Great Rental Car Deal
flickr image by Mic V.

Insider Tips to Getting a Great Rental Car Deal


Many times when you travel it just makes more sense to have your own car. It’s cheaper than traveling by cab everywhere and more convenient than relying on public transportation. Of course, getting a good deal can allow you to spend extra money elsewhere on your vacation. Renting a car doesn’t always seem budget-friendly, but there are lots of ways to get discounted rates.

Look at Rates until the Day Before You Leave

Rental car rates can fluctuate widely. They can change based on day and demand. Since you don’t usually need to pay for your car until you pick it up there’s no penalty for cancelling and rebooking any time before you show up at the rental desk. Keep checking rates up until the day before you leave to see if the prices have dropped on a suitable car at our destination. 

Book the Smallest Car Possible

Bigger cars use more gas, and more gas means more money. Unless you’re going to spend an extraordinary amount of time in the car on your trip, look to rent the smallest size possible. You’ll spend less to fill up and it’ll be easier to find a parking space. If you show up at the rental company and the class of car you have reserved is not available, you will be given the next upgrade available. You can always go bigger, but you won’t be able to go smaller once you get there, so it’s better to reserve too small than too big. 

Weekly Rates vs Daily Rates

Rental companies like to reward longer renters by giving them a bit of a discount. Rarely do you get charged for bringing a car back early, so if you find that the weekly rate is cheaper than paying for 5-6 days, book a whole week. Just make sure you read the fine print to make sure there’s no early return penalty. 

Use Promo Codes

If you search the web long enough, you can find promo and coupon codes for nearly anything. Take a few minutes to look for codes you can use on your reservation to save a few dollars, because every little bit counts. 

Check All Rental Locations

Rental companies on airport property are subjected to airport fees, which in turn are passed on to the customer. Sometimes the fees are significant and sometimes they are barely noticeable, but they exist. Check nearby rental location rates against those at the airport to see if the savings are large enough to offset the inconvenience of having to go off-property to pick up your car. 

Skip the Prepaid Gas Option

It’s so convenient, right? Pass the gas station and just turn up at the rental company with whatever’s left in the tank. The prepaid gas option is almost always two to three times as much as the gas prices down the street, plus, no matter how full the tank is when returned, you get charged the price to fill up an empty gas tank. Make note of the nearest gas station when you leave the rental car company and hit it on the way back when returning. 

Use Your Own Insurance

If you have a car at home, you have insurance. The majority of insurance will cover you in any car you drive. Don’t spend unnecessary money on insurance you don’t need. It jacks up the price of your rental rate and is free money for them. Bring your insurance info with you – some companies ask for it, though some don’t – and tick that box saying you rejected their extra coverage. 

Sign Up for the Rental Program

If you can get a bigger discount or free rental day, why wouldn’t you do it? Take a few minutes to sign up for the rental programs of your favorite companies and you’ll gain points each time you rent, good toward free or discounted future rentals, and receive emails with exclusive rental deals. Double dip by also putting in your frequent flyer number on your reservation and earn miles, too. 

Put It on Your Credit Card

When you pick up your car, make sure to put it on your credit card instead of your debit card. You generally won’t have to put that $300 hold on your card until you return the car, which you probably want to use during your trip.Most credit card companies also give users extra insurance coverage. That gives you yet another reason to skip the rental insurance. 

Rent For Just a Few Days

Will you just be going on a few trips during your vacation where you need a car? If so, why not plan those outings close together and rent a car for just that time instead of your entire vacation? There’s no need to spend money to have a car for a week or more if you only need it for two or three days, so you could save hundreds. 

Bring Your Own GPS

If you’re rolling around in your own country and have a GPS that you personally use, then take a little space in your carry-on to bring it with you. The GPS from the rental company can run you $15 or more per day. That adds up fast. Your own GPS is free, and will cost a lot less to replace if it happens to get stolen. 

Search Foreign Sites

Going on a trip outside your country? Check your destination’s local rental websites. You may find that the rates are significantly cheaper. You might need to translate the web page to learn what exactly your rental includes, but that’s a small inconvenience for saving a substantial chunk of money. Of course, many countries rent manuals for less than automatics, so if you can’t drive a stick, you may see a huge jump in rates for making a special request.

Renting a car can give you the freedom to travel on your own schedule an allow you to bring a few extra necessities with you that you won’t have to carry around on your person. If you make a few changes to the way you rent, you can save money here and there along the way. Luckily, those amounts can add up quickly and turn an okay deal into a really good deal.

Date posted: 27th July, 2015

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