Even as the price of gas continues to go through the roof, thousands of individuals and families continue to rent cars. Whether renting a car to travel while on vacation or use them to drive to their destination, car rentals remain a major force in the travel industry. That said, here are some tips on getting a deal on your next car rental.
Note that you should also check out the article on discount airline tickets and discount hotel rooms. These are among the most popular articles on the site and the free tips can save you a lot of money.
Bargain Car Rentals
Let’s begin with where you get your rent-a-car. It is recommended that you don’t book with a company that you have never heard of before. In many cases, well-meaning vacationers get over- charged on their credit card and it’s next to impossible to work it out via phone later on.
If you are booking a car rental online, find a website that shows the cars in their fleet, including prices with all the different taxes and add ons. That way you can see the value and not get hit with other costs when you drop off the car. Some of the larger companies include Avis Rent A Car, Enterprise Rent-A-Car (USA, Canada, UK), Hertz, Budget, Thrifty, National, Dollar Rent-A-Car, and Alamo.
Car Rental Discount Codes
Car rental coupon codes can save you money. The idea is that you use your car rental codes to get a significant discount and the better the source of the code, the greater the discount.
There are a number of associations and organizations that provide discount codes. If you belong to a professional association (such as the American Medical Association), you may be eligible for a discount. Car rental agencies also sometimes offer coupons and lower prices to military families, students, and seniors.
Sometimes you can find codes in the newspaper, magazines, or in mailings. If you don’t have access to theses, try searching for discount codes websites. There are lots of them for many products and services.
Get the Best Car Rental Deals
Be Sure to look around for the best deals on car rentals. Call the major companies or use the Internet to compare prices and packages. This is a different type of search from looking for discount airline tickets because the car rental packages that are offered by the various companies tend to vary more than simple airline prices. For example, some rental packages come with insurance while others offer you different levels of coverage.
If you call a car rental agency, find out what their current rates are as well as their higher rates. Sometimes you get a quoted rate but if you call back a while later, they give you a different rate. One common reason is that they started running low on cars for the days that you want to rent and so they raised their fees.
A lot of people reserve a small car which will satisfy their needs, in advance. When they get to the car rental agency, they ask for a free upgrade. This tactic is common and may be worth your while. Agencies that rent cars want to give you the best cars they have so that you become loyal to them and call back for your next vacation or business trip. As such, they frequently offer free upgrades using in-house car rental discount codes and coupons.
The only downside of this tactic is that if you hoped for a larger car at no extra charge, you may get shafted. Also, note that if you have a coupon, it may not be of any realistic value because the stated terms are too limiting. There are coupon codes for free car rental upgrades in addition to the cost saving variety.
Similarly, if you want a small 2-door car but they are out, request or search for prices for different size vehicles that may be more plentiful during the time you will need it.
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Car renters can also benefit from lower prices by exchanging frequent flyer miles or similar loyalty plan points.
If you really want a bargain car rental, the best thing to is to rent a car during low season and for a longer period of time. For example, renting for a week may add up to about the same as renting for 4 or 5 days. So if you will be traveling for about a week, ask for the weekly rental fees as well as daily fees.
Another way to get a cheap car rental is to find out about any differential pricing. For example, car rental prices are programmed into a central number but call the local dealership which may offer a better price if they have a local special running.
When booking, consider asking about the brand names of cars that the location carries. Moreover, if you know anyone who has rented in a specific city, ask them where to go. The service, quality, and availability may vary across locations.
Also, find out if a car rental location has 24-hour access. Many close at 10pm and open at 6am. Be sure to get their procedure for car pick-ups and drop-offs before you reserve.
People who are looking for one-way car rentals should be aware of where they can drop it off.
Types of Cars You Can Rent
Car rental agencies rent a range of vehicles for different purposes. Ask about convertibles, mini-van, SUVs and other sports utility vehicles, jeeps, limos, hummers, 4 wheel drive (4WD) for rough terrain, and everything from two-door cars to 15-passenger vans.
Points to Keep in Mind when Renting a Car
Whether you intend to rent a sedan or a convertible, there are a few items you should keep in mind. First, the minimum care rental age is frequently 18 years old and sometimes up to 25. As mentioned above, you probably should stick with the national and International car rental chains.
If you have to return your car, many places offer free shuttle service to and from all local airport locations.
Who Needs a Car Rental?
Short term business trips rarely require car rentals because most traveling is typically done by taxi. People on cruises obviously don’t need cars because the cruise ships take them to various ports and other vacation destinations for short visits (frequently about a day). Vacationers are the target market of car rental chains and the industry is very competitive.
So what it boils down to is, if you aren’t taking a bus tour and you don’t have a friend or relative at your vacation destination, you’re probably going to want to rent a car.
Now the thing is (there is always a “thing,” isn’t there?!), the car rental companies are well aware of this fact and do quite well with your vacation dollars. Ever hear of a car rental company going bankrupt? It’s pretty rare. On the contrary, airlines continue to file for bankruptcy on a regular basis. They keep lowering their air fares and it is sometimes possible to buy discount airline tickets that are cheaper than your car rental!
Popular Car Rental Locations
The following are among the most popular places where cars are rented, especially for people planning vacations (although businesses certainly rent cars frequently as well): Orlando, Miami, Florida, California, Las Vegas, New York, Maui, Honolulu, Hawaii, NYC, London UK, Europe, Italy, Ireland, Spain, New Zealand, Toronto, Montreal, and Calgary car rentals.
Use this info wisely and you’ll get the most out your car renting experience. Be sure to check out this other articles that are full of practical and useful info.