Taking rental cars on your vacation can be troublesome. With all the peculiar guidelines of firms that provide rental cars, it can be a pain. Also, rental cars are not cheap. Sometimes, they cost more than the convenience they provide to you.
We have had significant experience with rental cars over the years. We will tell you the secrets to shell out as little money as possible for rental cars. So, here are the top tips to get the best rental cars deals.
1. Go Through Aggregator Sites
Selecting rental cars can be confusing. It is always better to check out the aggregator sites on rental cars in the beginning. You can see several car rental firms at once on these sites. There are numerous such sites on the internet. But most of them have the same content. So, we recommend the sites Kayak and Expedia. These sites will give you a basic idea of the costs of various rental cars. But do not go ahead and book just yet. First, read our following tips.
2. Visit Official Sites
Aggregator sites are suitable for showing you the various options for rental cars. But it would help if you always compared the rates with the quotes on the official website of the rental cars provider. Sometimes, the rental cars provider will give you a great deal for direct booking. For example, Kayak may give you a good deal on rental cars from Enterprise. Then, you should visit the official website and search for the same rental cars. You will not always get a reasonable price this way. But it is undoubtedly worth a check.
3. Consider Budget Rental Providers
Most tourists know about rental cars providers such as Avis, Enterprise, and Hertz. These are the providers to opt for in most cases. But it is also worth considering smaller rental cars providers. They may not provide extensive location coverage or fancy sites like the big rental cars providers. But they can offer good deals. Go through CarRentals.com to find out about rental cars from these smaller firms. They will not always be cheaper. But it is good to check out their prices before booking rental cars.
4. Compare Daily and Weekly Rates
You would think that the daily rate would be more expensive than the weekly rate. However, that is not the case every time. You may be taking a four-day trip. Then, it may be more prudent to book rental cars for a week and return them in advance. So, it is necessary to see whether the weekly rate will cost less than the daily rate before booking rental cars. Also, read the terms and conditions of the rental cars provider before you book weekly rental cars. This should help you avoid scenarios where you are hit with surplus charges for giving the car back in advance. Finally, remember never to tell the rental provider when booking that you return the weekly car early. They may put additional charges on the rental cars.
5. Skip the Insurance
You may do some in-depth research and get the best rate on rental cars. This is where many travelers congratulate themselves. Once they have rented the car, they go on to waste precious cash on it. Do not fall into this trap. Car rental insurance is a waste of money. The rental providers will try to convince you to take the insurance. They will scare you using all kinds of tactics, but you most probably do not require it in reality.
You may have car insurance for your automobile. Then, it will generally cover the rental car also. You can also ask your insurance agent if the policy covers rental cars. If you use the correct credit card to book the car rental, you automatically get car insurance. Many travel credit cards have rental car insurance at no additional charges.
6. Book Economy Cars
This warrants its own section because it is a special kind of upgrade. Every provider will try to give you a fancier rental at all stages of the process. But do not take up these offers. Even if you want a nicer vehicle, always opt for the economy car. In many situations, you will try to pick up your economy car and find out that you have been assigned an upgraded car. This is because the providers have a shortage of economy cars due to high demand during peak seasons.
7. Do Not Pick Up the Rental at the Airport
You may feel that it is convenient to pick up your booked rental at the airport. This is even more valid when you are traveling by plane. But do not take this step. Rental providers may charge you nearly $30 more for picking up the rental at the airport. Choose a non-airport address to save cash. You may have to pay $15 for a cab to reach the location of the rental. But it will still save precious cash.
8. Only Have One Driver
It is hard work to do all the driving on a lengthy trip. So, it is entirely understandable if you want another driver by your side to take some precious rest. But, there is a cost to doing so as well. It can cost more than $12 daily to have a driver with your rental. Try to find out if the rental provider can waive this fee if you absolutely need an extra driver. Most providers will waive off the charges if the extra driver is your domestic partner or spouse. You can also book through Costco Travel to get the fee waived.
9. Return the Rental with a Full Tank
After a lengthy trip, all you want to do is get home as quickly as possible. So, it is convenient to return the rental without refueling it. But, we strongly object to you taking this route. This is because rental providers charge a crazy rate for refueling the car. Sure, you can take that route if you are in a hurry. Otherwise, it is always advisable to refuel the car yourself. Even though it takes some minutes, you will save some considerable cash.
10. Get the Best Deal on Gas
Gas is the second most expensive part of any car rental. It comes second to the price of renting the vehicle itself. So, take the time to get the top deals on gas. You can find the cheapest gas through an app called GasBuddy. The app provides the top deals on gas near your location. You will be pleasantly surprised to find out how much cash you can save if you take your car a few miles extra. You may also go to the GasBuddy website to get the same information if you do not want to use the app.
11. See If You Qualify for a Discount
There are numerous rental discounts out there. Here is a list of some of the discounts that are available for you.
- AARP member discount
- AAA member discount
- Hotel loyalty program discount
- Frequent flyer program discount
- Costco member discount (when you book through Costco Travel)
- Corporate discounts
- Government employee discount
- Military discount
- Veteran discount
This list is not exhaustive in any way. You may be a member of any organization. Then you may get a discount instead of that. It can lead to considerable savings for you.
12. Book with Points If It Makes Sense
Surely, getting your car rental for free is even better than getting deals on your rental. This is possible when you use your credit card points or airline miles. Of course, this does not always make financial sense. You can get greater value for your points by utilizing them for hotel stays and air travel. But you may be taking a lengthy trip. Then you could have extensive savings if you book your rental with points.
13. Ditch the Rental Car Entirely
Rental cars are very useful in some situations. But according to us, there are not many trips that actually require them. For example, you may be in a place with an extensive public transport system. You can get a three-day or weekly transit pass for less money than getting a rental for a single day. In such a scenario, a car is unnecessary. And there is also biking and walking. Walking is free. Many places have bike-share services that do not cost a lot. So, you can use a combination of biking and walking to access most locations. It may be that biking, walking, or public transit are not viable options. Then, you can access a rideshare service such as Lyft or Uber to get anywhere you want. It will be less pricey than the cost of the rental car and gas. This is unless you are going on very long trips.
Our private tours typically range from $500 - $1000 per person/per night depending on chosen hotels and room categories, vehicles used, types of tours, flight cost, time of year and other factors. Make an inquiry for a customized trip quote.