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How to save money on car rentals

How To Save Money on Car Rentals

Updated on April 20, 2021

 Personal Finance

Saving money while traveling can be a daunting task. In our series involving how to save money on travel, we're offering some tips regarding renting vehicles and how to save money on rental cars for your vacation. If you are taking a vacation, the necessity to free up money for personal expenses is an imperative, because as we all know, it’s much better to have extra spending money for a trip than to have to budget for one. If you've already saved money on a hotel, you might be thinking about how to get around. Sometimes the amount of money you save for a trip can mean the difference between having some decent spending money while you are on vacation, or having to hunker down and stay in one place, which then begs the question: why bother with a rental car?

Research Will Save You Money on Car Rentals

First, start with plenty of research. If you’re looking to rent a car for a specific set of dates at a specific destination, take a look at all your options before you commit to just one company. All of the major rental outfits keep track of each other’s rates and do their best to match them. If you are travelling in the Spring or Fall, check around their websites for off-peak discounts. And don’t just visit the rental sites. Check out some of the aggregate websites (such as Priceline or Travelocity) which let the rental companies compete with each other to get you a decent rate. You can check for good rates without having to commit to a purchase (yes, even at Priceline). If you come across a good rate, don’t be afraid to call a competing rental company and ask if they’ll beat that price. It may seem like stating the obvious, but rental companies want to get people into their cars. If they have cars sitting on the lot, they aren’t making any money, so most of the time, they will be ready to give you a better rate than a competing company, including the deep discount you might have gotten on another company’s website.

Don't Forget to Bring Your Memberships Cards

AAA, Costco and AARP others all have deals with rental car companies that can save you a significant amount of money. These are best utilized during peak travel time (Winter and Summer), when the rental companies tend to limit their online savings rates.

Traveling for Pleasure?

Most rental car companies make their bread and butter from business rentals during the week. This means they might be willing to give you a discount on a vacation style rental since you would have more flexibility than the average renting business client. The best way to do this is to find your best deal, then call up the same company and tell them about your rate, then let them know you are traveling for pleasure and not business. Most of the time, they will likely offer you a discount, especially if you helpfully offer to take your business elsewhere (not in an negative way), just cheerfully tell the rental agent “I’ve gotten good deals with Acme Rental, I was hoping to get the same with you.” Again, they are looking to put clients in their cars, not have empty cars sitting on the lot.

Flying into an Airport?

Take a look at the possibility of some rental places that are off-site. At some airports, all the rental facilities are away from the airport (San Diego, for instance), but at others, there are on-site rental lots and there are others just a short shuttle ride away. The off-site rental places often can offer deals that the in-airport facilities are unable to give you. Why? These places (like Hawaii, or Vegas, or Aspen) often have large destination resorts in which guests intend to stay at the entire time they are there, and then often change their minds and wish to rent a car for the length of their stay. For instance: some people fly into Vegas with the intent of just wandering downtown, because all their favorite casino hotels are located there, and they all have shuttle service from the airport anyway. But with so many things to do in Vegas and outside of Vegas, halfway through the week, someone decides they want to take the drive to the Grand Canyon and so they rent a car for the excursion. This has happened so much, that many hotels in Vegas have small car rental agencies on the property. It’s easy to find out if your intended rental agency has an off-site facility, and often times, they are looking to put clients in those cars, especially if those at the airport lots are already reserved.

Save Money on Your Car Rental at Smaller Franchises

Look at the smaller franchise rental car businesses, and not just the national chains. For some people a rental car is just a means of conveyance during their trip; a way of getting from one point to another without much concern for style or that “new car” feel. Lots of smaller chains rent out older cars for significantly discounted rates that are much better than the national chains. If you don’t mind driving around in that 2010 Nissan Pathfinder, then chances are you can find a good rate on that particular midsize SUV without having to pony up the much higher charges for the same type of car at a brand name rental facility.

And Then There Is Sixt

This is not a commercial endorsement, but we gotta say, these folks certainly have an interesting approach. They rent out premium cars for reasonable prices. The catch is that they’re leftovers from other rental fleets that have been refurbished or otherwise repaired for rental purposes. Some of them might have minor accident histories, and the dings have all been fixed, etc. That Mini Cooper at Sixt for less than 25 dollars a day will fetch you about 40/day at the national chains. And if you want to have some fun, check out the Mercedes SLK for just over 40 bucks a day. That’s a minimum 100/day rental anywhere else. Of course, that SLK will have some miles on it, but if you’re on a budget, when will you have the chance to drive one for this price?

CASH 1 wants you to have fun on your next vacation. If you’re thinking about taking a trip and have an emergency expense while on vacation, find out if small cash loans or a Las Vegas payday loan is right for you. It could mean the difference between having fun or stressing out, especially if you know you can pay it back when you return from your trip.