Is a cheaper car rental a bargain?

You can rent a car for a week for as little as $31, if you book it online. I didn’t know this until I read it on the Cruz Bay Forum at TripAdvisor.com.  The going rental rate for a car on St. John is $60/day.

The discount is from Priceline.com. Thrifty is offering deals ranging from Carrental$254/week for an economy car, including taxes and fees, up to $270/week for a full size vehicle.  Of course, you also have to add
the cost of a car barge round trip from Red Hook to Cruz Bay.  But then, you’re not paying for a taxi and luggage to and from the airport, and that just about makes up the barge fee.  It may even be cheaper if you’ve got four people.  (Click on the photo at right for a bigger picture of the rates.)

Now, I’m not encouraging this.  And neither was one of the forum’s
members,"isle263," who wrote "Cheaper????? What if something happens to
the car? I don’t think they will drop what they are doing and take a
taxi to the ferry, ferry to taxi in St. John to fix my car.  i just
feel better knowing Delbert and Elaine will send help."  (Referring to Delbert Hill, www.delberthillrentals.com).

This is a very good point.  It’s why we always rented on St. John and now keep a car on island (a nearly 15-year-old Suzuki Sidekick
which is dwarfed by all the SUVs which are too large for the island’s
roads.  You’re not in commuter traffic on expressways on island! Do St.
John a favor – no matter what, rent small.  It’s a small island.

The message thread about car rentals began in May when a visitor
from Oregon complained about being treated rudely by an agent working
for Conrad Sutton, www.conradcars.com.
But another vacationer, "Josieann", said she’d used Sutton in April,
"and had absolutely no problems.  The person inside (I think it was
Conrad’s daughter) couldn’t have been nicer."

25 thoughts on “Is a cheaper car rental a bargain?”

  1. Frank,
    I agree with you about the size on cars on St. John. A small SUV like yours or a Vitara are perfect. The large SUVs creat many parking and driving issues. I strongly recommend Paris car rental for speed and efficiency. I did not want any car issues during my vacation and the $150/week savings (by renting on St. Thomas)would not be worth it if a problem occurred.

  2. I agree with Andy. Also, I like to keep my business on-island for the sake of supporting on-island business.
    We know a couple from our town that visits at least twice a year that flies 1st class for a 3 hour flight yet rents vehicles on St. Thomas and takes all their own food “to save money” To each their own I guess.

  3. Heather, I also know a couple who fly first class and bring food, not to save money, but to have nice juicey Costco cut New York and Tri Tip Steaks. Okay so they save money also.
    Yep to each their own.
    Oh, but they do rent a car on STJ.

  4. Frank, you need 4WD for your driveway alone. We have rented you house several times. It is a
    great house by the way. The only thing wrong with it – it’s not available the first week of Dec.
    In reference to Suttons, we have been renting cars from them for 10
    or more years. They are great people and have always been wonderful to do business with. I wouldn’t rent from anyone else. Most (not all) the locals treat you as well as you treat them.

  5. Dear Kay:
    Yep, “Great Dammit Drive” is an experience.
    Once, when a cab was taking my wife’s parents up, my mother in law fell out of the back.
    I always know I’m in better shape at the end of the visit than at the beginning when I can run (or at least plod) up the hill. At the start of a stay, I can’t get 5 steps.
    We also think of Great Dammit as a security precaution. Imagine anyone trying to walk down it with a TV set. Hah!
    As for 1st week in Sec … Thanksgiving week’s still available (http://bluetang.vi/rates.htm)?
    Thank you, too, for the kind words. We love the house, too.

  6. We usually rent a jeep from Avis in STT. It’s reasonable. You can pick up and return at the airport so no taxis or ferry. Avis is the only company that allows their cars on the barge. We tried renting from Hertz once and when they found out we were staying on STJ they wouldn’t let us have the car. Also even with Avis if something goes wrong on STJ their STT mechanic connection will not come over to bail you out. Check about the barge before you rent.

  7. i have rented a 2-door Suzuki many times before but i cannot seem to find a company which still rents them. all they seem to offer is the jeep wrangler which is more expensive and more than i need. any suggestions?

  8. We own a condo at Battery Hill, come to St. John regularly and have rented a few times at Conrad Sutton. We did encounter a rather sullen young woman on one occasion. We also encountered a gracious, outgoing older (not old, just older) woman who warmly invited my husband to her church. He went and felt welcomed by all.

  9. We too love those Costco steaks. We will be coming down in late August with just carry-ons and 4 of those babies frozen solid inside a kids lunchbag.

  10. While we are on the subject of renting cars, let’s expand this discussion to include, cars on St. John in general. It is time for a couple of grants to be written if the island(s) qualifies, one for Federal Highway Funds and one for island beautification. In all the years, I have been coming to St. John, I have only observed the tennis courts being used once, last year in fact. Island Fathers, please look into Federal Highway Grant Funds to build a parking garage on the tennis courts or on the Motor Vechicle grounds. Then may I also suggest writing a beautification grant to close off the pier loop to cars and make it pedestrian traffic only or with golf carts. Then cars could be directed by the gas station near the school, pass the lumber yard and out to the National Park Road. The taxi surreys could face toward the park. Pollution would then be down at the pier. Add to this a school district grant for vocational training for the trades/eng/landscaping etc to work on the project! And there is probably an arts grant to apply for that would allow local artists to create the exterior of the parking garage. Sandy

  11. We rented a car at Budget in St. Thomas only to learn that we would be fined $1000 for taking it over to St John. We ended up having to rent a large SUV for $85/day – ridiculous!
    We also checked a large cooler of food from NY and were glad that we did. Island food prices are extremely high-double and sometimes triple what you pay in the States.
    Dinner was also pricey given the quality. Overall, beautiful island but I doubt that we will return given the expense of the car rental (we stayed 2 weeks), basic food, and overall lack of affordable quality dining.

  12. Hey Frank! Great site! My band the Crunchy Western Boys (www.cruchywesternboys.com) will be on the island at the end of Jan begining of Feb and were wondering about generator rentals…or a deep cycle marine battery with a power converter…to power my bass…the rest of the band can be acoustic…we’re looking for some more places to play, but also a way to practice. Know anyone who would rent me an upright bass? is there a music store on island? thanks for the rental car info! we’re staying at Cinnaman bay…we should probably rent a car, yeah? any info would be GREATLY appreciated! Heck, there’s a cd in for ya!! ;-)) thanks!

  13. We try to spend 2-3 weeks each a couple of times per year on St. John. I’ve wondered if I should consider buying an old Jeep and storing it between visits. Has anyone tried this?

  14. As a person who has a tight budget, renting a cheaper car is a big bargain. But it usually depends on the rental company. Sometimes the more expensive rental cars are coupled with better customer service and worthwhile packages than the cheaper ones.

  15. It’s good to patronize cheap rental cars, especially if they have same quality as their expensive counterparts. I’ve never tried one, but some of my friends have and they seem to have enjoyed the experience. But the quality of a drive still depends on the services they have. Most of expensive rental cars have double the quality of cheap ones. 🙂

  16. Cheap cars are quite practical. I tried to rent once for a short travel, and my sister also enjoyed her long road trip with her friends on a rented car. There is no harm in trying those cheap rentals.

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