10 Tips for Finding the Best Car Rental Deals

10 tips for finding the best prices on rental cars. … Read More >10 Tips for Finding the Best Car Rental Deals

One question I often hear is, how do you find good car rental deals? Car rentals can be a significant cost to your vacation, but knowing how to search for the best deals can help cut that cost significantly. I use multiple sources to search out the best prices. I don’t recommend one over the other, but rather, I recommend you search all of the sources available to you.
  1. Use your memberships at Costco, AAA, and other travel related sites to search deals.
  2. USAA and similar banking groups offer travel deals, don’t forget to search them. One of the best deals I ever got on a car was through USAA.
  3. Join the different rental car programs, like Budget’s Fastbreak program (they have their own). These are free and offer you deal throughout the year, additionally, they offer quick check-in at most locations. After having traveled during spring break one year, I found that having the quick check in can save you hours in line.
  4. When you book direct through a car rental company, you can often also use your other memberships like AAA as well. Or, you can book through Costco, USAA or AAA and add your car rental company membership number to the reservation. This can give you the best of both worlds, good prices and fast check in.
  5. Don’t lock yourself in to a deal too far ahead of time, unless you know it’s a great deal. The well known car rental companies, and any site you use to book them through, do not require payment up front. Use this to your advantage. You can book a deal, but continue checking frequently, as the prices fluctuate frequently. The only caveat here is, some of the sites will offer you a discount if you pay up front. I personally don’t use this unless I know the deal is an exceptional one already.
  6. Look for coupon codes. Places like RetailMeNot, Ebates, or Ibotta offer coupon codes where you can save money on your booking and earn cash back.
  7. Check for package deals. I rarely book package deals as I often find that booking separately saves the most money, however that is often because we are using airline miles or ticket deals that we cant use if we book a package. When booking package deals, don’t forget to compare apples to apples. If the package deal includes an off-site car rental place that has bad reviews, you aren’t necessarily getting the best deal.
  8. Certain destinations have much better car rental deals if you book at an off-site (away from airport) dealer. The key here is to make sure they have sufficient transportation too and from the airport at the hours you need it. Also, be sure to check reviews. When the destination is away from the airport, they have less competition close by, and sometimes the service is lacking (learned this the hard way).
  9. If you need a specific size car, start looking as soon as you book the rest of your travel. The less flexibility you have in car size, the sooner you need to start looking for a deal. If you aren’t locked in to having a certain size car, you will likely find the best deals.
  10. Site comparisons like Kayak can be helpful. Just remember to do your own research too.
I didn’t talk about Hotwire or Priceline for a few reasons. The number one reason is that I don’t use them for car rentals, so I cannot effectively share my experiences. The second reason is that using either of these sites locks you in to a price, and my research as described above , has proven time and again that prices fluctuate and if you are patient. a better deal will likely come along. That doesn’t mean these aren’t good resources, it just means they are’t my go-to. Another thing that comes up every time we rent a car is whether we want accident protection. I don’t know about you, but I know that I cannot afford to be replacing a car I don’t already own. Before one of our trips I called my insurance company to inquire about whether we needed to purchase the accident protection and they told me that I did not, that my husband and I are covered no matter what car we are driving. That being said, I highly recommend you call your own insurance and ask them if you need to purchase the accident protection when you rent cars on vacation. I imagine they aren’t all the same. If you have any tips to share, or any questions, please sign up to follow my blog and message me!

One Reply to “10 Tips for Finding the Best Car Rental Deals”

  1. Thanks for sharing. We do lots of research on cars when we travel. Haven’t foun the best thing yet. Usually use southwest so i can get more flyer miles though!

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