In this series, I will talk about how to use Buffalo as an alternate airport to Toronto.
- Buffalo Airport Overview
- Examples of savings
- Driving to Buffalo Airport from Toronto
- Where to park at Buffalo Airport
- Getting to Buffalo Airport – The 1-way Car Rental
- Getting to Buffalo Airport – Bus, Shuttle & Taxis
- Using Buffalo Airport when visiting Toronto
In previous posts, I commented on the benefits of using Buffalo airport. I commented on the best ways to drive there and the potential savings that can be had over the airport in Toronto. There are a few different ways to get to Buffalo Airport. In this post, I’ll talk about getting to Buffalo using the 1-way car rental.
Options to Consider
For those people who either don’t have a car, or don’t want to take their car to Buffalo, there are other options.
|Option||Dollar Cost||Time Cost||Notes|
|1-way car rental||$65-$150 / day car rental + gas||90 minutes||Rates vary for car rentals between YYZ & BUF airports|
|Bus||$20 / person||3 hours (often closer to 4 hours)||All passengers must get off the bus with their luggage when crossing the border|
|Airport Shuttle||$100 / person||90 minutes||Shuttle between YYZ & BUF airports|
|Taxi||~$200 / trip||90 minutes||Depends on location in GTA|
Advantages of the 1-way rental
My favorite option for getting to Buffalo Airport from the Toronto area is to do a 1-way car rental. I like the 1-way car rental for many reasons:
- Save on parking charges (great for long trips)
- Can fly in and out of different airports
- Get a warm car when you land (great in the winter)
- Can take a larger / more reliable car than you own
- Great if you don’t own a car
- Benefits of crossing the border in a private car instead of a bus (no need to empty the luggage at the border)
- Can easily split costs if traveling in a group
What you will want to do is try to rent a car from somewhere in Toronto (preferably near your home) and drop that car off at Buffalo Airport when you get there. The airport locations definitely will allow this with their cars, but the off-airport locations can sometimes be strict about where you can return their cars. Depending on your situation, you may have to go to Toronto’s Pearson Airport to get your car the night before you leave for your trip to Buffalo.
First off, make sure that you make a reservation that includes a 1-way car rental. If you just drop off the car at a different location than expected, you are going to pay a large drop fee (likely in the $500+ range). Make sure you make your reservation accordingly.
I have, on occasion found these one-way rentals for $65 / day, inclusive of taxes for rentals between the 2 airports. In general, though, the cross-border rentals tend to be quite pricey. Most of the time, these tend to go for over $150 / day. If you are paying this much for a one-way car rental, after accounting for gas and tolls, you are likely better off getting a taxi which will provide door-to-door service. From my analysis, it doesn’t appear that renting a car for one of the directions is significantly cheaper than the other.
It appears that car rental prices vary depending on the days and times that the car is being rented for. The carriers that I have used in the past for 1-way rentals are Hertz, Alamo and Thirfty. I find that using http://www.carrentals.com is a great resource for finding the rental rates. You can make your reservation right from Carrentals.com and you don’t have to put down any payment upfront. If you want to prepay for your car, and thus guarantee your car, then www.hotwire.com and www.expedia.com are my preferred choices.
Cross-Border car rentals
Up until June, 2012, Canadian citizens were restricted from bringing US car rentals into Canada. In practice, this was never enforced. However, this is no longer an issue. What is an issue is the insurance restrictions. When you rent a car to drive in a different country, make sure to let the people at the rental counter know that you will be driving it across a border and they will give you the appropriate documentation.
When renting cars, always be sure to:
- Keep the return receipt
- Ensure that the return receipt shows that you returned the car full of gas
Personal anecdote: My most recent experience using Hertz for a cross border one way rental ended up causing me some stress. It appears that the Canadian and US Hertz operations are not connected so when I returned the car to the Hertz in Canada, it took a few days for the return to be processed by the American division. For the 3 or 4 days, I was called multiple times by Hertz (US) asking me why I hadn’t returned the car. I was also charged for some gas, even though I filled it up immediately before the return. Presumably, this is because someone had to drive it back to Buffalo and I was essentially charged for the gas required to do that.
1-Way Car Rental Analysis
Assuming you are able to get a 1-way car rental for ~$65, which is the cheapest I have seen this, I would say you can do the entire trip for much less than $100, including gas and tolls.
|Cost (BUF-YYZ)||Cost (YYZ-BUF)|
|Tolls||$5.25||$0||Assume Queenston Bridge tolls|
|Total (one way)||$87.25||$82||(total of $169.25 for round trip)|
For a round-trip, this could cost you $169.25 = $87.25 + $82 to get from YYZ- BUF.
If you compare this to the analysis where we spent $113.51 for a roundtrip from Fairview Mall to BUF. We are paying $55.74 (which is $169.25 – $113.51) to avoid using your own car. You also have to budget time and costs of getting to YYZ from where you are in the city. The point is that when the one-way car rentals are available at a reasonable price, it might be worth looking at as a legitimate option to taking your own car.
One of the best options for getting to Buffalo airport without driving your own car is to do a 1-way car rental. Often, you can find rental prices that are very reasonable. If you are going to be gone for a very long time, you may even end up being ahead since you wont have to pay to park your own car.
Consider the 1-way car rental when you are traveling out of Buffalo Airport in the future.