Last Updated on February 18, 2024 by Kristin

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If you’ve researched a Hawaii car rental lately, you know that vehicles in the Aloha State cost a pretty penny. That’s if you are lucky enough to even lay your hands on one. While the Covid-19 pandemic has certainly played a role, the bigger story is a bit more complicated. Here’s what’s going on.

Hawaii Car Rentals Have Always Been Popular

Rental cars in Hawaii have always been relatively pricey. But now they’re even more expensive due to an ongoing rental car shortage. Even before Covid-19 changed the travel landscape, we were recommending booking a rental car as early as possible. That strategy helps you get a good rate and avoid scrambling after a long flight.

But now, many tourists are finding that Hawaii car rentals are scarce. If you can find a vehicle, it is likely renting for hundreds of dollars a day. It makes sense that Hawaii would have a tight supply of rental cars, considering the state is an island destination. This has especially been the case during peak travel seasons like the end-of-year holidays. But now, making a rental reservation well before a trip to Hawaii isn’t just a good idea—it’s crucial.

Ask AutoSlash for a Quote on a Cheap Car Rental

If you plan to rent a car in Hawaii, ask AutoSlash for a quote before finalizing your trip. We scour the internet for publicly available deals, discounts and coupons to make sure nothing is left on the table.

Hawaii’s Car Rental Fleets Have Shrunk

While Hawaii car rentals have always been in demand, they’re especially expensive now. That’s because demand is outstripping supply now that more tourists are flocking back to its islands.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority has noted that the supply of rental cars has dropped more than 40% during the pandemic. That problem has only been exacerbated by a recent increase in the number of visitors. Maui and Kauai have seen the worst of the shortages, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported in July.

While public transportation options exist in many areas of Hawaii, tourists love renting cars for convenience and easy access to destinations like the scenic Hana Highway.

A Mix of Factors Caused the Shortage

So what’s causing Hawaii’s rental car shortage and subsequent high prices? There are multiple factors at play.

For starters, the state has always had the constraint of being made up of remote islands. Shipping in cars and other goods is generally quite expensive.

However, Hawaii’s rental car shortage is also reflective of a nationwide problem in destinations like Orlando, Tampa, Phoenix and Denver. However, Hawaii’s shortages are particularly severe and have led to exorbitant prices.

How Long Will Hawaii Rentals Be Expensive?

It’s hard to say how long Hawaii will see sky-high rental prices, and when the ongoing shortage might ease. For now, it’s best to assume you’ll be paying a high price for a Hawaii car rental. That’s if you’re lucky enough to get a reservation in the first place. Ask AutoSlash to track your reservation for price drops so you won’t pay a dime more than you need to.

Let AutoSlash Track Your Car Rental for Price Drops

And even when Hawaii’s car rental shortage problem improves, another factor is contributing to higher prices. Hawaii will gradually increase its surcharge over the years from $5 to $7.50 by 2027, Jeffsetter Travel reports.

To increase your chances of getting a vehicle at a reasonable price, book your trip as far in advance as possible. Look at estimated rental car prices and availability before finalizing your plane tickets.