Though rental car services are everywhere, finding a good deal on a car rental is a bit different from tracking down the best hotel prices or airfare rates. Renting a car while you travel can be expensive, costing you hundreds during the duration of the trip.
It’s important to cut car rental costs when necessary and still maintain a quality and dependable vehicle.
Don’t miss out in finding some of the best prices on car rentals.
Here are a few tips to help you save on car rental services
Reserve a Small Basic Car for Some of the Best Prices
This may sound obvious, but too many people go for the big brand with fancy features when they rent cars. Or, the rental company offers them the most impressive vehicle on the lot and they don’t think they have any other options. This recently happened when looking at car places near me. This might catch you off guard. If you readily say yes, this can easily cause rental fees to rise.
While you want a safe and quality vehicle, realize that driving the newest model with the lowest mileage isn’t always necessary. Car rental companies already do a good job of maintaining an updated inventory that gets serviced regularly.
You can automatically save money by choosing the most economical option especially if you don’t need more than five seats. Upgrading to an SUV or van is where it gets expensive, and you could end up paying more than $100 per day. Cheap car rentals doesn’t always equate to a lack of quality. Keep this in mind when looking.
Comparison Shopping is Key
Not all car rental companies are considered equal. The prices you see on the rental company’s website can be completely different when you call or book through a 3rd party website.
This is why it’s so important to shop around and compare all your options. Check out independent travel sites like Travelocity, Expedia, and Orbitz. Also, call local offices and check the official website to see what the current rates are.
Be sure to read the fine print and make sure you understand all the terms and requirements. Some car companies may charge you a ridiculous price per gallon to top off the gas tank after you’ve returned the car.
You can easily avoid this expense by filling the car up with gas yourself right before you return it.
Book Early and Avoid the Airport Options
One of the worst things you can do from a financial standpoint is wait until your plane lands to find a rental car. At this time, you will be at a disadvantage and more willing to accept the inflated prices you see at the airport.
Oftentimes, airport rental companies will charge you for an upgraded rental and since you’re renting last minute, there may not be a cheaper alternative.
To avoid this, book your car weeks in advance and shop around for the best deal.
Book For Longer and Watch Out For Sales
The interesting thing about car rentals is that sometimes you can actually save money by renting the car for a longer time frame. This is because daily and weekly rentals can vary quite a bit.
Be sure to ask the rental company to disclose both prices so you can choose what works best for you and avoid overspending on travel expenses.
Also, don’t forget to keep your eye open for sales. Some places like Enterprise offers weekend specials to help you save if you only need the car for a day or two.
Use Credit Card Rewards or Book With Travel
If you have rewards credit cards, you may be eligible for discounts on car rentals and for insurance when you book a car for a trip.
You also might want to book your car when you’re booking your flight or hotel. There’s often an option to book a rental car with partnering companies during the checkout process.
Many airlines and hotel chains have partnerships with major rental car companies so you can save by booking everything at once and kill two birds with one stone.
The Bottom Line
Renting a car can be an expensive addition to your travel budget if you don’t prepare accordingly. Whether you’re a small business owner looking for money saving tips on travel or looking to get the best prices for pleasure purposes, use these tips to plan ahead, research top rental car companies, and score the best deal on your next car rental.