Skip to Content

Do You Need A Rental Car in New Orleans?

New Orleans is a wonderful city to visit any time of the year. There are many ways on how you can explore the beautiful attractions located in this area. Some tourists prefer to do it by walking from their hotels, riding taxis, or other modes of transportation. However, there are also those who prefer to get around town using a rental vehicle.

Finding the right car to rent is not always easy to do, which is why it’s important to conduct some research before you start renting. We’ve compiled a list of the common questions that will help you decide if a car rental is something you really need during your next visit to New Orleans.

Do you need a rental car in New Orleans? Keep on reading to find out more!

Visiting New Orleans: Central Business District, French Quarter and More

French Quarter at New Orleans

There are numerous incredible things to see in New Orleans, that are even located at accessible locations. As such, you can visit them by simply walking or taking sightseeing tours.

Gray Line Tours, French Quarter Phantoms, and Steamboat Natchez are among the most popular tour companies in town that provide tour services for people who want to explore the mid-city or the downtown area.

Another great way to see New Orleans is by traveling down the Mighty Mississippi River on a steamboat.

There are several companies that offer cruises, and each cruise trip typically lasts from two to three hours and allows tourists to see the unique view of New Orleans from the river. Make sure to check the schedule.

At the same time, there are also big events or festivals in the city like Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest that are usually held in Charles Avenue, or the French Quarter.

Some of them may also reach the Algiers Point Neighborhood. You can go to a live music event by riding a bus or choosing taxis. If you are up for something fun and exciting, you can also check out the exciting events in some New Orleans hotels.

The Right Car for Your Stay

Downtown  New Orleans Skyline
Kevin Ruck / Adobe Stock

The next question that you should ask yourself is: Do you require a rental vehicle in New Orleans or would riding the bus or trolleys be sufficient?

The first thing that you need to know is that you can definitely visit New Orleans hotels, restaurants, events, and other attractions by through public transportation.

Just remember that this option may be limited if you are checking out City Park, Lakefront Airport, and East New Orleans. Hence, if your stay in New Orleans will include visiting a location outside the city for a long time, then a rental vehicle will be necessary.

The major highways that run through the state include Interstate 10, Interstate 510, and I-59 along with several scenic byways such as the River Road, Lakeshore Drive, Warehouse District, Garden District, and Esplanade Ave.

During peak time, most of your travel expenses may be higher than usual due to surge prices. As you probably know by now, the fares for bus rides may be more expensive, especially at night. Even if you decide to get a car for hire during these hours, you must remember that the park fees may also be expensive as well.

Rent A Car

Road at New Orleans

The need to get a self-drive vehicle depends on what you want to do when you visit New Orleans.

If you’re just planning on staying in the French Quarter or Charles Avenue to do some sightseeing activities, then you may not need one.

But if you’re interested in exploring more of what the city has to offer, then a car rental would be a good idea so that you can explore great restaurants and attractions outside of Claiborne Ave, the French Quarter, Esplanade Avenue, the Garden District, and Carrollton Avenue.

Having a rented vehicle will give you the freedom to explore them at your own pace, and go further than the usual tourist traps.

So, compare rental car pricing with Kayak to get the best price possible on your rental.

What do you need to rent a car in New Orleans?

Cars on Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, New Orleans
jovannig / Adobe Stock

In New Orleans, finding the right vehicle to rent is simple. All you need is a valid driver’s license and a credit card to get started. It is important to have the proper documentation as well so that the process of dealing with rental car firms will be a lot easier and faster.

If you do not have a valid driver’s license, do not worry. Most of the local car rental companies in New Orleans may still accept your application to lease a vehicle without the need for the said ID.

They often accept international licenses and passports instead. However, keep in mind that these businesses may charge you additional fees if you cannot present a driver’s license.

Take note that knowing the company’s rental policies ahead of time is crucial. This will allow you to better understand the terms and conditions, as well as set out your expectations about the leasing arrangement.

Although most automobile rental companies prohibit people under the age of 21 from renting a vehicle, some may allow it for an additional fee.

How do you pay for rental fees?

Holding and Counting Money
Alexander Grey / Unsplash

There are different ways on how you can pay the fees for your chosen automobile. Some companies accept cash as payments while others prefer credit cards.

If you are planning to book the reservations online, then it is best to pay via credit or debit card. Keep in mind that some firms may charge deposits to ensure that you will take good care of the leased property.

Do you need insurance?

Car insurance policy with red car toy
NAMPIX / Adobe Stock

When you lease a car, be sure to inquire about the available insurance coverage.

Collision damage waivers (CDW) and liability insurance are frequently offered by automobile rental companies. In case of a car accident or when the vehicle is damaged or stolen, the CDW will cover the cost of repairs or replacement. If you are sued for damages caused by your rental car, liability coverage will protect you from legal responsibility.

If you don’t have a credit card or do not want to use their insurance, inquire with the rental car firm if they provide any type of protection that allows you to avoid paying if something is damaged or stolen.

It may be an extra charge, but it is worth paying for as it will protect you from a bigger expense in the future.

How do you find the best prices?

Kayak Cars Homepage
Kayak Rental Cars / Kayak Rental Cars

In New Orleans, getting a vehicle for hire is most likely to be your most expensive expenditure while visiting, so do your research in advance. Our personal favorite resource is to use Kayak to get the best rental rates.

The ideal time to obtain cheap rental prices is before you actually come to the town or the mid-city. As much as possible, try to book the reservation ahead of time to save big on the fees.

You’ll likely want to know what special sales are available before you proceed too.

Also, keep in mind that the size and type of car you rent will influence the overall costs of the rental arrangement in New Orleans. If you want to have a luxurious ride, then it is going to be more expensive. Conversely, if you are fine with small basic vehicles, then you can expect the rates to be affordable.

Some New Orleans Hotels have a partner car rental company that will help you explore the French Quarter or City Park. It is highly recommended to inquire at the front desk of the hotel where you booked your stay about this.

What is the smallest car that you can lease?

New Orleans Street view and cars in a motion
Maryna / Adobe Stock

A compact automobile would be the smallest vehicle to rent in New Orleans; however, keep in mind that while compact cars are best for city driving and parking, they do not have enough capacity to carry larger bags. If you do hire a small car for your visit, inquire about free mileage limits and other costs since these can differ from one company to another.

If you are simply going for a lovely weekend trip to the gorgeous city of New Orleans, you don’t really need a big vehicle. You can choose smaller cars that will already allow you to go to a prime location in the city.

See Related: Do You Need a Car in Charleston? Things You Should Know

What Do You Need To Do?

Crowded Street at New Orleans

Don’t opt for the first vehicle rental business that you come across. They are not the only ones in the region, so do your homework and compare rates before signing a contract. Do your own research to see whether there are any hidden costs associated with your booking.

If you do your homework before hiring a car, then it’s likely that you will be able to avoid hidden expenses once you rent a car in New Orleans. As a result, you can also find a better deal for the rental fees.

Picking Up The Vehicle

Driving a Car
Song_about_summer / Adobe Stock

After you’ve booked your rental car, make sure to print out the reservation details and keep all of the contact information of the branch where you’ll pick up your vehicle.

You’ll need to do a final check and inspect your rental vehicle before you leave the location of the rental firm in order to make sure that there isn’t any damage, and if there is, you aren’t liable for it. Don’t hesitate to ask about how you should report any problems during your rental period.


Women hand over ID cards to officials.
nikomsolftwaer / Adobe Stock

As discussed above, you’ll need one primary form of identification, such as a driver’s license, passport, or any other valid ID. Some firms are not strict about the requirements.

On the other hand, some rental companies, especially those located near Orleans hotels or restaurants may require you to present more documents. It is a good way for them to ensure that you are a legitimate person who can be trusted to use their vehicle. Because of this, it is highly advisable to prepare the documents ahead of time to avoid any issues or complications in your booking.


Driver in the car controls the navigator.
Yuri Bizgaimer / Adobe Stock

These days a lot of US rental cars come with more advanced technology, so see if your car has a GPS satellite system. It’s essential to ask about it and remind yourself that having a GPS installed on your vehicle may carry additional fees for your overall rental expense.

The advantage of having a GPS on your car rental in New Orleans is that it will be a lot easier for you to explore its top destinations among weird and winding streets.

The GPS device can help navigate around the city so you can visit more hotels, restaurants, parks, and other attractions.

See Related: Best Restaurants In The New Orleans French Quarter

Obligations of Renters

While driving around New Orleans, be sure to check the local traffic regulations and speeds limits to ensure that you will not violate any existing law in the city or cause harm to other drivers. Be mindful of the street signs when driving day or night.

As much as possible, avoid speeding since car rental firms may impose steep fines once you are caught doing this. The goal is to drive and ride safely.

Fuel or Gas

Man refueling car from gas station
shangarey / Adobe Stock

When hiring a vehicle, keep in mind that most firms demand that the gas tank be refilled once it is 1/4 empty. You have to remember this rule so that you will not end up paying a higher charge from the rental firm. Fortunately, there are tons of gasoline stations in New Orleans.

Car Damage or Break Down

People discussing after a car crash
Paolese / Adobe Stock

You shouldn’t have to call the police when this happens (except for severe circumstances), but do contact your chosen rental firm as soon as possible. Most companies in New Orleans offer roadside assistance, depending on the current location of the car, and offer this service, day and night, even during peak times.

Vehicular Accident

Emergency Respondents
hedgehog94 / Adobe Stock

When you’re planning to rent a car than to easily walk along the streets of the city, it’s important to drive cautiously at all times.

Be mindful of the traffic laws, or be wary of the red light when driving around. If you do have an accident, the next logical step to do is to file a police report. The majority of car rental firms provide insurance coverage; therefore, call ahead and see if anything else needs to be done in the event of an accident.

Cleaning Up

Auto detailing of car interior
Nomad_Soul / Adobe Stock

Before you return the automobile, confirm with the local rental company whether they need you to clean it. Remember that as a rule, it is important for you to tidy it up. It’s just damned impolite to return a leased automobile that is unclean or damaged. You can also have it cleaned in car wash shops in the downtown area.

Returning the Car

Handling Car Keys
methaphum / Adobe Stock

In the contract that you signed upon renting a vehicle, you will see that there is a term. The rule is to return the car rental on or before the end date.

Failure to do this may lead to a fine, which means that you may need to pay more than the original agreed price. Some companies do charge additional fees if you do not return the car on time so be sure you know what these rules are before renting a car in New Orleans.

At the same time, be sure to check that the vehicle is in good condition before returning.

Drop-off charges for vehicles may apply, so be sure you know what to do before you leave your car. Most have a 15-to-30-minute grace period, so double-check that you’ve completed all the required paperwork before leaving the rental office.

See Related: A Local’s Guide to Mardi Gras in New Orleans: Making the Most of Carnival Season


If you do need a vehicle rental in New Orleans, do your homework to see whether it’s the best choice for you. Some travelers who visit the city prefer to rent because of their heavy itinerary during their stay in New Orleans.

At the same time, there are those who prefer walking or going on a ride using public transportation. The choice depends on your personal preference, as well as your travel plans.

After reading this article, you likely now have a better idea of whether you must make use of car rentals during your next trip to New Orleans, as well as exploring the city through walking.

Join our newsletter today to stay up-to-date on the latest rental news and deals in New Orleans!


Do you need a car while visiting New Orleans?

There is no need to hire a car all the time while visiting the state or staying at various New Orleans hotels. You can take advantage of the availability of taxes or other service providers like Uber or Lyft.

However, if you are planning to stay in the area for a long time or if your chosen location doesn’t have easy access to public transportation alternatives, then you should definitely rent a car.

What is the best way to get around New Orleans?

The city’s excellent and inexpensive public transportation system is open to anybody.

Trying out this new method of seeing the city will only enhance your experience. Take note that the bus and streetcar routes do not operate 24 hours a day. There are times when you may need to walk or stroll around the French Quarter or other top locations in the city.

Is driving in New Orleans easy?

Yes, traffic in New Orleans might be complicated, but the city center or mid-city is quite easy to get around. There are several bike paths to keep track of. This is one of the reasons why hiring a car may be useful.

Related Resources

Lock In Your Travel Now

Find Cheap Flights
Use Skyscanner to find flight deals. As my personal favorite flight search engine, Skyscanner scours websites and airlines across the globe, leaving no stone unturned to help you find the best deal possible. And if you really want to take your savings to new heights, pair Skyscanner with Going (Formerly Scott's Cheap Flights). With access to exclusive mistake fares delivered straight to your inbox, you'll be packing your bags and jetting off on your next adventure before you know it.

Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is a low cost way to ensure your travel plans go smooth no matter what's thrown at it. Cover yourself against illness, injury and theft, and protect the arrangements you've made with our flexible travel cancellation insurance. My favorite options for travel insurance are:

Book Your Accommodation
In order to capture the widest selection of properties and the best price, use as they have the cheapest rates for guesthouses, hotels, luxury condos, B&Bs and so much more.

Want More Destination Ideas Direct to Your Inbox?
Be sure to join the ViaTravelers Newsletter for expert tips, tricks and inspiration for your next travel journey!

Discover the Best Travel Tools
Be sure to visit our page on our favorite travel resources to learn how you too can visit over 10 countries in year.