Chicago

By | 16th January 2018

Should you rent a car in Chicago?

Do you need a car in Chicago > Should you rent a car in Chicago USA > Chicago ( ORD )
Car: Do you need a car in 3? No car: Is it worth hiring a car in 3? Slider: Should you rent a car in 3? Should you rent a car in 3?

Chicago car hire quick facts

Cheapest rate for one week Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]

160

 #192/300

  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Chicago but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
How much should I expect to pay in the peak season? Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]

 €

290

 200/300

  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "whynot" section for more suggestions.
Free parking score Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking.Total 940 - of which 479 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

51

%

120/300

  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "whynot" section for more suggestions.

Chicago public transport quick facts

"Top trumps" train score

Higher scores go to the systems which take you to the most amazing places.

88%

#17/300

  • [full notes - top trumps trains]
  • A good rail system doesn't mean you shouldn't hire a car, but it often means you have a decent range of options.

Overall public transport score {coming shortly}

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel.

--%

#---/300

  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Chicago good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score {coming shortly}

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Chicago

--%

#---/300

Need, worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Chicago", "is it worth hiring a car in Chicago", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme:

Do you need a car in Chicago?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city.

Is it worth hiring a car in Chicago?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares?

Should you rent a car in Chicago?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?

Do you need a car in Chicago? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in Chicago?", this often breaks down to two key questions:

  1. Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
  2. Is it worth hiring a car in Chicago? Is it good value for money, compared with non-car options?

Over the next few sections, we wil look at the pros and cons of driving in Chicago as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in Chicago?

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments


[coming]

Why should you rent a car in Chicago?

What are the main reasons for hiring a car here? Do you just want to drive locally? Do you want to go further afield, or should you even look at taking a road trip?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Chicago?


Should you rent a car in Chicago?

  • Great Lakes — To get around the city of Chicago itself, there really is no reason to get a hire car, unless you want to behave like Ferris Bueller. To enjoy scenic areas around the Great Lakes or inland, then as with anywhere, a hire car will give you much more flexibility.
  • Base — Chicago is arguably still America’s main transportation hub — although Atlanta airport has taken the singular title of world’s busiest airport from Chicago O Hare, Chicago also has a secondary airport at Midway and sits at the centre of the Amtrak passenger rail network. So there’s a much wider choice of flights to Chicago from Europe in particular, and also from Asia. This naturally makes Chicago a good place to pick up a hire car and use as a base or a starting point for a road trip into other states.
  • Route 66 — Chicago is the start of the famous Route 66 which traverses some of the United States’ most dramatic scenery as it heads through the Rockies and Canyon lands into California. Note that if you are looking at picking up a hire car in Chicago and dropping it off somewhere else, it is worth checking each hire company’s policy on one-way rentals first as these can vary dramatically from one car hire provider to the next, and sometimes you can be stung with additional fees at the car hire desk if you do not double check the small print beforehand.

Why not? Visiting Chicago without a car

What is public transport like in Chicago? What about local conditions for walking or cycling? Can you rely on public transport and maybe a few taxis for most or all of your trip? Are there some times of year when it's easier to get by without a car than others? When should you rent a car in 3?


  • Architecture – The Windy city has so much to offer aficionados of architecture, crime capers and pizza, and it also offers plenty of easy options are getting around courtesy of the CTA transit system.
  • El – When it comes to elevated trains (Els), Chicago really is the pioneer. Whereas New York’s elevated subway lines and steamy heating ducts might have featured as a backdrop in more films, they are generally only used in the less glamorous suburbs. In Chicago, the “loop” travels around the downtown district giving stunning views of some of the city’s most famous skyscrapers.
  • Cycling city – Chicago has invested millions of dollars in new cycle lanes, making it one of the most bike friendly cities in the USA. There are now nearly 600 Divvy bike share stations across the city.
  • The 606 – this new walking and cycling trail runs east-west for 2.7 miles in the northwest of the city. Divvy bike hire is available near each of the five entrances.

 

Ratings

Our slider ratings range from 0 (it isn't even possible to hire a car, e.g. Hong Kong) through to 10 (you really must rent a car here, e.g. Phoenix, Tampa). However, most places are somewhere inbetween these extremes, and this is where it gets more interesting! Further ratings breakdowns, including a much more detailed public transport rating, are currently being added. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Should you rent a car in Chicago? Verdict: no


Would you hire a car in Chicago?

Have you driven in Chicago? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Chicago}?

Do you need a car in Chicago? For some or all of the time? 

Tell us what you think using the comments section below:


Category: USA

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