Rental Car Deals and How to Get Them

Rental Car Deals and How to Get Them
  • Opening Intro -

    Renting a car is a great option when you are planning a long trip and you prefer to leave your vehicle at home.

    Or, you may choose to rent a car upon arriving at your destination after completing your flight.


Regardless of the reasons for needing to rent a car, there are deals to be had provided you know where to look for them.

1. Skip the airport. Simply because you begin your trip at the airport does not mean you have to use the rental car service near the terminal. Airport rental locations are typically priced at least 25 percent higher than off-site locations, the latter often reachable by a commuter train or bus.

Shop the rental car company’s website to compare rates between airports and nearby locations. You may be amazed at the price difference, but understand that the overhead is greater at the airport and those costs are passed on to the customer.

2. Reserve it by the week. If your rental is for three or four days, you may find that you’ll pay more than the person renting a car for a full week. Rates are typically lowest when cars are rented for a longer term, therefore choose the longer and cheaper rental, then bring the car back earlier.

You may also find that if you need a car for the long term, renting by the month can yield the biggest savings. Just verify that the miles limitations and other restrictions will have little bearing on your driving habits.

3. Pay in advance. As soon as you know your plans, book your rental car. Booking weeks, even months in advance can secure you a better rate. It can also ensure that you have a reservation during a busy travel season.

Rental car companies will often move inventory around to meet demand. Yet, a sudden influx of people to one location can strain inventory and limit your car rental choices.

4. Use off-brand companies. Hertz, Enterprise and Avis are among the top brands in the industry. You’ll pay for the name brand rental, but can save money by renting with Budget, Dollar and Thrifty. You may be able to save additional money by renting with a regional brand or with a car service specializing in older vehicles.

Many of the off-brand companies have locations that are outside of metropolitan areas. This option can actually serve suburban and rural dwellers better and provide excellent savings.

5. Shop for discounts. Nearly every rental car company slashes prices. You just need to know how to find them. Discounts are available for AAA and AARP members as well as for warehouse club members including BJs and Costco. Virtual discounts are available too, where a “coupon code” is entered and instant savings are given.

You can find further discounts by visiting sites such as Orbitz, SayFunTravel, Kayak and Travelocity. Get multiple quotes and compare prices. Take advantage of “bump ups” too where the rental car company puts you behind the wheel of a better vehicle at no extra charge.

Rental Considerations

If you like a rental car enough, the company may be willing to sell it to you. Most rental fleets are available for retail sale or sent to auction once the company no longer needs the vehicle.


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About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".