Since the beginning of Covid, car rental prices have been through the roof. In addition, availability has been an issue. Travelers since 2020 have not only reported paying exorbitant prices to rent a car, but also arriving at their destination to find there are no cars available to fulfil their reservation.
Here are a few tips to help you save some money on your car rentals this year.
The early bird may get a better price. It may also increase your odds of finding availability for the specific car type you are looking to rent. I like to make my reservatons early, then call a day or 2 before my trip to reconfirm and make sure a car will be ready for me when I arrive.
In 2019 I used Autoslash a lot and snagged some really cheap rentals. They are an Aggregator, but what makes them different is the ability to track your reservation for price drops. If they find a cheaper price before your trip, they notify you to give you the option to rebook at the lower rate. By using their tracking feature and rebooking when the prices dropped, I ended up with a 4 day rental with unlimited miles in Portland for $75 and another 3 day rental in Oahu for about $100.
It is an easy process to get a price quote or add your confirmation number to their price tracker. I still check their rates each time, but since the Covid rental car shortages began, they don’t always have deals as deep as they once did.
I have been a AAA member for years. Here are a few reasons that I continue to renew my membership year after year.
- Membership is pretty inexpensive and each additional member added is even cheaper.
- You don’t have to have their insurance to become a member.
- Their emergency roadside service can be a life saver if you need Towing, Run out of Gas, are Locked Out of your vehicle or need a Jump Start.
- Travel perks: Free maps, travel guides and passport photos.
- Membership also comes with a ton of travel discounts including hotels, theme park tickets, restaurants, and even car rentals.
AAA offers discount codes for their primary car rental parter, Hertz. You can use the code when booking directly on the Hertz site to save money and still earn loyalty points. You can also combine the AAA code with any current Hertz promotional discounts for even bigger savings.
You may also get a good discount with other Membership Sites like Costco.
My friends Joe and Sharon at Your Mileage May Vary wrote a post last year that reminded me to check the Corporate Discount Codes offered through my employer. I did and saved a considerable amount on a rental in California last June. If you work for a larger company, take a few minutes to find out if they have any Corporate Discount Codes for car rentals that you can use.
Credit Card Benefits
Some credit cards offer car rental protection as one of their benefits. It comes as either Primary or Secondary coverage. Primary is the best, because any damage you may incur is paid by your credit card first, whereas Secondary coverage is a back up to your personal car insurance policy.
Before your next car rental, check your cards to see if they offer this benefit. If so, when making the reservation be sure you pay with that card and decline the additional coverage offered by the rental company. With average daily insurance rates of $11 or more, you can save a lot by utilizing this perk. Here are other ways you can save money with your credit card for car rentals.
- Discounts offered if you book through the credit card’s travel portal or website. By using this method to book your car rental, not only may you nab a good price, you can usually earn valuable points as well.
- Limited time Special Offers that you can add from your account page on the credit card website prior to your reservation. (Ex. Amex or Chase offers)
- Travel Eraser features on your credit card allow you to apply points you have on file to “erase” certain travel costs that you charged using that card.
Loyalty Program Discounts
I always sign up for the Free Loyalty Program of any travel related company (hotel, airline, car rental company) that I use. This means that I earn points with every reservation. Eventually, you may earn enough points to pay for or reduce the cost of future bookings.
You may also be able to transfer points from your credit cards to an affiliated loyalty program in order to have enough points for a free rental.
Aggregator – A company that collects data and negotiates pricing on behalf of a group
Companies like Priceline, Expedia and Travelocity collect data from many car rental companies and organize it into one site for simplified price comparisons. They may also garner a discount off of the rack rate that can make renting through them cheaper than reserving directly from the rental companies.
In these uncertain times, travel plans often change quickly. Aggregators may also provide more flexible change and cancellation protections than the rental companies do. They are worth checking out.
Wrapping it Up
As you can see there are a lot of different options that you can use to try and save money on your car rentals. Don’t get too comfortable using the same old method each time, because what works best on one occasion may not be the cheapest route on your next go around. My suggestion is to start early and compare prices using a few different methods each time.
Hope this helps you save a few bucks on your next car rental!
Dream, Plan, SAVE…Adventure!