This is not your average money saving list on car rentals. Sure, you’ll find 11 tried and true tips that’ll save you BIG money on your next car rental. But, this is the first (at least that I know of!) car rental money saving article with a secret weapon! Can you handle it?! Are you ready to save BIG on your next car rental?
Here are 11 Ways to Save Big Money on Your Next Car Rental + 1 Secret Car Rental Weapon.
1. Shop around for the “best price.” Use websites like Kayak, rentalcars.com, or carrentals.com to search your dates. Prices and car types will show up from a variety of car rental brands. Keep in mind many travel discount websites are owned by a big parent company, which means their lowest price may not actually show the best price.
Kayak and rentalcars.com are both owned by Priceline and are not, in fact, competing against each other to find you the best price. In many cases, the opposite phenomenon occurs. While searching both websites and getting the same price on both, a traveler will likely think this price is the best rate since the price has been corroborated on another site.
2. Sign-up for car rental company emails. Receive promotion codes for upcoming sales. Be alerted to offers available to subscribers only. Join a company’s loyalty program and you might save even more, as well as earn award points.
3. Reserve the car for just the days that you need it. Use hotel shuttles and public transportation while you can and pick up your rental car only when it becomes necessary. Major rental car companies have numerous locations in most cities and popular destinations making it convenient to get a car when you need it. This also brings up the next point.
4. Choose a pick-up location somewhere other than the airport. Knowing the majority of visitors are likely to arrive at an airport, it shouldn’t be a surprise this is where car rentals are the priciest. In addition, local laws often add specific taxes just for airport rentals, which then are added to your bill. If it’s convenient, take public transportation into a city or a hotel shuttle to your accommodation and then rent a vehicle from a nearby location. Consider your plans carefully, though. Spending money on a taxi, only to rent a car once arriving at your destination, can only be justified in budget-saving terms if the price of an airport rental was especially inflated compared to a city rental location’s price.
5. Rent the type of car you need. Consider the number of people and bags you need to transport. Think about the terrain or weather conditions you’ll be driving in. Look at the car’s gas mileage. If it’s just 2 people who each have a bag, rent something small. If you’re driving in snowy weather, make sure the car has 4-wheel drive. Why spring for the convertible if you’re driving through Germany in January?
6. Deny the insurance. Check with your own car insurance to see what, if anything, is covered in case of an accident. Even better is to pay for the rental with a credit card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, that includes Primary Car Insurance. You’ll be protected against theft and damage to the vehicle whether you’re in the the U.S. or abroad and you won’t have to notify your personal car insurance provider if anything should happen. Other cards like the American Express Platinum and the Chase Ink Plus also provide Primary Car Insurance.
7. Use your travel rewards credit card to pay for your car rental! In addition to taking advantage of a Primary Car Insurance perk, using a travel rewards credit card for your rental will earn miles and points to use for future travel! The worst mistake you can make is to pay with a debit card or cash and not get a return on the money you’ve spent. A card like Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 2x the points on travel and then lets you transfer those points to 11 different airline and hotel partners.
8. Skip the bells and whistles. Do you really need that GPS when the Google Maps App lets you download and save maps to use offline? If you can drive a car with a manual transmission, why pay extra for an automatic? Adding extra drivers to the rental agreement often comes with charges. Do you need an extra driver? Are you planning a long road trip? Then, yes, the extra driver will make sense when another driver gets tired. Short drives for day trips probably don’t warrant an extra driver.
9. Fill up the tank! Speaking of bells and whistles, be wary of taking a fuel option, which allows you to return the car with an empty tank and the rental company to charge you their refueling rate. In some horrible instances, a car rental company will charge you a full tank price regardless of how much gas you’ve actually used. Instead, use an app like Gas Buddy to find the cheapest gas prices near you and refuel before returning the car.
10. Use your car rental reservation to earn frequent flyer miles. I LOVE earning miles and points and I’m always looking for ways to pad my travel rewards accounts. But, I only use this option when the miles and points offer is truly exceptional or if I know I need to earn miles to top up my account for an award. Otherwise, in my experience, the rentals offered through the airline or hotel typically don’t offer the cheapest rate. It is, though, always worth a check.
11. Obey all traffic laws. Hopefully, this is one is obvious. Speeding, illegal parking, and reckless driving will likely result in tickets and fines, not to mention the danger to yourself and others.
Are you ready for my Secret Car Rental Weapon?
I’ve used this secret weapon countless times and have always saved a bunch of cash on my car rental bookings.
It’s called Autoslash.
You can book directly through Autoslash, but I like to book with the “supposed” cheap travel sites like rentalcars.com. I can’t help it. I love the smile that forms on my face when I feel I have outsmarted the big online travel booking sites.
After I complete my booking on a site like rentalcars.com or Kayak, I head over to Autoslash, enter in my confirmation number and booking details. Once I’ve done this, Autoslash searches continuously up until the date of my reservation for cheaper prices.
I always get an email from Autoslash telling me they’ve found a cheaper price. The rate is always between 20-50% cheaper than what I was originally quoted and, many times, it’s from the exact same rental car company I previously booked. Autoslash takes me step-by-step through the rebooking and, within a few minutes, I have a shiny, brand new rental car reservation at an incredible lower price!
Find out all the details! Learn more about Autoslash!
How do you save on car rentals? Have you used Autoslash?
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