How to Rent a Car at Seattle Airport

Seattle Travel Guide › Airport Rental Cars
Updated: September 21, 2022

See Also

Where to Stay in Seattle
Best Seattle Hotels
Best Seattle Family Hotels
Best Hotels near SeaTac Airport

Rental car facility at SeaTac Airport.

All rental cars at the Seattle Airport are picked up and returned at the Rental Car Facility, one mile and a 5-minute ride from the airport terminal on the free shuttle bus. It’s a great facility and super easy to access and exit.

Seattle Airport Car Rental

My recommendation: If you need a car for getting around the Seattle area then best to reserve a vehicle in advance at the Seattle airport. If your trip is limited to the downtown area, it’s easy to get around by a mix of walking, public transport, and Uber making a rental car unnecessary.

Tip: If you need a minivan for families of 5 or more then definitely book in advance.

Updates: As of May 13, 2022, the airport is advising passengers that the airport parking garage is likely to be extra busy and parking spots hard to find. This doesn’t directly affect rental car users. Face masks are currently optional at SEA airport. The Twitter account for SEA airport is updated regularly and a good place to ask questions.

Rental cars at Seattle Airport: AlamoAvisBudgetDollarEnterpriseHertz • NationalPaylessThrifty

Shuttle bus stops at the Seattle Airport.

How to rent a car at the Seattle Airport: 1. Reserve a car in advance. 2. Arrive at airport and follow signs to Rental Cars. 3. Take free shuttle to rental car facility (about five minutes). 4. Pick up car from the parking garage and drive out of the facility.

Free rental car shuttle at SeaTac Airport.

The free shuttle bus from Seattle Airport to the Car Rental Facility where all airport car rentals are picked up and dropped off. There are two pick up points at the airport: North and South shuttle bus stops.

Seattle Car Rental – Airport & Downtown

Do I need a rental car in Seattle?
Unless you’re planning day trips outside of the city, you don’t need a car to experience most of Seattle’s highlights. Central Seattle contains many of the city’s top attractions and downtown is compact and walkable. There is a good bus and streetcar system, and light-rail routes that connect downtown to the airport and outer neighborhoods. Uber and Lyft drivers are readily available and while they can seem expensive for longer trips it’s still usually cheaper than a daily rental car fee.

What is the best way to rent a car in Seattle?
RentalCars.com is the best site for booking rental cars at the Seattle airport. The site searches the top rental car companies and returns the cheapest prices for all available vehicles. You can reserve cars in advance for either the Seattle International Airport or downtown Seattle. Within downtown Seattle National, Budget, Alamo, Avis, Hertz, and Enterprise have convenient locations within walking distance of Pike Place Market and the Washington State Convention Center.

How do I get to the rental car facility from the airport terminal?
SeaTac Airport has two passenger pick-up areas. Both are located on the baggage claim level. One at the north end (near Alaska Airlines) and another on the south end (near the international airlines). Shuttles take passengers and their luggage on a five-minute drive to the rental car facility.

How do I get to the airport terminal from the rental car facility?
Shuttles pick up passengers and their luggage at the rental car facility, directly outside of the building from the customer service counters. There is a shuttle for the North terminal and a separate shuttle for the South terminal, each with its own bus stop. It’s a 5-minute drive from the rental car facility to the airport terminal.

How do I get wheelchair service for getting on or off the rental car shuttle?
Tell the driver of the shuttle that you need wheelchair service. All shuttles are equipped with a ramp and wheelchair securements. Each bus is equipped to transport 1 wheelchair passenger per trip.

Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle.

What is the best place to rent a car in downtown Seattle?
National (close to Pike Place Market), Budget (in Belltown, close to Amazon), Hertz (close to the convention center), and AVIS (close to Seattle Center) are the most convenient.

If I don’t have a rental car what is the best way to get from the airport to downtown Seattle?
There is a light-rail route that runs directly from the airport to downtown. There are also many taxis, airport limousines, Ubers, and Lyft cars at the airport’s Ground Transportation area. You access both light-rail and ground transportation by taking the pedestrian skybridge from the terminal to the parking garage, follow signs from there.

What Seattle hotels have free parking?
I know of no hotels in central Seattle that have free parking. Several Seattle airport hotels do have free parking.

What is the best place to stay in downtown Seattle if you don’t have a car?
The Inn at the Market, Four Seasons, and Mayflower Park hotels are some of the many downtown Seattle hotels with convenient central locations.

Is it easier to rent a car at the Seattle Airport or downtown?
It is much easier to pick up and return a car at the Seattle Airport than in downtown Seattle. The airport has cheaper prices, greater variety of vehicles, less traffic, and more spacious parking garages. It also has multiple rental car companies within steps of each other. If for some reason your reservation is not fulfilled properly a different company will very likely be able to provide the vehicle you need.

Can a rental car be taken on a Puget Sound ferry?
Yes, although it does require a different ticket and (often) longer wait times. Getting around the Puget Sound and Northwest Washington with a mix of driving and ferries is easy, fun, and highly recommended.

Seattle Area Car Rental – Quick Links

Seattle Airport Rental Car Facility.

All airport car rental pick ups and returns are done at the SeaTac Rental Center Facility. It’s a 5-minute drive from the airport and there’s a free shuttle bus that runs continuously between the terminal and the rental car facility, 24-hours a day. Reserve vehicles in advance at RentalCars.com.

Rental car companies in SeaTac Terminal.

There are no rental car desks or kiosks in the main terminal of the Seattle Airport. You have to take the free shuttle bus to the Rental Car Facility to pick up your rental vehicle.

Shuttle bus to rental cars at SeaTac Airport.

The shuttle bus to the rental car facility leaves just outside on the baggage claim level of the terminal. There are separate buses and stops for the North and South terminals.

Rental car shuttle bus.

The shuttle bus is free and runs 24 hours a day. There is plenty of room for all luggage. The ride takes about 5-minutes.

Shuttle bus from rental car facility to SeaTac International Airport.

The bus does a continuous loop between the airport and the rental car facility, so you never have to wait more than about 10 minutes for the next bus. During the day wait times are shorter.

Rental cars at SeaTac Airport.

If you’ve booked in advance with RentalCars.com you’ll check-in with your rental car company, get your keys, and then go down one-level to pick up your car.

Rental car kiosks at SeaTac.

The following car companies have kiosks at the SeaTac Rental Car Facility: Sixt, Payless, E-Z, Thrifty, Hertz, Alamo, Enterprise, National, Budget, AVIS, Fox, and Dollar.

Variety of cars at SeaTac Airport.

The rental car facility has a large variety of cars available, from budget sedans to family-friendly mini-vans and 4WD SUVs.

Returning at the Airport Rental Car Facility is easy.

Dropping off at the Airport Rental Car Facility is easy. Follow signs to Terminal.

Rental car returns at SeaTac airport.

After dropping-off your rental car follow the signs for the airport bus which leaves from upstairs in the rental car facility. There are separate buses and stops for the North and South terminal (depending on which airline you’re flying).

Rental car shuttle bus at SeaTac.

The free shuttle bus takes passengers to the airport terminal. The North shuttle bus is best for Alaska, American, Southwest, Spirit, and Sun Country airlines. The South shuttle bus is best for AMC, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, United, and all international airlines.

Shuttle bus at Seattle Airport.

The shuttle bus stops directly in front of the airport terminal.

Map of SeaTac Rental Car Facility.

Map of SeaTac Rental Car Facility. The Port of Seattle puts out an excellent Rental Car Facility Brochure (from which this was taken).

Map of SeaTac shuttle bus locations.

Map of SeaTac shuttle bus locations at the terminal.

Shopping, arts, and hotels in Bellevue.

A rental car is handy if you expect to frequently travel between Seattle and Bellevue. If you’re largely staying put near the shopping, dining, and arts of downtown Bellevue then the Westin Bellevue is superb and a rental car is unnecessary.

Victoria Clipper from Seattle.

The Victoria Clipper Ferry is best way to get from Seattle to Victoria. It departs from just north of downtown and does not allow cars.

Washington State Ferries for Rental Cars.

Washington State Ferries do allow cars. Some routes allow you to reserve space in advance, which is recommended.

I-5 freeway from SeaTac airport to Seattle.

The I-5 freeway is the main artery between Seattle, the airport, Tacoma, and Olympia. Several exits enter downtown Seattle.

Uber and Lyft in Seattle.

Ridesharing services such as Lyft and Uber have designated pick up spots throughout Seattle making pick up and drop off easy and convenient.

Best place to stay in Seattle without car.

The fantastic Inn at the Market is the only hotel located within Pike Place Market.

Seattle Shopping With and Without a Car

Best shopping in Seattle without a car.

Downtown Seattle has a good variety of shopping, but my favorite place to shop is at University Village about a 15 minute drive north of downtown. It’s a pedestrian-friendly open-air mall with high-end boutiques and chains like Allbirds, Banana Republic, Bonobos, Crate & Barrel, lululemon, Peleton, Room & Board, Tesla, Warby Parker, Williams Sonoma, and the Apple Store. Getting to University Village by public transportation is possible but a little awkward. Uber or Lyft are probably best if you don’t have a rental car.

Pike Place Market with cars in Seattle.

Pike Place Market is located in downtown Seattle. Having a rental car is unnecessary to visit the market if you’re staying at a nearby hotel.

Seattle waterfront.

The Seattle waterfront has the Great Wheel and Seattle Aquarium as well as restaurants and touristy shops. If you’re staying at a downtown hotel it’s a short walk to the waterfront and a rental car is not needed. There are also a few hotels on the waterfront.

Downtown Seattle shopping without a car.

There is good shopping in the downtown core of Seattle. If you’re staying at a downtown Seattle hotel, a Belltown hotel, or a Pioneer Square hotel it’s a short walk to the shopping area and a rental car is not needed.

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