Last Updated on September 30, 2022 by Michael

Planning a family road trip? You might be wondering if it is better to bring or rent a car seat. Rental car companies have plenty of car seats on hand—infant, toddler and booster. But they come at a steep cost. Happily, there are several ways to get a car seat for free if you plan ahead.

Renting a Car Seat From a Rental Car Company

The first thing you might consider when weighing whether to bring or rent a car seat is money. If you rent a car seat from the rental car company, be prepared to pay through the nose. Rental car companies charge $10-$15 per day, per seat, plus tax. These fees can add up quickly, especially if you have more than one child, and don’t forget that there’s tax on top of that as well.

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Thankfully, most companies have a maximum charge per rental for each seat, with the Enterprise, National, and Alamo coming in lowest at $66 per rental, Avis and Budget at $70, and Hertz, Dollar, and Thrifty being the most expensive at $98 per rental. For that amount of money, you could buy a brand new car seat and not have to deal with the germs and dirt of a hundred previous renters.

Child Safety Seats From Rental Car Companies

Alamo Car Seat RentalAvis Car Seat RentalBudget Car Seat RentalDollar Car Seat RentalEnterprise Car Seat RentalHertz Car Seat RentalNational Car Seat RentalPayless Car Seat RentalSilvercar Free Car Seat RentalSixt Car Seat RentalThrifty Car Seat Rental

Depending on the booking channel, a car seat may be able to be requested at the time of booking, though requests aren’t guaranteed, and the fee to rent the car seat will not be included in the quote provided by the rental car company. To maximize the chance of having a car seat available for your trip, we recommend calling the rental car company directly after you book to have it added to your reservation.

Forget to book a car seat in advance? Don’t sweat it. Rental car companies tend to have a ton of child safety seats on hand because, like most services offered by commission-based agents at the rental car counter, they are highly profitable.

Note that due to the potential liability of incorrectly installed car seats, most rental car companies forbid staff from helping to install child safety seats. Really. Instead, they are likely to place the car seat loose inside the car or even on top of the car and give parents installation instructi