How to Get a Dirt Cheap One-Way Car Rental

Outback road trip
Get cheap one-way car rentals by taking advantage of relocation deals. Photo: Pixabay.

Just like booking a one-way international flight, renting a car for a one-way trip can be very expensive. But there are exceptions. In fact, by booking a one-way car hire relocation deal you may even be able to save hundreds of dollars!

From time to time, car rental companies need to relocate their vehicles for a variety of reasons. For example, somebody may have driven a car one-way, and it needs to be returned. Or perhaps it’s the end of the peak tourist season in that part of the world, so the company wants to reposition the car to an area where demand will be higher over the coming months.

But it’s expensive to pay couriers or freight companies to relocate cars, so many car rental companies instead offer heavily discounted one-way car hire relocation deals.

While prices vary, one-way car relocation deals typically cost around $1 or $5 per day (this price may not include booking fees). In some cases, the rental may be free and occasionally, a generous fuel allowance is even thrown in. Overall, this still works out cheaper for the car rental business than paying to get the vehicle transported. So it’s a win-win!

As well as cars, these deals also regularly include motorhomes and campervans.

If you’re just looking for a one-way car rental anyway, it’s worth looking for a relocation deal because it’s clearly much better value than paying regular retail rates.

If you’re planning a road trip holiday, it’s also worth checking what’s available. Using a one-way car hire deal, you could fly to your destination and then drive back for a very low price, stopping to see the sights along the way. Or, book an open-jaw plane ticket (e.g. Sydney-Alice Springs, returning from Darwin-Sydney) and then hire a campervan to take a road trip between the two airports – which in this case would a great outback road trip adventure.

Where to find one-way car relocation deals

There are many websites that advertise one-way car hire relocation deals, but the two main ones in Australia are imoova.com and Transfercar.

At the time of writing, imoova has 121 one-way car hire offers listed in Australia. These include cars that need to get from Hobart to Byron Bay, Adelaide to Melbourne, Brisbane to Cairns and many other places.

If you’re willing to drive a motorhome from Brisbane, Cairns, Sydney or Melbourne to Alice Springs – or from Perth, Brisbane or Cairns to Darwin – imoova currently has listings that will cost you just $1/day – plus you’ll even get $250 worth of fuel included. There are even offers from Cairns to Darwin that include up to $600 of fuel!

Meanwhile, Transfercar currently has 161 listings in Australia. This includes 80 offers departing Sydney and 43 from Melbourne.

Transfercar listings
Transfercar one-way rentals available in Australia as of 16 March 2021.

My $10 car rental experience

I gave imoova a try on a recent holiday, booking a one-way car hire deal from Port Lincoln to Adelaide in South Australia for $5 per day. I was planning to do the 800km trip over two days, so the price was $10.

Admittedly, I ended up paying a fair bit more than $10. Firstly, this price didn’t include GST or a 1.19% credit card surcharge, which increased the price to $11.21. It also didn’t include a $35 imoova booking fee (paid directly to imoova at the time of making the reservation) and I ended up paying about $67 in total for fuel. Still, I was very happy with the amount I paid.

Hyundai Europcar car rental
For $10 (plus fees & taxes), I received a Hyundai Kona for the 800km trip from Port Lincoln to Adelaide. Photo: Matt Graham.

When booking on imoova.com, there was no information provided about the type of car, rental company or even whether the car would be picked up and dropped off at airport or city locations. This information was only provided after I submitted a request and it was approved two days later.

My car ended up coming from Europcar, and it was being listed as a one-way relocation deal because it needed to be sent to Adelaide to be sold. I didn’t experience any issues and enjoyed the drive!

So if you’re thinking about taking a road trip over the upcoming break, a one-way car relocation could be a great value option. You may also wish to check out Australian Frequent Flyer’s Ground Transport, Cruising & Rail forum where AFF members are welcome to ask questions about topics including car hire and road trips.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]

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Peter Donahue

Readers need to be aware that using these schemes means you can’t take quite as long as you might like to travel between places. The allowed time is enough to prevent rushing but you can’t dawdle or explore either. Sydney to Alice Springs is about 2800km and you’re given 5 days so that’s over 550km per day.

Margaret Guthrie

We have used Imoova many times and thoroughly recommend relocating cars or camper vans as an option. Sure, you are allocated the number of days to complete the deal. BUT, sometimes you can buy extra days. For example, we relocated a van from Perth to Adelaide – an unforgettable experience. This was some years ago. But from memory, we were allocated 5 or 6 days so we bought an extra day fro $75. We made several stops along the way, saw whales, and visited places we might otherwise not have done. I think we got $250 for fuel. I highly… Read more »