Are you thinking about renting a limousine for a special occasion? Perhaps you're getting married soon. Or maybe you just want to go somewhere in style and not worry about driving. We've provided this handy FAQ guide from the National Limousine Association and some great tips on what you can expect in terms of COST and POLICIES when renting a limousine.
Licenses & Associations
Every limo service should be licensed to legally operate. These licenses are issued by the cities and states where they operate. In order to receive and maintain a license, the DMV requires all limo services to have comercal liability insurance that covers passengers. Make sure the limo service you choose is licensed and registered before you sign any contracts.
Reputable licensed limousine companies require criminal background checks on prospective employees. Chauffeurs should have a clean driving record and be free of any criminal history. Lastly, chauffeurs should be suited to your expectations. Ask how the driver will be dressed and let the limo company know your expectations right away.
What size limousines are there?
Generally, there are 3 types of limousines.
1) Luxury sedans - Usually standard Lincoln Town Cars or Cadillacs
2) 10-passenger super stretch limousines - fits 1-10 people, depending on design.
3) 12-18 passenger super stretch limousines and stretch specialty vehicles (SUV's) - these limousines
rent at a premium due to limited availability, where SUV's would normally cost more than a standard
Generally speaking, if you are renting a 10-passenger limousine, the vehicle seating can accommodate 10-people of smaller or average size tightly depending on how the vehicle interior was designed. Please be advised that most vehicles cannot accommodate 10 larger people. You may want to seek a larger vehicle in such cases. You might consider subtracting 1-2 from the vehicle rating for average sized people for maximum comfort.
Research the fleet size of your prospective limo company. Though the number of cars isn’t a direct reflection of the quality of the company, this will give you some insight into the company and may help you determine the best company for your specific needs. For instance, small companies generally offer personalized service and heavily focus on one type of service like airport pickups. Medium-sized limo companies may have a variety of vehicles and do everything from airport transfers to proms. While larger limo companies have the capacity to handle corporate accounts and have a wide variety of vehicles ranging from Town Cars and stretch limousines to charter buses.
If you have questions, ask to see the limousine you will be using during your special event. A reputable limousine service is proud of their fleet and wants to show it off to you.
How much does it cost to rent a limousine?
Limousine rentals run in the neighborhood of $75 - $300 per hour (SUV's) with a MINIMUM of two or three hours booked. Most companies require a minimum of 2 or 3 hours to provide service.
Generally speaking, renting a limousine can be compared to renting a hotel room. There is a large span of quality and service levels to choose from, and the difference in price is usually determined by what you get or don't get. You will usually find that "you get what you pay for" and special attention should be paid to what you don’t get since the limousine industry in many states is lightly regulated.
What is included with limousine service?
It is very important to ask about the 'all-inclusive price' when reserving a limousine. Unfortunately, some companies are unscrupulous in their billing methods and will tack on extra charges such as non-existent highway taxes, fuel surcharges, beverages, waiting time, travel times, dirt or gravel road fees, tolls, and other miscellaneous charges. While such cases are rare, it is a good idea to get the all-inclusive price, which should include the TOTAL FARE. (Usually does not include sales tax) This is especially important when renting a limousine for a third party such as a wedding couple or younger kids celebrating prom or homecoming.
Why can’t I find a limousine for only an hour rental?
Most companies require a minimum 2 or 3 hour booking to rent the vehicle. This is due to the large expense and cost involved in securing and maintaining the vehicles. The average limousine can run around $70,000-$110,000 new! A one-hour rental is simply not cost effective because the vehicle is only in 'paid-service' for one hour; however actual vehicle run time may be more than 2 hours. Other costs that make a 1-hour rental not possible is vehicle preparation time and driver salary.
In addition, during prom or other high demand season, minimum hourly booking requirements may increase to 5-8 hours due to the overwhelming demand for limousines. You are more likely to get struck by lightning than getting a limousine rental for 1 or 2 hours during prom or special event season. Some companies may offer special exceptions to this rule depending on fleet availability and their current scheduling considerations.
Do I have to tip the chauffeur and if so, how much?
YES! Your driver is working in the service industry just like a waiter or bartender, but assumes a much more responsible role. The standard tip is 20% of the total fare. If you feel your driver has performed in an exceeding manner, you can tip more. Some companies will AUTOMATICALLY include the gratuity (tip) in their total price quote. When making reservations, always ask if GRATUITY is included in the total price. If not, you should budget an extra twenty percent towards your total bill for driver gratuity.
Can I drink alcohol in the limousine?
Typically “yes” if it is legal in your area. The laws vary from state to state so ask when you book the limousine. Underage drinking in a limousine is ILLEGAL, no matter what state you live in and a reputable company WILL NOT allow it, so you risk losing your charter total and being arrested if you violate the law.
We want to rent a limousine to take us to a concert. Do we have to pay for time while we are at the concert even though we are not using the limousine?
In such cases where you are not occupying the limousine during your rental (such as bar-hopping, dinner reservations, concerts, sporting events, etc.) you still have to pay for the rental time, even though you aren't physically inside the vehicle. Even though you are not using the vehicle while at a concert, the vehicle cannot be used elsewhere; even when there are 1 or 2 hours in between drop-off and pickup.
In addition, if there are more than 4-6 hours between drop-off and pick-up and you remain local, some companies may offer a "split" - just a rental to-and-from your destination with no charge for waiting time in between, however this option offers inconveniences such as unavailability to leave things in the limo, leaving earlier than expected, or having the same chauffeur or car upon return. Ask your service provider if they offer a package to accommodate your needs.
If I rent a limousine, when do my rental charges start?
This varies by company and location. Most companies begin rental charges at your designated pickup time location. If you say, "Our first pickup is at 6pm at 123 Main St', then this will be the beginning of your rental charge. Some companies begin rental charges on portal-to-portal basis and charge 'travel-time'.
Specifically, your rental time may begin the moment the limousine begins its journey to your first pickup location. Ask your limousine company specifically how they charge as this might explain price differences. Charges for travel time is usual in remote areas where the closest limousine service may be 10 or more miles away.
Wedding and prom rental tips.
Wedding and prom rates are usually quoted at a 'package' price. For Instance, "Our 3 hour wedding package is $425 and includes our ten-passenger limousine". Ask your limousine company what comes included in the package price. ALL or SOME of the following may be included in the price:
* Standard chauffeur gratuity
* Non-alcoholic beverages
* Red carpet rolled out
* Glassware in limousine
* "Just Married" sign
* Professionally attired chauffeur
* Limo decorations and napkins
* Any other amenities included?
Since a limousine on your wedding day is going to be seen by your entire circle of family and friends and recorded forever in the picture books, make absolutely sure that you know what you are getting. This is not the time to find the cheapest price!