If you’re planning a group trip on a bus or motor coach, you’ve probably considered renting a charter bus, and for good reasons. Charter bus rentals are safe, comfortable, and allow everyone in your group to socialize and share time together.

No wonder charter bus services are expected to grow. They offer a wide range of solutions.

Many people start local in their search, and that is usually a good place to begin. But it’s good to shop around and look beyond the charter bus companies that are near you. Many competitive companies have large fleets and serve a wide area. Others may specialize in certain types of transportation (such as large motor coaches) or certain types of trips (such as casinos or airports) that may be just what you’re looking for.

All of which is to say that before you make a commitment, you’ll want to understand your options and how the pricing of charter buses works.

The 3 main cost variables

Charter bus prices can vary greatly depending on a number of factors. The Big 3 are:

  1. Type of vehicle(s)Today’s charter options cover a range of vehicle sizes. Bigger buses such as today’s luxury motor coaches typically offer more amenities – and higher costs. This is due to higher fuel costs as well as higher maintenance costs. Some groups prefer to charter 2 or more vehicles, which also impacts the price. This is why working with a professional trip planner at a charter bus company can be helpful.
  2. The size of the group. This will determine both the size and cost of the rental bus. You’ll need to get a precise estimate of your total headcount before finalizing the vehicle selection.
  3. The length of the trip. Generally, the longer the trip, the more expensive the rental cost. Plus, longer trips usually involve larger vehicles, which also affects cost.

How destinations and the calendar can impact cost

Where you travel to plays a role in pricing as well. Generally, the farther you travel, the higher the cost will be.

When you take a trip can also have an impact on the cost. Peak travel times such as summer and holidays typically have higher rates than off-peak periods. Historically, charter bus rentals are more heavily booked during the school year, with April, May and June being the months associated with heaviest usage and comparatively expensive prices. In addition, the day of the week matters as well. Charter buses typically sell out every weekend and are more available on weekdays. Prices are often higher on Saturdays than they are on Mondays.

Group logistics and additional drivers

Sometimes groups that need to be picked up in different locations will increase the overall cost of your charter.

So will one-way trips. One-ways costs are typically greater than round trip costs because of a “deadhead fee,” which refers to the charter bus company having a stranded vehicle that needs to be brought back to its home location with no one aboard.

And that brings us to your driver. Drivers cost the company money – their wages, lodging, food, and other expenses are all reflected in the cost you pay. Also, drivers can’t work beyond a certain number of hours behind the wheel; a 10-hour shift must be followed by an 8-hour rest period. This is why long distance trips often require two drivers for safety.

Hourly rates vs total miles travelled

Shorter trips are usually are charged by the hour, and you can expect there to be a minimum number of hours to qualify for a charter bus rental. Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $250+ per hour, depending on the size, type, and length of time you charter the bus.

Longer trips – which often means any trip of a day or more – are usually charged by the total miles traveled. Trips involving overnight stays are often billed by the day.

Another important thing to remember is that supply and demand play huge roles in charter bus costs. Where there are competitive companies (as in big cities), you may expect to see more competitive prices, whereas small town prices may seem high by comparison.

The company you keep

The company you rent from will certainly affect the cost of the charter bus. Different companies have different rates and fees. Some offer services that others may not. So it’s important to shop around for the best deal. Also important:

  • Background research. Know the company you’re hiring. Know their history, reputation, and service record for problem solving. Read reviews and remember that large sample sizes of reviews may have some negative reviews but are statistically more legitimate.
  • Safety record. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask about safety training, health practices, maintenance protocols, and other standards a company has for safety. Here’s a safety guide for reference.
  • Keeping it clean. What’s the #1 complaint customers have about a charter bus? You guessed it: Dirty buses or poor equipment. Make sure you ask about cleaning procedures before booking.

If you’re planning a trip or just doing research, please feel free to contact us at Lorenz Bus Service for a no-obligation, no-pressure conversation with one of our professionals.


Heather Morvari

  • Heather is a Lorenz Bus Service Charter Coordinator and an expert in group and luxury travel.
  • She has extensive technical and operational credentials.
  • In the words of one client, “Heather is passionate about connecting with people. As a result, she has exceptional customer service skills.”