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Santa Barbara Car Hire

Santa Barbara Car Hire

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Santa Barbara car hire information

Pick-up location Santa Barbara
Rental locations 14
Airport locations 8

Santa Barbara car hire reviews and directory

Rated no. 1
Budget
Best rated
7.8 Good (41 reviews)
2 locations in Santa Barbara
Budget
Locations in Santa Barbara
305 East Haley Street
+1 805 965 1070
500 Fowler Road
+1 805 964 6792
  • 7.8
  • 8.0
  • 8.4
  • 7.6
  • 7.3
Recent reviews
9.6 Excellent
20 Oct 2015
Pros: Counter person seemed genuinely concerned and apologetic about my treatment at LAX and went out of her way to contact LAX office to see if they found my drivers license which apparently wasn't returned with the rental papers by the person at the Budget lot exit at LAX
Cons: Nothing
8.8 Excellent
21 Oct 2015
Pros: nice and clean car. friendly at pick up.
10.0 Excellent
30 Nov 2015
Excellent 9.5
Pros: Easy to book, very quick pick up and return. Great value and flexibility, we were able to do a one way rental to a different airport for a fraction of the cost any place else. Car was great, new, clean, comfortable and fun to drive.
4.0 Okay
18 Apr 2016
Cons: Slow again.
7.6 Good
18 Jul 2016
too expensive
Pros: ease of drop off and pick up
Cons: Expensive last minute rental and they couldn't offer me a better deal at the counter because I booked through Kayak
4.0 Okay
12 Aug 2016
'Hidden likely costs'
Pros: The auto was good-- The chap was great and performed well
Cons: The fact that there was no education given to me about the 'hidden costs' and what I should plan on
5.2 Okay
2 Sep 2016
Pros: Great car Easy to drop of at LAX
Cons: Gas tank was not full Reserved car was not available way reserve a car?
10.0 Excellent
29 Sep 2016
Pros: Ease of pickup and friendliness of agent.
2.0 Mediocre
11 Oct 2016
Cons: They refused to honor my one-way reservation, also dude at the counter didn't know New Mexico was a state and said he wouldn't be able to work with foreign identification...this place is not cool
10.0 Excellent
17 Oct 2016
Pros: Employees were helpful and friendly.
Rated no. 2
Hertz
7.3 Good (55 reviews)
3 locations in Santa Barbara
Hertz
Locations in Santa Barbara
114 Moffett Pl
+1 805 967 0411
16 S. La Cumbre Road
+1 805 967 1927
633 E Cabrillo Blvd
+1 805 962 5305
  • 7.1
  • 7.2
  • 7.5
  • 7.1
  • 7.2
Recent reviews
7.6 Good
18 Oct 2016
Pros: Good, clean car.
Cons: Took a while (40 minutes) to pick up and to return the car.
6.0 Good
2 Apr 2018
Vehicle not ready
Pros: When I finally got a car, it was a nice one
Cons: Car wasn't available at pickup time
9.6 Excellent
4 Apr 2016
Pros: Excellent assistance at counter. Great to have counter open at that location Sunday. Please keep doing this as other car rentals are closed in downtown Santa Barbara
Cons: Your off-shore 800 number folks are hard to understand when you call to ask a question about rentals.
7.6 Good
2 Jul 2016
Pros: the car was clean and handled perfectly
Cons: it did not have cruise control which I value very much
2.0 Mediocre
23 Jul 2016
Wrong car
Cons: They did not have the car I booked, nor any other that could safely transport 3 seven year kids (carpool) in the back
3.6 Mediocre
1 Sep 2016
They tried to talk you in any insurance
Cons: And make you feel affraid of driving if you don't take their insurance.
8.0 Excellent
6 Nov 2016
Pros: Friendly service, great price. No haggle rental pick-up.
Cons: The car was dirty, it hadn't been vacuumed before we rented. They were definitely short-staffed, the guy behind the counter was running around putting out fires.
10.0 Excellent
31 Mar 2017
Pros: Upgrade to a larger vehicle. Car was clean and drove really well.
Cons: There was a mistake made in the contract (length of rental and drop off location), but it was corrected to my satisfaction in the end.
6.0 Good
3 Apr 2017
So So
Pros: Pick up and drop off was fine. Staying at Fess Parker so convenient. Would be helpful if personnel stayed with you and the car until you got acclimated. New car to me. I realize it wasn't a Mercedes, it was a Toyota? But the radio did not work, a recwarning light on the dash came on after 45 minutes, door open?? No way. Didn't know about ECO so used 3/4 tank going and a little over 1/4 returning. Did get a credit for the gas on return.
Cons: For me, convenient location. StAff on arrival was helpful about directions.
10.0 Excellent
26 Aug 2017
Pros: great mileage
Cons: lame sound system
Rated no. 3
Dollar
7.2 Good (30 reviews)
1 location in Santa Barbara
Dollar
Locations in Santa Barbara
500 Fowler Road
+1 866 434 2226
  • 6.7
  • 8.1
  • 8.0
  • 6.8
  • 6.5
Recent reviews
10.0 Excellent
17 May 2018
Pros: Easy pick-up.
10.0 Excellent
25 Mar 2016
Best customer service
Pros: Staff at the counter were the best and this location is so easy and convenient.
6.0 Good
26 Sep 2016
Cons: No place to park car
9.6 Excellent
2 Nov 2016
Great Rental Experience
Pros: Nissan Sentra was a great little car, good mileage, space, a bit weak on power. Dropping in San Diego was like magic, so quick and efficient. And pickup in Santa Barabara at 9 pm was also pretty easy.
Cons: Can't understand why you get such a charge for drop off in another city, especially from Santa Barbara to San Diego. Must be lots of traffic between the two all the time. Seems like a non reason to charge more.
5.6 Okay
17 Nov 2016
Gas tank price confusing
Pros: The car was great
Cons: I was overcharged for gasoline since they did not deduct the gas price from my final bill, even though I returned with a full gas tank. I also never received an e-mail receipt as the representative at the desk claimed. In the end I paid for a tank of gas that was not reimbursed.
10.0 Excellent
7 Dec 2016
Fast and affordable
Pros: No lines Return completed in 5 minutes literally
10.0 Excellent
1 Jan 2017
Excellent overall experience
Pros: From Pickup to Drop off, everything is perfect.
2.0 Mediocre
6 Feb 2017
Burned on "Manager's Special"
Pros: Standard rental company in the gathering of competitive rental companies in most airport terminals.
Cons: Got the "Manager's Special for $100", for 2 days, which was for a mystery car, but usually you can tell that it's a standard sedan. When I went to pick up, they offered me a Chevy Aero or something tiny, which would have cost the same as if I had reserved that type of car, without the mystery. No big whoop - I ask for an upgrade thinking it would be the difference between this class of car and the next class up. Nope - $45 extra dollars per day for a 2016 Chevy Impala (I rented in 2017) with 20K miles, that had no features on it and smelled funny. So $226 total for 3 days in a beater car by industry standards. Do you think that's a good deal? Will avoid Dollar in the future when I can.
9.2 Excellent
25 Apr 2017
Pros: The Nissan Altima was surprisingly comfortable, powerful and quiet during the 5-hour drive from Santa Barbara to Oakland via Hwy 101. Good gas mileage at 35 mpg. Pick-up and drop off was relatively quick and the employees were friendly and efficient. I will rent from Dollar again because of this experience.
Cons: Cost was higher than "normal" because we picked up the car at one location and dropped it at a different location.
6.8 Good
3 May 2017
Santa Barbara awkward
Pros: Great staff. Very friendly and willing to work with me.
Cons: ) 10.00 a gallon gas charge if car isn't full when there are no close buy and obviously labeled gas stations!!!! RIP OFF. 2) Had to call rental,company too find drop off location because of poor singage. Turns out location was excellent, just hard to define. 3) Bluetooth on my device not supported by vehicle, this is a Chrysler problem. They have a very awkward and limited audio system. Don't use Chrysler.
Rated no. 4
Alamo
8.4 Excellent (14 reviews)
1 location in Santa Barbara
Alamo
Locations in Santa Barbara
500 James Fowler Rd
+1 805 967 1204
  • 8.3
  • 7.9
  • 8.4
  • 8.4
  • 9.0
Recent reviews
8.0 Excellent
18 Dec 2018
Alamo cares
Pros: Dodge Caravan rode well, had decent gas mileage and plenty of room for 5 people and plenty of luggage, food and gifts. I informed Alamo front desk of cleanliness issue and they gave me a sizeable deduction on the rental cost!
Cons: The middle and back interior windows were not clean. Hand smears on a couple of them. Dust on the middle interior window ledges and exterior rear windows still had some dust and water streaks.
6.0 Good
15 Oct 2018
Pros: Friendly service at the counter.
Cons: The folks at the delivery refuses to mark the damage on the car so when I returned the car I had hard time convincing the people that car had already damaged on it and the people at the pick up place told me they know those already.
9.6 Excellent
5 Nov 2018
Pros: Pick up so easy at Santa Barbara airport
8.4 Excellent
23 Jan 2019
Pros: Easy in and easy out
Cons: The inside of the windshield had a glare from being sprayed with cleaner but not wipe completely. The Dodge Caravan was otherwise very clean.
10.0 Excellent
7 Feb 2019
Pros: very nice employees at the desk
8.0 Excellent
13 Feb 2019
Pros: Staff was helpful but we wanted to have 2 drivers on the registration, we were supposed to get extra driver for free. The gentleman at the counter was so fast we forgot to ask about the second driver and we called but they said we would have to return to the airport to redo the paperwork.
Cons: See above
10.0 Excellent
10 Mar 2019
Pros: The customer representative assisted me when my flight got delayed and I arrived at the car rental kiosk after hours.
9.2 Excellent
20 Mar 2019
Cons: Windshield was smeared and spotted with tree sap
10.0 Excellent
10 Apr 2019
Pros: the young man I worked with was excellent!
Cons: Nothing!
4.4 Okay
5 May 2019
Pros: I received a car
Cons: They didn’t have a car when I arrived at the rental (we ran out of cars). They told me to come back to the airport at 7am. I had to yell for 15 mins to get a random large van (not what I ordered).
Rated no. 5
Avis
7.9 Good (8 reviews)
2 locations in Santa Barbara
Avis
Locations in Santa Barbara
305 East Haley Street
+1 805 965 1079
500 Fowler Road
+1 805 964 4848
  • 8.0
  • 9.0
  • 7.8
  • 7.8
  • 7.0
Recent reviews
6.8 Good
28 Aug 2017
Failed to provide fullntank on pick up and no maps in car
Cons: No paper maps in car or available at pickup. Tank was supposed to be full. When i filled up from empty it showed 535 miles yet we traveled less Than 400 miles.
10.0 Excellent
17 Jun 2018
Pros: Didn't have to wait in a long line for pickup or drop off. Car worked well.
10.0 Excellent
8 Apr 2019
Pros: Accommodated special request
7.2 Good
14 Feb 2016
Not what it seemed - guy plugged in too many extra
Pros: Van was great, pickup was convenient, price seemed good, Drop-off easy
Cons: So day rate meant additional charges, including mileage and hours. That wasn't mentioned in the booking online. I bought the insurance through Kayak's site, but the guy said it was useless, should have bought avis insurance and tried to tack it on.
8.4 Excellent
13 Mar 2017
Hard to find where to drop off
Pros: She was nice and sympathetic to my horrible experience with the car, but didn't do much other than to say call LAX and complain.
Cons: Hard to figure out where to turn the keys in. I could find the lot, but no signs that you need to go into the terminal. It was dark... so if there are signs I didn't see them.
10.0 Excellent
26 Nov 2017
Pros: the car was easy to drive - good gas milage - very comfortable - service was quick.
2.4 Mediocre
5 Nov 2018
Unfriendly staff / Very Hard to locate
Cons: I have lieved in SB for 40 years and have driven to the airport many times. I drove past the Avis return 2x before finding it. The parking area is very poorly lit at night and the sinage is terrible. There are no arrows, signs,etc as to where to return the keys, the car, etc. The staff at the Avis desk was most unhelpful. The attendant appeared lazy and like I was bothering her to return the keys. I had the impression I had really interrupted her evening and she had more important things to do than check me out ad take the keys back. Very poor expereince.
8.4 Excellent
24 Jun 2019
Pros: Friendly and professional staff.
Cons: The rental car was not in the space on my card. No car was parked in that space. Luckily there was an attendant in the lot who approached me and found my car, and I did not have to return to the terminal.
Rated no. 6
Enterprise
7.7 Good (26 reviews)
3 locations in Santa Barbara
Enterprise
Locations in Santa Barbara
3210 State St
+1 805 569 6222
500 James Fowler Rd
+1 805 683 3012
601 Chapala St
+1 805 966 3097
  • 7.9
  • 7.8
  • 7.7
  • 7.6
  • 7.7
Recent reviews
4.4 Okay
3 Oct 2016
Pros: Car was ok
Cons: Additional costs (+45%) which I found out when returning a car.
10.0 Excellent
17 Oct 2016
Had to wait a few minutes but received an upgrade
Pros: Efficient and superb value
9.6 Excellent
1 Mar 2017
Successful Trip
Pros: The staff was very friendly, expedient and helpful at picking up and dropping off.
6.0 Good
28 Nov 2016
Good rental; poor telephone customer service
Pros: Rental was smooth, car was nice.
Cons: Telephone customer service was terrible. Poor communications overall.
8.8 Excellent
16 Dec 2016
Cons: went to drop off car, but there were no instructions on what to do. finally, i wandered into the terminal to find a desk after a few minutes. would be nice to have instructions for this out by where the cars are parked.
10.0 Excellent
3 Jan 2017
Pros: Excellent customer service at the airport
8.0 Excellent
23 Apr 2017
Pros: Representative efficiently corrected a billing error made by the representative in Los Angeles
10.0 Excellent
27 Nov 2018
Friendly
Pros: Staff were helpful and professional
2.0 Mediocre
2 Jan 2019
No work around offered
Pros: Counter accessibility
Cons: Lack of helpfulness. Didn't honor our pre-booked rental.
10.0 Excellent
17 Mar 2019
Pros: Friendly, quick
National
national
1 location in Santa Barbara
National
Locations in Santa Barbara
500 James Fowler Rd
+1 805 967 1204
Sunnycars
sunnycars
1 location in Santa Barbara
Sunnycars
Locations in Santa Barbara
500 Fowler Road, Goleta
174 travellers who rented a car in Santa Barbara gave the car agency they used an average rating of 7.6

Car hire locations in Santa Barbara

When to book a hire car in Santa Barbara

Average daily price per month
Car hire prices as pick-up date approaches
-1 day
-2 days

Top tips for renting a car in Santa Barbara

  • A hire car is the most comfortable and practical way to explore not only the city of Santa Barbara, but also nearby Los Angeles and other major destinations along the Californian coast. A car allows you to explore the city’s attractions at your own pace, including the Santa Barbara Harbor and the Maritime Museum. Los Angeles is a two-hour drive away, while San Francisco is five hours away.
  • All of the big car hire companies, including Alamo, Avis, and Hertz, can be found at Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (SBA), which is about 7 miles west of the city center. The hire car counters are located in the hire Car Building, which is right next to the airport terminal. Simply exit the terminal, go right, and follow the RCB signs.
  • Santa Barbara is at the base of the Santa Ynez Mountains, with some roads being quite hilly. Because it’s a colonial town, it still maintains some of its older characteristics, including narrow cobblestone streets with winding turns. If you’re not used to that type of driving, it’s best to park the car in one of the many lots and explore the Old Town by foot.
  • Traffic jams in California are a given, but Santa Barbara is easier to navigate. Traffic gets worse in the morning on the 101 heading north to Santa Barbara from other towns such as Carpinteria and Ventura, and on the opposite direction in the evening. Avoid driving within the rush hour periods, between 6:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., and then again between 4 and 7 p.m.
  • Book your rental car in Santa Barbara at least 1 day before your trip in order to get a below-average price

FAQs about hiring a car in Santa Barbara

What is the best rental car company in Santa Barbara?

Based on ratings and reviews from real users on KAYAK, the best car rental companies in Santa Barbara are Alamo (8.7, 6600 reviews), Enterprise (8.5, 12886 reviews), and Avis (7.6, 2264 reviews).

Which car hire agencies are at the airport: Los Angeles Airport (LAX)?

Car hire companies onsite at Los Angeles Airport include Thrifty, Budget, Hertz and Enterprise.

Which car rental companies will pick you up at the airport: Los Angeles Airport (LAX)?

Car hire companies that offer shuttle or pick-up services from Los Angeles Airport to off-airport locations include Alamo, Thrifty, Budget, Hertz and Enterprise.

How can I find car rentals near me in Santa Barbara?

Take a look at our extensive car rental location map to find the best rental cars near you.

What type of car is recommended for driving in Santa Barbara?

A hybrid car is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint while driving through Santa Barbara, but a convertible is a great option when cruising along the coast, especially in the summer, as you can drop the top and enjoy some scenic views. If you're going on a road trip with family or friends, a minivan offers more comfort and space for all the passengers.

What's the speed limit in Santa Barbara?

The speed limit in Californian cities is usually 25 mph, unless the posted signs say otherwise, particularly in school zones and other residential areas. Two-lane highways have a speed limit of 55 mph, while most highways have a 65 mph limit. However, some highways allow drivers to go a maximum speed of 70 mph.

How are gas prices in Santa Barbara?

The average petrol prices in Santa Barbara are about $3.47 per gallon. Lower prices can range anywhere between $3.15 and $3.35 per gallon. Petrolprices are usually cheaper in Santa Barbara than in Los Angeles, so if you’re going on a road trip to that side of the coast, make sure to fill up the tank beforehand.

Where are the best places to park in Santa Barbara?

There are several parking lots in the downtown and waterfront areas. Downtown parking also provides access to State Street and its surroundings, the Old Town, and the Waterfront areas. Parking is paid between 7:30 a.m. and 11 p.m., Sunday to Thursday, and 7:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The first 75 minutes are free and the following hours have a $1.50 hourly rate.