North America > United States > Chicago
See: Why rent a car in Chicago ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments
(All of these pages will look a lot nicer when they are tidied up later in the spring)
Your key questions for any destination:
Do I need a car in Chicago ?
Strictly speaking, there are very few travel destinations anywhere in the world where it's absolutely essential to rent a car in order to see the main points of interest.
That's why we give you loads of ratings scales from 1 to 10, rather than just yes or no answers!
- The need question is generally answered by looking at public transport (transit) options. Is it good enough for visitors who are happy to consider using it?
- How many public transport routes are there, and are they mainly rail or road (bus) based?
- Is public transport fast, frequent, safe, reliable and cheap?
- Does public transport actually take you to the places you'll probably want to see?
Is it worth hiring a car in Chicago ?
This question is usually more about value for money. For this, we look at Chicago car hire options, and consider how rental costs compare with using transit.
How far are you likely to drive anyway, and how much might you expect to spend on fuel, road tolls, parking and any other charges. We compare Chicago with other destinations locally and around the world.
This is obviously much more of an issue if you are planning a longer road trip than it is on a small island.
Should I rent a car in Chicago ?
This is basically a merging of the two questions. Everything else might be about giving certain facts about the costs of car rental or using public transport in Chicago , but answering this question is very much a matter of opinion.
Please note that Carornocar.com is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2022 (northern hemisphere) tourist season.
We do not intent to include detailed covid information, nor do we intend to suggest hiring a car, just because public transport might still have a mask requirement. Our advice will be based on the same criteria we've always used, ie whether or not you can get a better travel experience, or at least a better value one, by choosing not to hire a car.
Chicago is in car rental price band: 5/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)
General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Chicago ?
Sometimes. Economy rental prices are average by global standards.
Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Chicago between the peak and the off peak season?
5/10 (0 = stable prices)
Driving score: 7/10
Non car score:5/10
(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)
General comment -
Why? Visiting Chicago using a hire car
Why do you need a car in Chicago ?
Should you rent a car in Chicago?
Why not? Visiting Chicago without a car
Why don't you need a car in Chicago ?
Ratings: How does Chicago compare?
Is it worth hiring a car in Chicago ? TBC
This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Chicago , and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.
How does this compare if:
You are travelling:
Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc
Does car rental make sense on different budgets?
Do you need to hire a car in Chicago ? TBC
This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Chicago (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".
Should you rent a car in Chicago ? TBC
This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good.
See global comparisons
Hiring | Driving | Parking
Trains | Buses | Local travel
Car hire basics:
Public transportation basics:
Regular bus services: YES
Coach (inter-city): YES
High Speed Rail:
Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):
As you start ....
Does Chicago airport have a direct rail link?
(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No
Has our advice for Chicago car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?
2017 - 3
2019 - 6
2021 - 6
Average score - 5
Should you rent a car in Chicago? Verdict: no
Do you or don't you need a car in Chicago ?