Car Rental Check In from Home: The Best Way to Start a Trip


I have visited Las Vegas 15 times since 2005, and each time I have rented a car at the airport upon arrival.  Although I drink occasionally, I am always mindful if the car is parked or if I have to drive later, so driving in an altered state doesn’t come into play for me. Side note: conversely, if you are a big drinker, a rental car is likely not a wise option for you. Also, idiots should stay off of the roads and sidewalks, but since idiots don’t read my column, this will not apply to any of you.

I enjoy the freedom of renting a car.

Michael in the convertible

Certainly for the trips with the poker buddies, where we’re always moving from one game to the other, but also for trips with my beautiful bride.  We choose not to have a bankroll sufficient to staring at a slot machine for 60 hours of a 72-hour trip, so having transportation at the valet’s fingertips is always automatic for me.

However, for whatever reason, once I arrive at the McCarran Rent-A-Car Center, I would always schlep over to the company of my reservation and wait in line (or fumble with the kiosk).  Not only was this almost always frustrating, but it was also a waste of valuable Vegas Time.

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When my wife and I went to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl this past February (and what a whirlwind that was) I decided to “check in” with Alamo from home before we left.  Going through the process from my recliner while watching a Vegas film offering (you can never go wrong with a DVD of the Sinatra version of Oceans 11) seemed too good to be true. I mean, it didn’t seem right not to have anyone hassling me for the insurance options.

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When we arrived at the car rental center, even though I had all of the bar coded paperwork with me, I was sure there would be some hassle.  But there was none.  We walked off the shuttle bus, past all of the counters with the poor saps waiting in line, met the attendant that looked at our form and pointed to the correct row of cars. We got a red one (because as we all know, red ones get better parking spots), drove to the checkout booth, then VOILA!  Vegas!

Armed with confidence this time around, I was able to impress my friends. They kept wondering why were walking past the 6-person deep Alamo line.

Because I am a “player” and Vegas knows how to treat their “players”.  That’s why.

[Images: Michael James, Creative Alliance]


(Author’s note – I was in Las Vegas for three-plus days in mid-September.  Although I did write a full hour-by-hour and blow-by-blow trip report on my personal blog, I’ve decided to break it down into easily digestible bits on Vegas Bright.  If you do choose to read my full trip report, I hope that you enjoy it, but please be sure to check back here for more in-depth content from my trip.)

About the Author

Michael James
Michael James is a true Vegas Nerd. First falling in love after hearing details of an aunt's visit in the '70s, and nurtured when the gambling bug hit as casinos started opening on every street corner across the country in the '90s. When not reading Vegas blogs and message boards, he's a metals buyer by day and a competitive bowler by night in Milwaukee.

9 Comments on "Car Rental Check In from Home: The Best Way to Start a Trip"

  1. We ONLY rent cars. I like to dabble off strip esp to eat and do activities in case we don’t want the shuttle to come get us. Only way to go.

  2. For me, it first happened when we honeymooned in Vegas in Oct 2005. We were staying at the Sahara and I couldn’t believe the cab fare estimates. When I checked rental cars, I got one for $8 per day (plus taxes). With the car, we took the obligatory trip to Hoover Dam and a breakfast cruise on Lake Mead.

    I’ve been hooked on the freedom ever since.

  3. Thanks for the heads up Mike. I am going to have to try that on my next Vegas trip. I was unaware you could check in from home prior to arriving. I loathe those long rental car lines and as you say waste valuable Vegas time.

  4. I’m not renting a car for the first time in YEARS when I go in Nov. and it’s almost killing me! The only reason is that I’m getting a limo to and from the airport gratis and I don’t see an easy way to get one / drop off if it’s only going to be rented fri-sun…unless you have suggestions.

  5. Many Las Vegas resorts have a rental car company on premises… check with your hotel (or a neighboring one to compare rates if its not a hella walk).

    In addition, there are off-airport Enterprise locations (including one at the Westin on Flamingo near the Strip) and they offer to pick you up. Always check for promo codes on http://www.retailmenot.com to get a better rate. Some off-airport Enterprise locations in Las Vegas even honor the $9.99/day (plus taxes) weekend rate

    http://www.enterprise.com/car_rental/deeplinkmap.do?bid=002&cust=MSWSRTA&referedPage=multiDivOffer&sisearchengine=403&siclientid=2169&siproduct=OOTtr9mlaCk&mobi=true&arc=OOTtr9mlaCk-T*DcsmBhtYGDjwL%2Fw5Sf8Q&cm_mmc=LinkShare-_-Null-_-Null-_-OOTtr9mlaCk-T*DcsmBhtYGDjwL%2Fw5Sf8Q

  6. We’ve rented a car for our two previous trips and have a car reserved for our third trip in April. There’s just so much to see in the area… Hoover Dam, Valley of Fire, Red Rock, Zion, Death Valley, etc…

  7. I completely get the segment of the LV tourists who don’t want a car because they like to get blotto… and that is great. But for the rest of us, not having a car would be a non-starter.

  8. We started renting about 10 years ago. It has been great. We now spend part of our trip at South Point. We have visited all the major casinos in town along with all the major day trips. Our last few trips we have started driving around looking at neighborhoods to retire to in 5 years. We use to use Alamo but now use Dollar. With their Express you report directly to the garage and off you go. Those inside lines are for amateurs.

  9. Mike. This is fascinating. We were in Las Vegas again 2 weekends ago and stood in the never ending line at Enterprise. We are going again soon (15 times since 2012) and I am going to try this. Thank you so much for the interesting article.

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