New York City

JFK Airport Car Rental – The best companies

by Mark Rebindaine  |  Updated March 4, 2019

La Guardia may have the better views, but flying into John F. Kennedy International Airport is still a special moment. Maybe it’s because of the airport’s long and illustrious history, or perhaps it’s just the name, but either way, it’s hard not to be impressed. J.F.K is the 22nd busiest airport in the world, the 6th busiest in the United States, and the main international gateway into North America.

JFK International Airport (Photo: Kai Brinker via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

At J.F.K. airport, you’ll find car rental counters on the arrivals level of each terminal building. To collect a car, you’ll firstly need to take the free AirTrain to the Federal Circle Station before boarding one of the car rental shuttles. Most of the rental depots are within a few miles of the airport, but between the shuttles and the infamous New York traffic, it’s likely to take at least half an hour to get yourself off and away in your chosen car.

To determine which rental car companies offer the best options across our three categories (Most Affordable, Best for Luxury, Best for Minivans) carefully conducted research on all of the agencies at JFK airport. Our findings are as follows:

Most affordable: Dollar & Thrifty

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On our sample dates, Thrifty and Dollar were offering the best rates in economy, compact and full-sized cars, with Avis a close second. In a city as expensive as New York, a lot of people opt for Thrifty’s ‘Wild Car’ option, although, as the name suggests, the car you end up with will be determined by availability at the time of pick-up. Other cheap car rentals include Dollar’s Chevrolet Spark and their Hyundai Accent, which were both being leased out at a reasonable $75 per day during our searches. Dollar gets slightly better reviews than Thrifty, scoring 7.3 out of 10 from customer feedback.

Best for luxury cars: Dollar & Avis

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As would be expected from two companies operating under the same organisation, Thrifty and Dollar have similar rental cars at very similar prices. At the lower end of the premium car category, there are Hyundai Santa Fes and Toyota RAV4s, while at the higher end they both have Buick Lacrosses and the popular Chrysler 300. As previously mentioned, Dollar gets better customer feedback. For an alternative and more luxurious fleet of cars, we’d select Avis, which rents out the Lincoln MKS, the Jaguar F and the beautiful Mercedes 350.

Best for Minivans: Alamo & Enterprise

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On the whole, groups renting a minivan look for roomy, comfortable and fuel-efficient vehicles at a decent price. At most American airports, Dollar’s Nissan Quest is the cheapest rental minivan, but for something a little bigger the Dodge Grand Caravan offers more hip, leg and shoulder room than the Quest. Moreover, it has better ergonomics and more boot space. Small details perhaps, but on long trips that extra space can really count. On the dates we selected, Alamo and Enterprise consistently had slightly cheaper rates and both scored well in customer reviews.