one is more of a tip for travelers who don’t rent cars often. If you didn’t know, your rental price is based on a 24 hour clock. That means if you pick up your rental car in Maine at 10am on the first day, but don’t return to the rental location until 4 pm,you’ll be hit with an additional charge.

A late drop fee to the rental car station would be such a sad way to close out your holiday at the end of the rental! This is something to consider before making your plans for the afternoon and deciding on your rental car return time.

Are you dropping off your car rental in Portland earlier, but have a late flight? You can always take the bus, train, or grab a taxi downtown to explore. Remember that Portland’s airport is only a 30 minute drive from the city center. 

Car Rental Portland Maine

10. Is Renting a Car in Maine Worth it?

Absolutely! Having a car to explore this amazing state will give you so much freedom that you wouldn’t otherwise have. Public transportation can be hit or miss in this part of New England. Grabbing a cheap car rental in Maine is the best way to enhance your vacation.

As we mentioned, whether you pick up a car rental in Portland Maine or not will decide on how much time you’re spending in the city. You also may want to look into how much a one-way fee would be to drop in another city like Boston or New York. 

7 Top Things to Know Before Renting a Car in New York

Renting a Car in Maine

Have any questions on this article or want to share your own tips for renting a car in Portland Maine? Leave us a comment below!

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

Maine Travel Tips

 Flights: We always find great flights using Skyscanner and Kayak. This way you can plan your trip around the cheapest and most direct routes.

 Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as Booking.com and Agoda! Also, Hostelworld can be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget. 

Rental Car: We use Discover Cars when traveling in the United States. Consider renting a car in one city and dropping it off in another for an epic New England road trip! 

Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for activities all around Maine. Book a Portland trolley ride, take a historical walking tour in Kennebunkport, or go on a scenic cruise in Boothbay!! 

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered! We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years and they are there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials

Maine Travel

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2 Comments

  1. Shelby
    October 21, 2023 / 6:53 am

    I didn’t even THINK of not having a car on our trip but now that you’ve planted it in my head it’s genius! It will allow us to explore so much more of Portland this way and cut costs. Thank you!

    • Brigitte & Jake
      Author
      October 21, 2023 / 7:00 am

      Of course! We loved having the freedom to explore Maine’s beautiful coastline. Having a car is a must!

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