Canadian Rockies Car Rentals

Canadian Rockies car rentals provide flexibility and can save you money. If you have a rental vehicle (or your own car), you can travel at your own pace, access trailheads, and stay at lodges outside of the main towns.

The good news is that all major car rental companies are represented at the gateway cities of Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver, with both airport and downtown locations. You will also find the following companies represented in the Canadian Rockies:

Banff: Avis, Budget, Hertz, Enterprise
Canmore: Enterprise
Jasper: Avis, Budget, Enterprise

The bad news is that demand is high during the peak summer months (mid-June to early September), so prices can be high and availability low.

Avis/Budget has an office in downtown Banff.

Avis/Budget has an office in downtown Banff.

Getting the Best Canadian Rockies Car Rental Deal

Car rental rates vary even more than airline fares. The price depends on the size of the vehicle, the length of time you keep it, where and when you pick it up and drop it off, where you take it, and a host of other factors. The following tips could help save you hundreds of dollars:

DO THE MATH. Search out rentals using a variety of car rental websites, with different pickup locations—the airport you are arriving at, off-airport and then from the Canadian Rockies locations listed above with the cost of an airporter factored in.

BOOK AS FAR IN ADVANCE AS POSSIBLE. Most rental companies do not take a deposit (see below for the exception, which is another way to save money), so if you find a cheaper deal closer to your vacation, simply cancel the original booking.

PAY NOW. Most major rental companies offer a “Pay Now” rate that may be 30% lower than the regular rate, but cancellation comes with a  fee, so check before paying.

PAY FOR A WEEKLY RENTAL. If you’re keeping the vehicle for five or more days, a weekly rate may be cheaper than the daily rate.

CHECK RATES FOR DIFfERENT VEHICLE TYPES. Often, a Full-Size vehicle will be the same cost as an Intermediate, and occasionally you may find an SUV for a similar price.

RENT YOUR VEHICLE FROM SOMEPLACE OTHER THAN AN AIRPORT. At Calgary International Airport, for example, a Concession Recovery Fee adds over 15% to your total charge. To save this charge, rent a vehicle at one of the dozens of downtown agencies.

CHECK YOUR FREQUENT-FLIER ACCOUNTS. Airlines often team up with rental car companies to offer you incentives to use their services. For example, Air Canada offers up to 30% discounts on Avis rentals for its Aeroplan members.

Join a car rental loyalty program. Even if the rental is a one-off, you will often get quicker service when checking in and even be upgraded if vehicles are available.

 DO NOT PURCHASE A REFUELING PACKAGE. Most companies offer a set fee to refuel the vehicle upon its return. Gas prices are often competitive, but you don’t get credit for any gas remaining in the tank.

YOUR CREDIT CARD MAY HAVE LOSS DAMAGE WAIVER (LDW) INSURANCE. This will save you an additional fee of around $20 to $35 per day. Do check what class of vehicle your credit card insurance covers, as it may not cover SUVs or luxury vehicles.

[H2] Canadian Rockies Car Rental Price Comparison

The chart below is not an indication of actual pricing as this varies greatly throughout the year, but you can use the chart below to see the prices when renting from various locations.

The following prices are from the Avis website, in Canadian dollars for a Standard sized car in July, booked six months in advance and including all taxes.

Calgary Airport $220 $660 $1360 $1,350
Calgary NE (Royal Hotel) $120 $330 $850 $750
Banff $185 $555 $1,350 $1,250


How to Save over $1000 on a Canadian Rockies Car Rental

Or how to save $1,390 to be precise. If you are flying into Calgary for a six-day Canadian Rockies vacation, you will probably arrive in the afternoon or evening, so getting to Banff that same day is not necessary. With that scenario, here is the best money-saving strategy:

Reserve vehicle off-airport at the Royal Hotel $850
Reserve for 7 days and return the vehicle early ($100)
Use a credit card for LDW $0
Use airline or AAA discount ($100)
Book one night at the Royal Hotel $160
Airport to hotel taxi $30
Breakfast for 2 (included in hotel cost) $0
Total for 6-day rental and 1-night lodging $840


Roundtrip airporter for 2 to Banff $320
Rental for 6 days from Banff $1,350
Book one night at a standard Banff hotel $500
Breakfast for 2 $60
Total for 6-day rental and 1-night lodging $2,230


When You Shouldn’t Rent a Car in the Canadian Rockies

A Canadian Rockies car rental is not always necessary. Here are a few scenarios when you would not need a rental:

  • If you are planning to stay in Banff or Jasper and take day tours, you would not need a car. Banff and Lake Louise also have excellent public transit systems.
  • If you are staying in Banff, Lake Louise, or Jasper for a ski holiday, there are regular buses to all the resorts.
  • If you are uncomfortable driving on snow-covered roads in winter.
  • If you are under 21 you can’t rent a car from any of the major rental companies. If you are under 25 you may be required to leave a hefty deposit and/or pay a much higher rate for insurance.