Despite having a confirmed reservation, there was no cars available to me when I arrived at the counter. I was referred to a competitor at the next door counter where I ended up paying more, but at least I got a car!
5.9 OkayAug 4 2021
My rental car was not clean on the inside or outside. I’m not as concerned with the outside because I understand that’s harder to control, but I expected the inside to be spotless given the current state of the world. Instead, it was dusty, had sticky spots from a spilled beverage (I’m assuming), & dirt footprints throughout the car, such as on the passenger side (where I have not been sitting, or had a passenger). Additionally, there were no disinfecting wipes in the car for me to use to clean, which I’ve received in other rentals during the pandemic, so I had to use the ones I’d packed myself to clean the inside of the car to my comfort. It felt as if the car had just been dropped off by the previous renter, then handed off to me. I know there is a rental car shortage, & cars are in much higher demand right now as travel resumes, but as a renter I would hope that my safety is the highest priority! Adding this on top of what I paid for this rental car, I will not rent from Alamo again.
2.0 MediocreJun 21 2021
I only had a debit card, no notes were given on needing a actual credit card online ( unless you are flying into SB airport lol) but was told that the down town location would take debit. ( which makes no sense.) Desk person would not help call downtown location to see if they had any vehicles like I had reserved at the airport location. Not willing to help. Poor customer service.
8.0 ExcellentMay 28 2021
The woman who helped me with drop off was incredibly helpful
2.0 MediocreMay 25 2021
They did not have my car available and said they tried to call me, but I never got a call. I needed a 12 person van, so it was not easy to find another one. Thankfully AVIS helped me out at the last minute!
2.0 MediocreDec 7 2020
Vehicle that I reserved was not available when I went go pick up.
10.0 ExcellentNov 28 2020
I liked the small airport with car pick up right outside the terminal. Very convenient, quick, and simple. Would probably choose a slightly larger car than a Toyota Corolla for four adults.
9.6 ExcellentAug 18 2020
Staff was friendly and efficientCar was a little dirty inside.
Tyler at SBA budget was an awesome customer service agent.
10.0 ExcellentMay 17 2022
Seth is an amazing agent. Friendly, professional, kind…really outstanding and memorable.
8.0 ExcellentApr 19 2022
Needed washer fluid and the windows were dirty, otherwise it was a nice, clean car and the staff was great to work with.
8.0 ExcellentApr 17 2022
Customer service was great! Really friendly and helpful. The first car we rented had a low tire pressure light on. We got a replacement quickly and we’re on our way.
8.0 ExcellentMar 30 2022
I liked the car and the superquick and organized drop off.
6.0 GoodNov 22 2021
Pick up was great. Very helpful staff. Drop off was a different story. Expect no parking spots to drop off your rental. Staff didn’t really care about the situation.
2.0 MediocreNov 15 2021
Be careful of the desk agent. Asked if I wanted extended coverage, I stated “no extra insurance is needed” and somehow ended up with a huge added insurance charge. He talked to fast and just pointed where to sign. My statement to him was clear, what does “no extra insurance” mean???
8.0 ExcellentNov 14 2021
The team at John Wayne airport was just awful. Worst drop off experience ever
4.0 OkayOct 31 2021
My flight arrived about 2 hours early. Didn't have my car so had to give me a more expensive car. I get it that inventory comes and goes, but I didn't appreciate the attitude of the check-in desk person. Quite rude.
10.0 ExcellentOct 21 2021
Friendly and professional staff, fast service, no waiting.
This Hertz rental office is not at the airport. The car was rented at an inexpensive price, and we had no trouble with the car. The car had some chips and scuffs, and was not entirely clean. The people at the rental office were friendly, but not super efficient.
2.0 MediocreDec 12 2021
Hertz had no cars available to rent in the price range of my reservation. They wanted to put me on a waiting list for a car to come in before completing my reservation (how many hours?). I asked they upgrade me to an available car but they would not do without making me pay for the upgrade. Slimy bait and switch tactic. Not what you'd expect for a class company
2.0 MediocreDec 7 2021
The women who work here were so rude. Beyond rude. I won’t be back to a hertz location again.
4.0 OkayDec 2 2021
Air conditioner did not work properly which made it uncomfortable.
2.0 MediocreOct 25 2021
The car was not ready when we arrived, the front desk attendant charged us for 2 extra hours because we ended up getting our car slightly earlier than the time that we scheduled. Will not rent from SB Hertz again.
1.9 HorribleOct 12 2021
I reserved a Hertz rental car through Kayak several weeks in advance. On the evening of my reservation, I had to take a Lyft from my hotel to the airport ($30) and when I arrived at the Hertz counter they said “Sorry, no cars left.” No call, no email letting me know and saving me a trip. So I had to take another $30 trip back to the hotel and scramble to find another last minute car reservation. Had an important meeting to get to in the morning. Just an overall very stressful situation. Will book directly with car rental agencies next time and call to confirm car availability before picking it up next time I guess!
1.9 HorribleSep 29 2021
There were no available cars, but the app allow me to book a car and when I got to the counter the guy told me that they even have a waiting list
1.9 HorribleSep 23 2021
The car rental pick-up was closed at 9:00 (when I set the pick-up time through Kayak. This means I needed to spend about $200 in Ubers to get my party to our destinations and to return to the airport the next morning to pick up the car. There was absolutely no number to call for assistance. Why did Kayak allow me to schedule a pick up when the rental agency at the airport was closed?! It was a very frustrating and costly experience. I will book directly with the car rental agency in the future.
1.9 HorribleSep 12 2021
Absolutely horrible service, didn't have cars available, despite reservation. Had to cancel and rebook for more money.
1.9 HorribleAug 9 2021
Hertz was closed when I arrived. I actually never got my car. But was charged for the rental. There were no Uber or Lyft available and paid $350 for a taxi in addition to the car rental to make it to my final destination. I was on hold most of the following morning to try to get in touch with a service agent to no avail. Very disappointed.
The line at the counter was long but the staff moved it quickly. It didn’t have a car that I reserved, so I took a Frontier compact truck. The price was good and the return at a different location in Southern California was easy and painless.
10.0 ExcellentDec 20 2021
I found the lowest price for an SUV on Avis 4 days before the trip using Kayak, the morning of pick up I called to see if I could get a bigger SUV. YES! For only $25.00. More a day! I had an Expedition for 10 days for less than $800.00. I feel I saved $2800.00 Thank you!
10.0 ExcellentNov 24 2021
I was not told there would be a $370 deposit for the car. It is still on my credit card and I’m awaiting the credit.
10.0 ExcellentNov 24 2021
The staff was very friendly in Santa Barbara.
8.0 ExcellentNov 18 2021
Little more explanation of car details/ how to open fill cap, toll road transponder,
5.9 OkayJul 21 2021
Avis did not have the car I reserved when I arrived even though I called them that my plane was arriving an hour late and they assured me they would honor my reservation. It took an hour before they had a car that was within the size range I reserved and were trying to give me a much larger, uneconomical car. I refused it and they finally gave me a suitable replacement. The car I finally ended up with was great... Hopefully, this is all due to pandemic problems because the price was also triple of what I have paid in the past...
4.0 OkayMay 26 2021
The staff at pickup in Santa Barbara used deceitful tactics to pressure us into paying for an upgrade.
4.0 OkayJun 27 2020
Staff Sue gave me a car that needed an oil change and didn’t apply insurance to vehicle. Then when I swopped the cars I needed to make a new contract That didn’t honor the daily rate and cut my trip by 2 daysHonesty and accountability of the staff
8.4 ExcellentJun 24 2019
Friendly and professional staff.The rental car was not in the space on my card. No car was parked in that space. Luckily there was an attendant in the lot who approached me and found my car, and I did not have to return to the terminal.
The staff was fantastic! Did not get his name but he was superior! He had been there a year& he us currently assistant manager! Tall very sociable knowledgeable person! Will try to get his name & send in to you!
10.0 ExcellentApr 2 2022
Fast service, no hassles, good value
10.0 ExcellentDec 16 2021
Everything was easy.
1.9 HorribleJul 26 2021
Booked my car six weeks in advance, and they didn’t have it or anything close for me. I caught the guy in lie after lie. He said he just rented it because i was over an hour late. I was an hour and two minutes because of a delayed flight. So he rented it in two minutes? He said he called and left messages. When I showed him my phone had no calls or messages, he said it just kept ringing. I was upset at his repeated lies, so he asked me to leave.
10.0 ExcellentJul 14 2021
Too expensive for one day
6.0 GoodJun 12 2021
Drop off was eastvehicle could have been cleaner
10.0 ExcellentNov 17 2020
Very helpful staff, pick up and drop-offNothing. Really appreciated the savings offered by using Kayak on the catastrophic coverage!
8.0 ExcellentNov 12 2020
Staff was really friendly and very accommodating. The pick up and drop off was fast and easy
4.0 OkayOct 5 2020
The staff was able to point me in the right direction after they recognized their mistake.
2.0 MediocreSep 5 2020
A refund on the vehicle i never usedYou guys couldve been more prepared with more vehicles
A rental car is the most comfortable and practical way to explore not only the city of Santa Barbara, but also nearby Los Angeles and other major destinations along the Californian coast. A car allows you to explore the city’s attractions at your own pace, including the Santa Barbara Harbor and the Maritime Museum. Los Angeles is a two-hour drive away, while San Francisco is five hours away.
All of the big car rental companies, including Alamo, Avis, and Hertz, can be found at Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (SBA), which is about 7 miles west of the city center. The rental car counters are located in the Rental Car Building, which is right next to the airport terminal. Simply exit the terminal, go right, and follow the RCB signs.
Santa Barbara is at the base of the Santa Ynez Mountains, with some roads being quite hilly. Because it’s a colonial town, it still maintains some of its older characteristics, including narrow cobblestone streets with winding turns. If you’re not used to that type of driving, it’s best to park the car in one of the many lots and explore the Old Town by foot.
Traffic jams in California are a given, but Santa Barbara is easier to navigate. Traffic gets worse in the morning on the 101 heading north to Santa Barbara from other towns such as Carpinteria and Ventura, and on the opposite direction in the evening. Avoid driving within the rush hour periods, between 6:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., and then again between 4 and 7 p.m.
25% of our users found rental cars in Santa Barbara for $64 or less
Book your rental car in Santa Barbara at least 7 days before your trip in order to get a below-average price
Standard rental cars in Santa Barbara are around 31% cheaper than other car types, on average
FAQs about renting a car in Santa Barbara
Some car rental companies in Santa Barbara which have updated their car rental health and safety policies due to COVID-19 to make sure vehicles are clean and disinfected include Budget, Hertz and Dollar
On average a rental car in Santa Barbara costs $77 per day.
Based on ratings and reviews from real users on KAYAK, the best car rental companies in Santa Barbara are Enterprise (8.4, 124 reviews), Alamo (8.4, 68 reviews), and Dollar (8.1, 90 reviews).
The average gas price in Santa Barbara is $4.65 per gallon over the past 30 days. Filling up a gas tank costs between $56 and $74, depending on the car size.
Standard (Hyundai Elantra or similar) is the most frequently booked rental car type in Santa Barbara.
A Standard car rental in Santa Barbara costs $53 per day, on average.
A Economy car rental in Santa Barbara costs $51 per day, on average.
A Intermediate car rental in Santa Barbara costs $52 per day, on average.
On average a rental car in Santa Barbara costs $539 per week ($77 per day).
On average a rental car in Santa Barbara costs $2,311 per month ($77 per day).
A hybrid car is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint while driving through Santa Barbara, but a convertible is a great option when cruising along the coast, especially in the summer, as you can drop the top and enjoy some scenic views. If you're going on a road trip with family or friends, a minivan offers more comfort and space for all the passengers.
The speed limit in Californian cities is usually 25 mph, unless the posted signs say otherwise, particularly in school zones and other residential areas. Two-lane highways have a speed limit of 55 mph, while most highways have a 65 mph limit. However, some highways allow drivers to go a maximum speed of 70 mph.
There are several parking lots in the downtown and waterfront areas. Downtown parking also provides access to State Street and its surroundings, the Old Town, and the Waterfront areas. Parking is paid between 7:30 a.m. and 11 p.m., Sunday to Thursday, and 7:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The first 75 minutes are free and the following hours have a $1.50 hourly rate.
Finding the right price, understanding the add-ons and staying up to date with policy changes can be a challenge. That’s why KAYAK has produced the ultimate guide to renting a car to help you cut though the jargon and make the right choice for your rental car. Find tips and insights for how to book your rental, what car rental insurance you’ll need, how to deal with a car rental agency and what extra fees to expect (and avoid!).