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The Ultimate Guide to Renting a Charter Bus

A Checklist for Getting the Most Out of Your Charter Bus Rental

When it comes to group travel, there’s nothing that offers all the benefits you get with a charter bus. From the flexibility of a charter bus—you can go just about anywhere and see just about anything—to the matchless reliability of a charter coach, where cancellations and delays are virtually unknown, a charter bus allows you to travel in comfort and luxury. It’s hands-down the safest way to travel—your drivers are highly trained professionals and the limited access to the bus means you won’t have any unwanted guests. With the extensive fleet available through, you can choose the coach that’s the right size and offers the amenities you need. And it’s nice on your wallet, too. Bus travel is consistently ranked as one of the most affordable ways to travel.

Whether you’ve never traveled by charter bus or you’re a seasoned pro, the best way to ensure that you get the best service and have the best experience is to know what you need and what you can expect and to systematically confirm that everything’s handled. That’s why we’ve prepared this checklist to help you have the ultimate charter bus rental.


Item #1—Determine Where and What You Want to Do

Before you make the first call or submit the first online quote request, you want to have a pretty good idea of where you want to go and what you want to do. With a charter bus, you have much greater flexibility than other modes of travel. There’s no reason you can’t dream big—we’ll always be candid with you if your plans are not doable, or will be potentially cost-prohibitive. The more detailed your plans are when you contact a charter bus service provider, the easier it will be to find the right coach at the right price.

Item #2—Choose the Right Service Provider

There are many companies offering charter bus services to the public. Determining which one is best for your needs requires time, patience and diligence. It’s a good idea to research at least three and as many as five service providers, so that you have options. Here are some of the fundamental questions you want answered:

  • What is your safety record? Ask about accident or injury statistics, as well as how the company is rated by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • What type of safety and training programs do you have for your drivers? Is there ongoing monitoring and training? Does the company conduct drug testing?
  • Do you have all the appropriate licenses? Are you licensed in the locations where the group will travel? Do your drivers have all proper licenses? Do you have a state-issued certificate of authority to offer charter bus services (there should be a sticker somewhere on the bus)?
  • What coaches do you have in your fleet? Is there a bus that’s the ideal size for your group? What are the on-board amenities, such as restroom, Wifi, sound system and electronics ports?
  • Can you provide a couple references? Ask for contact information for groups that have previously used the charter bus service. Be willing to call those contacts and learn about their experiences.
  • Where can I see some of your coaches? It’s always a good idea to actually board a coach or two before you think about booking one. This can tell you a lot about how well taken-care-of the buses are, and whether the company is a legitimate operation.

Item #3—Get the Best Price for Your Trip

Though there are a wide range of factors that will have an impact on the final cost of your trip—where you are going, how long you’ll be gone, what type of coach you need, what amenities you’ll have and what additional fees you’ll be responsible for, there are some specific strategies you can employ to get the best price:

  • Consider when you want to travel—You may pay substantially more…or less, depending on what time of year you want to travel. Most charter bus companies are busiest in the late spring and summer, when there are weddings, graduations, reunions and good weather. Consequently, if you want to book a charter bus between April and the end of August, you can expect to pay more. Conversely, particularly in northern climates, demand for charter buses is down in the dead of winter. A charter bus rental in January or February might be a real bargain.
  • Reserve your coach as early as possible—It’s the law of supply and demand—when you book earlier, there are more buses available, so the price is typically less.
  • Be willing to bring a smaller group—The more empty seats you have on your coach, the less cost-effective a charter bus will be. You’ll probably be better off turning down a few people than booking a coach that’s too big and has a bunch of vacant seats.
  • Get a free room for your driver—If your trip goes overnight and you stay somewhere, you’ll have to factor the costs of a room for your driver, too. Call your hotel and see if they will comp or discount a room for your driver.
  • Minimize parking costs, if possible—Don’t get stuck paying exorbitant fees to park the bus. Check with your hotel, as well as any venues you’ll visit, to see where the nearest free parking might be.

A word to the wise when looking at the potential price of your trip—if there’s a vendor whose price is significantly below all other service providers, proceed with caution. It may be an indication that the service provider is cutting corners, not performing routine or necessary maintenance, or may not have proper insurance on the coach. It’s always worth it to spend a little more money to ensure the safety of your group.

Item #4—Understand the Process

It’s not difficult to rent a charter bus, but you want to be certain you understand the process, so you know what to expect.

  • Request a quote—It’s a good idea to ask for a quote from a number of companies, particularly if they have all provided acceptable responses to your questions. With, you can request a quote online or you can call one of our experienced representatives.
  • Sign a contract—Once you’ve decided which service provider to use, and have agreed on the terms, you’ll be asked (and you will want) to sign a contract. If the company won’t enter into a written contract, don’t do business with them—they are probably not authorized to offer charter bus services in your state.

Make certain you review the contract carefully to confirm that it’s consistent with your expectations. The contract should include the name of the bus company, the name of your group/organization, the specific date of the trip, the maximum number of passengers carried, the expected itinerary, and the total costs. It’s also important to get contact information for the bus company.

As a general rule, you’ll be asked to submit a down payment when you sign the contract. In most instances, this down payment is refundable up to a specific date. Make certain you get a copy of the contract.

  • Ask for written confirmation that your bus or buses are reserved.
  • Make final payment—Most companies will require that the costs of the trip be paid in full before the coaches are scheduled to depart. That may be as much as 30 days prior to departure. Don’t work with a company that only accepts cash. If it’s a legitimate operation, you’ll be able to use credit cards or pay by check. Make certain that you get a copy of a receipt when you make any payment, whether a down payment or final payment.
  • Receive trip itinerary and driver details—Some companies will send a tentative itinerary with the confirmation that your bus has been reserved. Others may wait to send the itinerary and driver information a couple days before you leave.

Item #5—Be a Good Passenger

Your charter bus company will work hard to ensure that everything goes smoothly and that any unanticipated contingencies are effectively handled. You can significantly minimize the likelihood of difficulty by working with the driver and others to address any issues. In addition, by respecting the rules on the bus, including safety guidelines, you’ll help make your trip the best it can be.

Book a Charter Bus from Today

The largest charter bus broker in the nation, US Coachways has been an industry leader and innovator for more than 30 years, providing quality coaches to more than 35,000 events every year. To learn more about your options or to get a quote, call 1-888-502-3458 to talk to one of our experienced agents.

The Ultimate Guide to Renting a Charter Bus