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Are you trying to figure out how to rent an RV for the trip of a lifetime? Or maybe you’re thinking along the lines of an adventurous spring or summer getaway. Comparing RV rentals isn’t exactly like researching hotels or vacation rentals. But knowing what to look for before you book your RV can make the search process easier as you don’t overlook key details.
Know Which Type of RV You Want to Rent
First and foremost, “RVs” come in all different sizes and amenities. Merriam-Webster lists camper, caravan, motor home, recreational vehicle, and trailer as synonyms for “RV.” Some RVs are drivable, while others must be towed to your camping destination.
Knowing if you want to rent a drivable RV or towable RV is the first step in your search process. At first, you might compare rental prices for both types to find the best option for your travel budget.
Here is a quick breakdown of which RV types are drivable and towable.
- Class A motorhome: Luxury cruisers built on a commercial bus frame with the most amenities.
- Class B motorhome: Sometimes known as a “camper van.” These are the smallest of the drivable RVs.
- (Very Popular) Class C motorhome: Smaller than Class A and has more amenities than Class B. This model has an overhead sleeping cab.
You don’t need a special license to drive any of these RV classes. For new campers, Class C is a popular option as you have plenty of space and amenities, plus they are relatively easy to drive.
For total luxury, you might consider a Class A, which is practically a mansion on wheels. But you’re also driving a commercial-sized bus or truck, which can be more complicated than you think. If renting a Class A, you can see if the owner will deliver if you plan on driving your personal vehicle to sightsee.
- Fifth-wheel: The largest of the towable RVs that attaches inside the truck bed (instead of the hitch)
- Travel trailer: The largest self-contained camper that attaches to a vehicle’s rear-end hitch
- Toy hauler: Hauls ATVs and motorbikes in an enclosed area that includes sleeping quarters
- Popup: Smallest of the towable RVs with basic amenities
You can haul a popup with passenger-size vehicles, but upgrading to a travel trailer gives you more space. A travel trailer or fifth wheel can be more budget-friendly than a drivable RV, and the RV owner may deliver it to your campsite if you don’t have towing capability.
As self-contained camping with your own toilet and shower is probably the best way to camp this year, larger towable RVs can give you more space. Some popup campers are “self-contained,” but many are not due to their small size.
Related: Best Credit Card Rewards for Road Trips
Compare Amenities and Delivery Options
In addition to finding an RV that is large enough to sleep your family, you should compare amenities.
Having your own bathroom and shower is a good idea for privacy and social distancing as some campgrounds are not opening their bathhouses. Some owners may offer to dump the tanks for you for an extra fee. But you will need to decide which camping chores you’re comfortable doing before you rent.
Other amenities you may want include:
- Slide-out kitchen
- Electric generator
- Rear backup camera
Depending on your travel plans, you will need to see if the rental is stationary or if you can transport it. Some RVs are a permanent setup. You want to avoid these if you’re going to go on a cross-country road trip.
For drivable RVs, see what the daily mileage limits are and compare them to your planned driving route. Potential excess mileage fees can be pricier than you think.
Saving money on a road trip is always a good idea, and knowing what you’ll need beforehand can help you avoid having to buy extra items.
You can stock up on groceries and save money by not going to restaurants. Take advantage of the best credit cards for groceries offers to earn more rewards like cash back or points and miles for future travel.
Chase Freedom Unlimited
One card you might consider bringing along is the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. Cardholders can earn at least 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Cardholders earn unlimited:
- 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 3% cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services
- 3% cash back on drugstore purchases
- 1.5% cash back on all other purchases
So, no matter where you go, you’ll always earn more than the standard 1% that most cards come with for their non-reward category purchases.
However, if you’re a new cardholder, this bonus is quite exciting. New Chase Freedom Unlimited® cardholders can earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything they buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back! That means new cardholders can enjoy the following:
- 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards® (Chase’s premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards, and more)
- 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases
- 4.5% on dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery service)
- 3% on all other purchases
New cardholders earn this extra 1.5% cash back on up to $20,000 spent in the first year.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited comes with a $0 annual fee, though there is a foreign transaction fee.
Review RV Insurance Guidelines
Expect your RV rental to come with standard RV rental insurance. Unfortunately, your credit card rental insurance doesn’t cover RV rentals. Basic insurance offers liability and comprehensive collection.
You might also be able to purchase premium coverage for higher coverage limits and a lower deductible.
Related: Best Credit Cards With Car Rental Insurance
Are there pet-friendly RVs and smoke-friendly RVs?
One advantage of camping is that you can bring your large pets that don’t qualify as airline carry-on pets. Many RV rentals are pet-friendly, and others are smoke-friendly too.
Make sure you read the applicable sections of the rental agreement to avoid potential fees. You might be able to bring your pet dog or cat along but might pay an extra cleaning fee if you leave behind pet hair or odor.
Minimum Age to Rent an RV
You will most likely need to be at least 25 years old and have a valid driver’s license to rent an RV. Some owners may require you to be closer to 30 years old. You will need to check if this might apply to you.
Cost to Rent an RV
Below is what you might pay per night to rent an RV:
- Class A motorhomes: $150-$300
- Camper vans and Class B motorhomes: $100-$300
- Class C motorhomes: $130-$275
- 5th wheel: $80-$250
- Travel trailer: $50-$150
- Toy hauler: $60-$200
- Popup: $50-$100
Prices vary by region, travel dates, and the quality of the camper. A brand-new or high-end RV will cost more than an older model or an entry-level edition.
Related: The Best Rewards Credit Cards in 2023
Check Your Campground Policies
In addition to finding the perfect RV, you need to review the campground guidelines. Primarily, you want to reserve a spot that’s large enough to fit your RV and has the necessary hookups.
Also, don’t forget to compare several area campgrounds to find the best price and quality. Also, remember that cheaper campgrounds are not always better as they may have a rowdier crowd or unkept amenities.
Where to Rent an RV
You have several places to rent an RV locally or at your travel destination. These are some of the places to consider to compare rental prices.
RVshare is a peer-to-peer rental site similar to Airbnb. You will find towable and drivable RVs across the United States, and many owners offer nearby delivery to your campsite. Our RVshare review can help you learn more about this popular RV rental service.
Another peer RV rental site is Outdoorsy. Delivery is available, and you can find rentals in the US and Canada.
There are many regional RV rental companies, as well. Cruise America is one of the largest and best-known. You can rent Class C motorhomes or truck campers that fit in a pickup truck bed.
Once you know where you want to go, you can decide which RV to rent. Picking an RV can be an exciting time for first-time campers. Even experienced campers may appreciate renting a bigger and better model to go “glamping” instead of camping.
Is it a good idea to rent an RV?
Renting an RV can be a good decision if you want to avoid the close quarters of a hotel or want to take a road trip. Depending on which RV model you rent and your campsite fees, renting an RV can be cheaper than staying in a hotel or renting a vacation villa.
You will need to decide whether you want a drivable or towable RV. Each type has its pros and cons. Class A motorhomes can be challenging to drive and subject to length, width, and height restrictions. Drivable RVs have more space and amenities but get poor gas mileage (be sure to use one of the best gas credit cards to get the most out of your purchases).
Towable RVs require you to have a towing-capable vehicle, and you will need to be able to back up a trailer. However, some RV owners will deliver your trailer to the campsite, so you don’t have to tow your rental.
What is the best way to rent an RV?
Using a peer-to-peer booking site like RVshare or Outdoorsy can be useful to rent an RV as you speak directly with the owner. You might get more personal service and can handpick the perfect RV that has the right amount of space and amenities for your family.
These sites might also be cheaper as you can rent older models that may not be as fancy or nice as new models but are still comfortable and protect you from the elements.
A second option is using an RV rental firm like Cruise America. Although your selection is smaller (you might only be able to rent Class C motorhomes), you deal with a company instead of an individual owner. You may have better customer support if you have camping questions or run into trouble. Rental firm RVs are more likely to be newer, which can bring more peace of mind.
Related: Best Credit Cards for Family Travel
What is the best RV to rent?
A Class C motorhome is the best option if you want a drivable RV. This RV type is smaller than a Class A (the largest model you can rent) but still offer plenty of living space and amenities. It can also still be easy to drive despite being more extensive than a standard pickup truck or SUV.
A travel trailer can be your best option for a towable RV for amenities and rental prices. Most passenger trucks and SUVs can pull them using a hitch if the owner doesn’t deliver to your destination.
Ultimately the best type of RV to rent depends on your travel budget, travel needs, and what travel vehicle you’re taking. If you want to keep the wear and tear off your car, you may choose a drivable RV or choose RV delivery.
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