Car rental hints and tips, and ways to save money on rides, are important to keep in mind, as rental rates are about as predictable as the weather these days. Rental prices are determined by several factors including type of car, dates, demand, pick up and drop off locations, and even the rental car company itself. Whether renting directly through a specific rental company, third party or travel agent, there are a few tips that travelers should use to prevent paying exorbitant rates. Read on to find out more about top car rental savings hints and tips, as well as expert ways to save on your next business trip or vacation.
Avoid Airport Locations – Most airports locations apply extra surcharges on all car rentals. Demand is also normally higher at the airport because it is the most convenient option for many travelers. Research off-airport locations to find cheaper rates. Even after factoring in Uber/Lyft or public transportation, reserving with rental company located away from the airport may be worth it.
Ask for Discounts – Yep, it can be that simple. If you want a simple set of car rental hints and tips, and ways to save money on rides, remember: Car rental companies offer discounts for active duty members of the military, veterans and certain club members. When making a reservation, mention that you’re a member of AAA, Sam’s Club, Costco, AARP, USAA or whatever club or organization that you may belong to. Oftentimes, discounts can be attained through airline frequent flyer or hotel frequent stay memberships as well depending on status.
Don’t Spring for Add-Ons – Most drivers’ car insurance covers them when driving a rental, so the insurance that the rental companies offer is often unnecessary. Many rental companies also offer GPS and Satellite radio at added costs as well, but you can simply use your phone for turn-by-turn navigations and streaming music/podcasts free of charge and pocket the extra cash.
Use Travel Websites – Aggregators like Kayak and Hipmunk can help. These sites scour the Internet for the best rental rates across several different rental companies. Both sites offer up prices from traditional rental outlets as well as companies the average consumer has never heard of, so be sure to read the fine print and reviews when renting from one of the smaller companies. Aggregator websites provide helpful tools to compare prices and determine the market for particular days and cities in one shot.
Discount Sites – Hotwire and Priceline show users the price of vehicles they can rent, but do not reveal the company until the sale is closed. These sites are able to offer moderate to large discounts when car rental companies off-sell them cars that they believe will not be rented during a specific time.
Pay Up Front – Budget and Avis offer significant discounts for customers who pay the full rental amount up front. Why not save up to 35% by paying early? Not only will this help you save money, it will also speed up the checkout process at the rental counter.
Use Points – Some travel credit cards allow cardholders to use their rewards to book rental cars. Even if you don’t want to use the points, oftentimes these cards offer discount rates as well.
Register One Driver – Although there may be several people in your party, pick a driver and stick with that person. Car rental companies charge $12-$13 per additional driver. Some companies waive the fee for life partners, but both parties must have the same address on their drivers’ licenses.
Make sure you know what to look for the next time you’re at the rental counter. For more car rental hints and tips, and ways to save money on travel, don’t miss these additional guides.
Branden J. Peters byline has appeared in multiple outlets including askmen.com, XXL, Playboy, Source, Complex, Vibe, Hoop, Slam, Bleacher Report and more. He is currently the top editor for Proday.co, as well as the host of the critically acclaimed weekly Day 1 Radio podcast.