Madison is the capital of Wisconsin and is a great starting point if you’re planning to explore the state.
You’ll likely be flying into the Madison Dane County Regional Airport when you arrive, which is conveniently just a 12-minute drive from Madison city center.
There are a variety of airlines that fly to this airport from popular cities all across the United States. While at the airport, you’re best off renting a car to explore Madison and its surrounding area or larger cities in Wisconsin.
Although the city is easily explored by public transport, there are endless day trip opportunities from Wisconsin’s capital. In fact, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Rockford are all within a 2-hour drive.
Other popular spots within driving distance from Madison include Devil’s Lake State Park and Pendarvis State Historic Site. Here are our top picks for car rental companies at the Madison Airport to help you get around.
Enterprise is one of the most recognized car rental companies in the world. They offer six pickup locations within and near Madison, including Dane County Regional Airport, American Pkwy, and Odana Road.
If you’re flying into Madison, the pick-up point within the airport is inside the Ground Transportation Building. It’s a short walk from baggage claim.
What’s great about Enterprise is that an additional driver of the same age and license requirements is included at no extra charge. Many of the vehicles can also be driven across state borders in case you’re looking to drive into Illinois or Iowa.
To rent a vehicle with Enterprise, you need to be 21 or older, and if you’re under 25, then you’ll need to pay a young driver’s surcharge.
There are a variety of vehicles to choose from, especially if you’re after a high-class car. The brand is known for offering rental cars that are clean and for the Enterprise Plus® loyalty program which comes with lots of added features.
2. National Car
The National Car pick-up location is found at the Madison Dane County Regional Airport and seven other spots in Wisconsin.
Like Enterprise, an additional driver is included with no extra fees. The company has the same age requirements too. National Car offers the Emerald Club Loyalty Program which focuses on quick and efficient rentals. You’ll get to bypass the counter and earn free rental days too.
To help make the process even smoother, you can download the National Car Rental App. You won’t be short of rental options with this company, as they have luxury cars like the Chrysler 300. There’s also the option of premium SUVs, such as a Chevy Suburban that seats up to 8 people.
Of course, if you’re after more budget-friendly cars there are several of those too. You can drop off the car at any time since they accept after-hour returns.
Hertz is another hugely popular car rental company known for its great prices, variety of vehicles, and Gold Plus Rewards Loyalty System. The rental company offers a best-price guarantee, no credit card fee, and a flexible cancellation policy.
Hertz has two other pickup locations apart from the airport, with locales on the east side, Odana HLE, and Wisconsin Aviation with the latter for Gold Customers on private flights only.
You’ll find everything from compact to economy cars. The brand has quite a strong reputation in Madison, known for being easy to book and providing clean vehicles.
If you’re looking for a luxurious vehicle, then Hertz has a lot to offer. They feature luxury SUVs, sedans, and convertibles. The cars available will differ depending on the location, so you may want to check that in advance.
Budget is one of the cheaper options and has stores in downtown Madison. If you opt for the airport pick-up location, the company often has several deals including free upgrades and 10% off rentals.
Budget is typically known for its great value rentals. They have plenty of low-cost options, but they also have luxury vehicles too. This includes the likes of Genesis G80E, Ford Mustang Convertibles, and Teslas.
Like with any rental company, the cars vary based on the current time and date. Anyone that’s 21 or over can book with them. They have a pretty good reputation and reviews with Kayak and Google alike.
You can have up to two additional drivers per rental, but there’s a small daily fee for this. If you’re coming with a large family, they have SUVs and large vans. If you plan on staying here for a long time, there are also long-term car rental options that are cost-effective.
The Avis rental counter is located in the baggage claim area of the airport so you can’t miss it. There’s also Avis Preferred, a complimentary membership where you can skip counter queues so you can just head straight to the vehicle rental.
A key thing to note with this company is that if you’re between 21-24, you won’t be allowed to book a luxury vehicle. They have quite a few more reviews than many of the other companies, mentioning a fast process but others mentioning problems with the cleanliness of the cars.
If you’re over 25, there are a couple of categories you’ll want to prioritize if you’re after a fancy car. This includes Luxury, Premium SUV, Signature Series, and Luxury Elite. After hour returns are allowed.
Alamo has good reviews on Google mentioning its good customer service and fast pick-up. There’s a self-service kiosk that allows travelers to skip the counter queues. You can check in at this kiosk, and then head straight to your rental car. All you need to do is simply show your documents to the employee at the Exit Booth.
Just like the other options, adding a driver doesn’t cost a thing. However, if you want add another one after that, there is a small fee.
While Alamo doesn’t have many luxury cars, their lower-cost options make it a good choice for those on a budget or looking to score a good deal. While they may not have a strong rewards program like the others, the prices make up for it.
FAQ Renting Cars At Madison Airport
Do I need to rent a car to get around Madison?
It’s relatively easy to get around Madison thanks to its efficient public transport system. As such, you won’t always need to hire a car to move around the city. But if you’re only staying for a bit or want to make it easy for yourself, it’s worth renting one. Madison is a big city, so you won’t be able to visit every place you want to see if you’re just walking or relying on public transportation. Uber and Lyft are always an option but can get expensive at night.
Madison is also in a fantastic spot for day trips, with big cities like Chicago and Milwaukee close by. If you’re looking to get out of the city and explore more of the state, then you’ll certainly need to rent a car.
Do I need rental car insurance in Madison?
You will need rental car insurance in Madison, but typically, the rental companies in the state of Wisconsin cover this. The companies need to meet the minimum state-required insurance.
The amount differs for property damage liability coverage. No matter which company you choose, it’s always best to read the fine print when it comes to insurance. Depending on your existing car insurance you may be covered already. Talk to your policyholder and ask them if you need any additional coverage for rental cars.