Wondering how is rent a car in Japan compared to US? Check out this guide to learn about some of the key differences between renting a car in Japan and the US.
Eager to find out how renting a car in Japan differs from the US? Well, check out our blog below to find out more!
Car rentals have been the go-to navigating choice for countless locals and even tourists to Japan. If you’re from the US and visiting Japan for holidays then you might want to rent a car for your quest. However, the regulations and procedures for renting a car in Japan aren’t similar to those of the US.
That’s why I’ve assessed the essential particulars and polarities associated with renting cars in Japan and the US. Make sure to read further below!
- Related: Can You Rent Sports Car In Japan?
How Is Rent A Car In Japan Compared To US?
Renting A Car In Japan vs America
Car rental services are prevalent in several parts of the world, especially in countries like Japan and the US. There are numerous rent-a-car services in both of these nations, yet they’re unlikely to offer similar services in comparison.
As a matter of fact, when renting a vehicle in one of these countries you need to keep in mind if there are other reasonable alternative traveling modes available.
For instance, renting a car in Japan just to navigate across metropolitan cities like Tokyo, Okinawa, Osaka, etc is a waste of time and money in my opinion.
This is because public transportation and taxis are ubiquitous across urban areas in Japan which also charge cheap fares hence renting a vehicle is uncalled for.
However, in rural areas in Japan where there are limited taxis, you’ll be in dire need of a rental vehicle. This will also apply to some rural states in the US as well.
On the other hand, there are quite a variety of distinctions between regulations in Japan and the US when it comes to renting vehicles.
A few distinctions we can mention briefly are the age limits, payment terms, and methods, car rental insurance policies, vehicle return procedures, etc.
Japanese regulations for renting vehicles for both locals and tourists seem to provide more leeway compared to America.
In Japan, to rent a car, you just have to be a major and you can pay for the service with any desired payment method.
Whereas in the US you need to be a certain age as well as pay with a credit card in order to rent a vehicle.
The statures of renting a car in both the US and Japan can differ depending on the car rental company. Therefore, let’s familiarize ourselves with the conditions of renting a car in Japan and the US in more detail.
Difference In Eligibility For Renting A Car In Japan And The US
The vital rule of thumb in Japan for renting a car is the age limit. If you’re above 18 years old and capable of driving, you’re eligible to rent a car in Japan. Nevertheless, you must have a valid driving license that allows you to drive any vehicle.
However, if you’re a foreigner, you must have an International Driving Permit (IDP) to rent a car in Japan along with your national driving license and passport. You can only obtain the IDP from your home country and it should be done in advance.
Moreover, Japan only acknowledges international driving permits from countries that are based on the 1949 Geneva Convention.
Any country that’s not a part of the 1949 Geneva Convention must obtain a Japanese translation of their national driving license in order to rent a car in Japan.
On the contrary, renting a car in the US is permitted only for those who are above 25 years of age. This rule applies to both locals and tourists.
While few car rental services in the US might offer rental vehicles for underaged customers (specifically between the ages of 21-24) an additional cost will be followed and they’ll be limited to a few choices of vehicles.
If you’re an American citizen you’re only required to have a driving license to rent a car, whereas if you’re a foreigner to the US you must possess your national driving license, IDP, and your passport as well.
Procedures For Renting A Car In Japan And The US
The procedures for renting a car are certainly going to differ from country to country hence I’ve elaborated on the differences in the most paramount procedures for renting a car in Japan and The US.
Payment methods – Most car rental companies in Japan accept both cash and card payments and the person renting the car must possess a debit/credit card under his/her name if they’re paying by card.
A unique concept to me when renting a car in Japan was, there was no requirement for a security deposit to be made initially albeit this can depend on the car rental company itself.
Conversely, in the US, you must pay for the rental car with a credit card that has the name of the customer engrossed on the card.
Furthermore, the car rental company policy will also require the customer to have sufficient funds on the credit card as the company will put a hold on the deposit amount which can be accessed after you return the car.
Insurance – Car rental companies in Japan generally include basic insurance costs in the rental fares and basic insurance covers injury, damage, and liability costs.
Despite the basic insurance, it’s highly recommended to purchase additional insurance from the rental company just to ensure the safety of you and your loved ones aren’t compromised in a turn of events.
Similarly in the US, foreigners who rent cars must purchase extra insurance to cover the safety of themselves and their families although car rental companies still charge for basic insurance.
Navigation System – Almost every rental car in Japan possesses a built-in GPS that’s in the Japanese language by default. You could request the rental company to alter the GPS language to English.
If GPS isn’t available on your rental car, you can simply use Google Maps on your phone to navigate which is the most convenient alternative.
However, in the US some rental cars may come without a built-in GPS and you might have to add a navigator from the rental company for an extra charge. If you’re not happy with paying extra you can resort to Google Maps on your phone.
Refueling and Returning The Car – Most rentals in Japan and the US prescribe a full fuel policy which means the tank will be full when you rent the car and it must be full when you return as well. You must carry a receipt of filling your tank as proof when returning the car.
Besides, a few rental agencies in the US allow customers to drop off the vehicle with an empty tank, however, the agency will charge for the fuel used based on its rates which can be expensive.
You can return the car to a different location in Japan and the US but this facility comes with a cost if the car is dropped far away from the original location.
Nevertheless, some states in the US may not charge for dropping off at another location but this usually depends on the rental agency.
Types Of Cars Available For Renting And Their Rates In Japan And The US
The types of rental cars available in Japan range from compact cars to subcompact cars, minivans, sedans, SUVs, premium cars, and sports cars. Each of these cars is priced at different rates depending on the car rental agency.
Nippon rent-a-car agency in Japan charges the following rates for the types of cars per day.
- Subcompact cars – $57 – $60
- Compact cars – $67
- Mid-size cars – $81 – $83
- Premium cars – $208
- SUVs – $138
- Compact minivan – $100
- Midsize minivan – $208
- Hybrid cars – $86 – $100
Car rental agencies in the US provide a massive fleet of vehicles for renting such as compact cars, minivans, convertibles, SUVs, hybrids, sports, and luxury cars.
Popular American website Expedia allows customers to select from a large variety of cars with reasonable deals per day.
- Economy cars – $32 – $56
- Convertible cars – above $173
- Premium cars – $35 – $71
- Minivans – $39 – $52
- Midsize SUVs – $36 – $40
- Premium SUVs – $97 – $109
Rent A Car Services In Japan
One of the laid-back ways to travel across Japan with your loved ones is by renting out a vehicle and this can be done via several rental agencies in Japan.
However, I’ve recommended a few rent-a-car agencies that I’ve had a nonchalant experience with.
Nippon rent-a-car is one of Japan’s popular car rental agencies with over 80 outlets across the country.
This car rental offers plenty of vehicles such as compact cars, premium cars, SUVs, minivans, trucks, vans, and even hybrid vehicles. The basic rate for a day charged by Nippon rent-a-car is above 6000 yen.
The English-friendly customer service of Nippon rent-a-car made it even more memorable and convenient for us to rent our desired vehicle and discuss the terms and conditions with the staff.
This car rental also permits customers to pick up and drop the vehicle off in distinct locations for a minor fee. The cars were well-maintained and clean without any impairments.
Times Car Rental
Times Car Rental is an exceptional car rental agency in Japan that owns a massive fleet of vehicles from economy range to imported high-end cars.
This car rental provides vehicles for all types of occasions and for single-person, families as well as large groups of people.
Times Car Rental is the go-to car rental agency for most foreigners because it has a wider network of outlets located in key areas like airports and railway stations.
Furthermore, Times Car Rental might be the only Japanese car rental service to offer customer service in 10 languages. This car rental also educates the customers about Japanese traffic laws and regulations.
It’s essential to have a Toyota-based car rental in Japan. This car rental provides Toyota cars from compact to premium ranges.
The per-day compact car rates at Toyota rent-a-car seem to be more reasonable as opposed to several other rentals. It also has over 1200 agencies throughout Japan as well as cars that can suit your budget and personal needs.