One of the hassles of planning a vacation or a business trip is figuring out how you’ll get around. You could take a taxi to your destinations, but this can get expensive. Car rental is more convenient, but it’s not always easy to get a good price.
When you start shopping around for car rentals, you’ll often find that the prices can vary wildly. You might find a $250 rental for the week of your trip, while the same rental agency charges $50 the following week.
With prices changing frequently, how can you get the best deal on your rental? By being smart about your choices.
Here are 6 smart ways to save money on car rentals.
#1 – Rent Your Vehicle for a Longer Period
You might assume that it’s cheaper to rent a car for 3 days than for 7. But, many rental agencies charge less for a longer rental period. The reason for this is simple.
The biggest rental customers are business travelers that only need a vehicle for one to three days. They aren’t as concerned with the cost of these rentals as they’re often reimbursed by their company. So, rental companies can charge more for these short rentals.
You’ll find that if you look for a longer rental period, the rate per day will drop dramatically. You might even save more by doubling the length of your rental.
If you’re planning on staying an area for the week, don’t rent a vehicle for the weekend – rent it for the entire week. The weekly rates are often lower than the weekend rates.
#2 – Don’t Rent Your Vehicle from an Airport Location
Car rental agencies know that the majority of their customers will be people arriving at the airport. Naturally, many of these agencies set up locations at or near the airport to attract more customers.
For this convenience, car rental agencies also charge more. On average, you can expect to pay 25% more when you rent from an airport location. You could save money by renting from the same company from another location further away from the hotel.
At the same time, you’ll likely still have the option of dropping off your vehicle at the airport when you leave. A lot of these agencies charge more for airport pickup, but they don’t charge for airport drop-off.
#3 – Consider Renting from the Smaller Rental Agencies
You’ve probably heard the names of the most popular rental agencies. They are names that most people are familiar with. But, there are plenty of other agencies out there. This is especially true in major cities.
These less-obvious brands will generally charge less for comparable rentals, as they are competing with the bigger rental agencies.
#4 – Take Advantage of Any Discounts
If you’re a member of AARP or AAA, you can receive discounts from numerous car rental agencies. Make sure that you check with the agency to find out if you qualify for a special discount. This could include 10% off of your rental or rebates on weekly rentals.
You can also look online for deals or discounts. Visit the official website of the company that you’re considering using. They could have valuable coupons that you can print or show on your phone to save money.
#5 – Join a Rewards Program and Save money
Rewards programs and loyalty programs are often available from car rental companies. They reward repeat customers by providing discounts on future rentals.
If you know that you’ll be traveling at least once per year, this is a great way to save money without doing any special. It’s similar to the rewards programs used by hotels, airlines, and retail stores.
Every time that you rent a car, you will earn more rewards. Though, these rewards programs often include additional incentives. You may receive special offers and promotional deals in the mail or to your email address.
It doesn’t hurt to at least check and see if the agencies that you’re thinking about using have a rewards program.
If they don’t have one of these programs in place, they may still offer deals if you decide to sign-up to their email list. So, visit their website and see what they have to offer.
#6 – Use an Online Site to Search for More Deals
The final solution for saving money on car rentals is to use online sites. You can find sites that compare prices from major car rental agencies. You can use this as a quick way to explore all your options.
Along with sites that are dedicated to car rentals, you should also look at the sites dedicated hotel prices and airline prices. You might be able to save money by purchasing an all-inclusive package, which includes a combination of airline tickets, hotel rooms, and car rentals.
Author Bio – Steve Bomm, the author of this article, writes occasionally in support of InsanelyCheapFlights.com, a sought after online travel portal for cheap tickets, car rentals, flight tickets etc.