- Location of the car rental agency. Both FLL and MIA have plenty of car agencies that are located at the airport, however, they both have agencies that require a shuttle and are located outside the airport. Typically the places outside the agency are less money. However, my personal preference is all about convenience and I do my best to find a cheap car rental that is at the airport. It usually exists. However, I will say that almost all of the outside agencies are only a couple minutes from the airport. It's just a matter of waiting for the shuttle.
- Beware of small car rental agencies. I'm not saying that you shouldn't use them as you will notice that they often have the best prices. I am saying to read the fine print or perhaps give a call to their office to make sure you know about any additional fees. I have been in situations where an agency requires a specific insurance or charges for things that don't make much sense as other agencies don't charge for them. The better known the brand, the less likely you are to run into this.
- Know about the SunPass (Florida Tolls). If there's ever a time when you say to yourself "that's how they getcha!" is when the car rental agency explains the need for a SunPass and then hits you with an extra $10-$16 daily fee for each day you have the car. First off, this is normal and EVERY agency in south Florida does it. Why? Well you see, Florida is full of highways, all of which have tolls and none of which have toll booths to physically pay cash. They are all pay by Sunpass or plate. For whatever reason, every car agency doesn't just charge you for the tolls you go through, they charge you a daily fee regardless of how often you go through the toll. Now, if you were to stay in the Miami or Ft Lauderdale area and use the tolls all the time, then its worth it. But if you are simply getting a car and going straight to Islamorada where there are no tolls, it's a rip off. There's only a few tolls you go through from the airport to the Keys. If you are only staying in the Keys 2-3 nights, then you might as well just pay the fee. But if you are going down for 5 days or more, I suggest you buy your own travel SunPass at sunpass.com ahead of time. By ordering your own SunPass and creating an account, you can now refuse the SunPass option from the agency and only pay for the tolls you use.
Continue Reading Locals Guide Part Five: Cheap Islamorada Vacation / Things to do.