How To Find Cheap Rental Car Deals
If you plan to go on vacation, chances are you'll need transportation. Whether for just you, your family or several coworkers, renting cars and SUVs has become a common way to travel and transport. While car rental companies like Enterprise, Thrifty, Alamo and National are typically easy to locate, getting the best deal for your money isn't always a simple find. Learn how to discover and negotiate the smartest price for your next car rental.
Cheap Car Rental
From the company you choose, to the method and timing of your booking, several key aspects factor into the price of your car rental. You'll also need to consider what you'll be needing the car for, gas usage and storage space.
Before checking out the prices at various car rental locations, consider the following questions to determine which car is best for you:
- How Many People Will Be Traveling With Me?
If you are the only person planning to ride in the car, chances are you won't need an SUV. While you may prefer the extra head space in a bigger vehicle, that also means a steeper rental price and higher gas consumption. The larger the car, the more expensive the rental.
- What Will I Be Transporting In The Car?
If you have several people traveling with you, or are simply bringing several pieces of large luggage, a smaller, economically sized car may not work for you. Consider how much space your bags, briefcases, boxes, etc. will take up in the backseat and trunk. Rather than being surprised at the car rental office (and potentially paying more for a larger car), determine how much cargo space you will need. Preparing ahead of time will allow you the opportunity to find deals on larger cars you may not find last minute.
- Is There Any Reason For The Rental Company To Refuse My License?
Some car rental companies check the driving record of renters before they are allowed to leave with their car. If you have received a DUI, DWI, moving violation or seat belt law violations recently, there is a chance that you will be refused a rental. Rather than finding out the day of, call and ask potential car rental companies or research online what their specific policy is. Scrambling to find a company that will accept your driving record will probably result in lost deals and a higher rental fee.
The Best Time To Rent A Car
Summer time and the fall to winter holidays are the busiest time of the year to rent a car. Unfortunately, this typically means it is also the most expensive season to rent as well. To avoid unnecessarily high rental fees during these peak seasons, consider the following:
- Book your rental car as soon as you know the dates you will be traveling. Booking far in advance typically gives you access to cheaper rental rates. Last minute bookings are notoriously more expensive, as last minute renters are particularly eager to reserve a car as quickly as possible, and often willing to pay more for it.
- Try booking your rental car online, through a travel service like Orbitz or Priceline. Often, travel companies are willing to match competitor's prices, and even refund you the difference if you have already booked, but find a cheaper price for the same rental elsewhere. Further, Priceline allows you to bid on car rentals, allowing you to name your own price in the hopes that the rental company will accept it. This is often a great way to strictly define your budget, and only pay what you can afford, even last minute.
- Travel companies can also hold special holiday deals, often months prior to the actual season. Try booking early to take advantage of these deals, as well as the price matching options.
- Search coupon websites like CouponMountain.com for deals on car rentals, which can reduce the price of your rental substantially. Look well in advance of your intended rental for the best chance at finding an applicable coupon for the best deal.
Car Rental Taxes And Fees
The daily price your pay for the rental car is not the total amount you will owe. Additional taxes and fees are applied to your charge, and can sometimes result in hundreds of dollars of extra charges. Check with the specific company you plan to rent from, as well as local taxes for the state you will be in. Rental companies must tell you before you purchase your rental what exactly they charge, allowing you to fully understand what you are expected to pay. Prevent charges you did not expect and/or cannot afford by confirming with the rental company. Various additional charges can include:
- Airport surcharge
- Mileage fees
- Drop off fee
- State taxes
- Underage-driver fee (typically applied under the age of 25)
- Out of state fees
- Sports equipment rental fees (ski racks, bike racks, etc.)
- GPS rental fees
- Additional driver fees
Knowing what you need, how soon you'll need it and what exactly you can afford are huge factors in saving money on car rentals. Before you travel, check out various car rental companies to verify how much they plan to charge in additional taxes and fees, as well as their driving record policies. Utilize last minute booking tools like price matching to help ensure you get the best price, and don't rent anything you don't actually need.