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Charter Bus Rental Cost


Charter Bus Rental Cost – Renting A Charter Bus

Charter buses are a reliable, economical, and safe way to meet group transportation needs. Charter bus rental costs, however, are a common concern for people who are renting a bus for a day for the first time. This is understandable considering that the cost of renting a charter bus is not one-price-fits-all. Various factors, including the time of the year, group size, and destination can affect the charter bus rental costs.

If you have been looking for an answer to the question “how much does it cost to charter a bus?”, this guide is for you. We will help you figure out the amount you should expect to pay to use charter buses for rent.

How Much Does Renting A Charter Bus Cost?

The charter bus rental costs are largely affected by how the charter bus company charges for its services. Most companies will charge on a per event, per hour, per mile, and per-day basis. In addition to the pricing methods, other things that can affect how much you pay for the charter buses for rent include extra fees and gratuity. Below, we have examples of the costs to expect when renting a bus for a day:

Per Event

The cost of renting a charter bus can vary depending on the event – different events may have different charter bus rental costs. The examples below should give you an idea of how much you should expect to pay if the charter bus rental cost is on a per-event basis:

  • Corporate events – For corporate events taking place on weekdays, the rental rates usually start at $100/hour.
  • Wedding package – If you are wondering how much does it cost to charter a bus for a wedding event, you should expect 1 luxury liner (carrying 30+ passengers) to cost an average of $1,250 + gratuity. In addition to the 4-hour bus rental, wedding packages may include other luxuries such as champagne glasses, ice, napkins matching the wedding color theme, etc. In most cases, the more luxury amenities you need, the higher the rental cost.
  • Birthday brewery tour – If you intend to rent a charter bus for a birthday brewery tour, 1 luxury liner (30+ passengers) will cost you an average of $995 + gratuity. This is usually a 6-hour evening tour.

Per Hour

Charter bus companies do have hourly rates that don’t vary with event or season. To account for the company overhead, the cost of traveling to the pickup, and paying the driver, some companies may have a minimum number of hours. If you are wondering how much does it cost to charter a bus on a per hour basis, the examples below should give you an idea:

  • Standard charter bus – The standard charter bus rental costs range between $125 and $180 per hour. With a minimum of 4 hours, the minimum rental cost will range between $500 and $720.
  • Executive van – An average of $115 per hour with a four-hour minimum. The minimum rental cost amounts to $460.
  • Limo bus – Starting at $150 per hour with a four-hour minimum. This gives a $600 minimum rental cost.
  • Party bus – An average of $250 per hour with a six-hour minimum. This means that the minimum rental cost is $1,500.

Per Mile

If your team is renting a charter bus for a long-distance trip, you may be charged on a per-mile basis. Below, we have indicated the per-mile price you should expect for a charter bus, minibus, and entertainer bus:

  • Charter bus – $4 to $5.50 per mile
  • Minibus – $4 to $5.50 per mile
  • Entertainer bus – $7 to $8.50 per mile

Per Day

For trips spanning multiple days, some charter bus companies may prefer to charge you on a per-day basis. When charged on a per-day basis, you should expect the average charter bus rental costs to be as follows:

  • Charter bus – $1,300 to $1,700 per day
  • Minibus – $1,200 to $1,500 per day
  • Entertainer bus – $1,900 to $2,500 per day


In addition to being an industry standard, paying gratuity to your driver is a nice gesture. The recommended gratuity amount is 10 to 20% of the total rental cost.

Extra Fees

For some trips, extra charges are necessary – these are often used to take care of excessive mess or damage caused by the travelers inside the charter bus. Some companies will require you to make a damage deposit upfront while others will assess the bus after the trip and then bill you for the necessary cleanup.

Driving damages are usually taken care of by the company’s insurance. However, there are damages you could be charged for, including vomiting inside the charter bus, excessive mess, smoking in the vehicle, and other excessive cleanup activities. Most companies have a starting fee of $250 for excessive damage or mess.

Note: It is possible to minimize the extra fees. All you will need to do is keep the charter bus as clean as possible throughout the entire trip.

Charter Bus Prices: Calculating the Charter Bus Rental Costs

When trying to figure out how much does it cost to charter a bus, knowing how to calculate the rental cost is extremely important. When renting a bus for a day, your rental cost calculations will include adding gratuity and other extra costs to the amount in your quote. To help you understand how to calculate the charter bus rental costs, we will give you a few examples below:

Example #1: Using Charter Buses for Rent to Attend a Corporate Conference

A company based in Boston intends to send its sales team to a 2-day professional development conference in New York. To transport the employees, the company needs a charter bus with at least 55 seats. The driver will also transport the sales team between their hotel and the conference venue each morning and evening.

For their 2-day charter bus rental, the company received a $3,600 quote. The company plans to tip the bus driver 15%.

Assuming that there are no extra costs involved, the total cost will be: $3,600 + (15% x 3600) = $4,140

Example #2: Using Charter Buses for Rent for a Sport Event

A high school football team in San Diego needed a charter bus rental to the playoffs in Los Angeles. With 4 coaches, 17 players, and an extensive amount of luggage and equipment, the team settled for a 50-passenger charter bus rental.

The head coach received a $1,700 quote. The team intended to tip the driver 20%.

Assuming zero extra charges throughout the trip, the total cost will be: $1,700 + (20% x $1,700) = $2,040

Factors Affecting Charter Bus Rental Costs

As noted earlier, several factors affect the amount you will have to pay for charter buses for rent. In this section, we will take a deeper look at all the factors you need to consider when calculating the cost of renting a bus for a day.

Trip Distance and Duration

When trying to determine how much does it cost to charter a bus, 2 of the most important considerations are how long and how far your team will be traveling. Costs for charter buses rented by the day, hour, or mileage, are largely dependent on both the duration and the distance.

If you will be traveling around the city where the charter bus is stationed, you will have to pay on a per hour basis. On average, most bus companies will require a 4 to 5 hours minimum.

Long-distance trips spanning multiple days will be billed by the mileage or by the hour. If your group requires transportation over a number of days, like a conference or multi-day festival, the charter bus company may charge you by the day.

Professional drivers are always willing to accommodate changes to trip details. This means that your driver may be willing to take some unplanned detours. It is worth noting that even if you had already paid for the trip in full, you will be charged for each extra mileage outside the original plan.

The Time of Year

Charter bus rates fall and rise with the season. Buses are booked more in the months when school is in session – this causes the demand to go up while the supply stays low.  When the demand is low, many charter buses go unused – this forces the transportation companies to compete for the available business using lower prices.

Because of proms, graduations, school trips, and more, April, May, and June, are the most expensive months to use charter buses for rent. Because of the winter weather and the end of summer, January, February, and July are the least expensive months to rent a charter bus. Booking your trip at least 3 to 6 months in advance can allow you to enjoy the best prices.

Your Starting City

Some big cities, for example, Boston, do not have many charter bus rental companies as other metropolitan areas. This is because their streets are not suitable for big commercial vehicles.

If you are wondering how much does it cost to charter a bus in a city that does not have many charter buses, you should expect your rental cost to be a little bit higher. This is because a large number of people will be competing for a limited supply of charter buses. When the supply is low and the demand is high, most bus rental companies charge premium prices.

If the charter bus will be picking your team in a different city from the charter bus company headquarters, you should expect the cost of renting a bus for a day to increase. You will have to pay for the additional mileage it takes for the charter bus to travel from the headquarters to the pick-up location in a different city. This rental cost that accumulates while there are no passengers on board is called deadhead.

Route Travel Fees

Some routes feature parking permits, toll roads, and other travel fees. Since some charter bus companies do not include these travel fees in the quote, it is important that you ask whether you will be required to pay parking fees and toll bridges as they occur. If necessary, consider contacting the venues and hotels on your itinerary to get the motor coach parking information.

Driver’s Shifts, Hotel, and Gratuity

After driving for ten consecutive hours, bus drivers have to take an 8-hour break. If your itinerary does require over 10 consecutive hours of driving, the charter bus company will have to provide an additional driver. While a second driver can increase the charter bus rental costs, your team will be much safer with well-rested drivers.

For overnight trips, the majority of charter bus companies will require you to book and pay for the driver’s hotel. You can look for a good hotel featuring great reviews to ensure that the driver gets plenty of sleep. Most hotels will offer free or discounted rooms for drivers if you book the group reservations. Ask the hotel’s booking agent about the hotel policies when you call to make your reservation.

Although gratuity is not included in the quote, tipping the driver is always a good idea. As noted earlier, thanking your driver for doing a good job is both an industry standard and a nice gesture. The recommended tip is 10 to 20% of the total charter bus rental costs. You can bring cash in an envelope to give to the driver at the end of the trip.

Type of Bus

When renting a bus for a day, filling as many seats as possible will allow you to get the best value out of your charter bus. The more seats you manage to fill in the charter bus, the less it will cost per passenger. To give you an example, a group featuring 56 passengers will pay less per individual compared to a group with only 20 passengers if both groups use the same charter bus.

If your group is made up of less than 35 passengers, using a minibus can help you save money. On average, minibusses will cost $100 to $200 less than the standard-sized charter buses. However, since the minibusses lack restrooms and usually have less storage space than the standard motor coaches, they are more ideal for shorter trips.

Although party buses feature the same size as the minibusses, their seats are arranged along the edges. Because of their extra amenities, including premium sound systems, flat-screen TVs, fiber optic lighting, and more, the party bus costs are close to the daily and hourly costs of the standard charter buses.

Entertainer buses, also known as tour buses, are used by celebrities and bands. A typical entertainer bus will hold an average of 8 to 12 passengers and will include satellite TVs, lounge area, bunk beds, master suite, restroom, kitchen, and more. Entertainer buses feature higher rental prices than the standard bus – this is because of their luxury amenities.

School bus rental costs are generally lower than luxury charter costs. However, you will have to sacrifice amenities like DVD players, TV monitors, air conditioning, restrooms, luggage space, and more. In most cases, school buses cannot be used for long-distance trips – this means that standard motor coach buses are usually better suited for interstate transportation.


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