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Looking for how to get a cheap rental car when everywhere you look the prices are sky high? We have some creative tips to save big bucks while traveling!
How to Get a Cheap Rental Car This Summer
WHEW!! Have you noticed the cost of rental cars going up – up – up in the past year?
If you've rented a car recently you were probably floored by the prices. Car rentals are more expensive in 2021 than EVER before due to the current car rental shortage.
When people opted to stay home throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, car rental agencies had to sell off vehicles to stay afloat. Now that everyone's rushing back to make travel plans this Summer – the lots are half empty and rates are through the roof.
But that doesn't mean you have no options – here are a few ideas to still get a decent deal…
How to save money on a car rental this Summer:
Perhaps one of the most recent ways to save money is to rent a vehicle from Turo.
Turo is like the “AirBnb” of cars – where people rent out their vehicle to others. You can browse by make and model, as well as cost.
PPP Team Member Jamie went browsing for cars available near her and found some very reasonable rates – as low as $55:
She was able to find a pretty new Mid-Size Sedan for $65 a day – with a $33 discount for booking multiple days and booking early.
Note that extra fees will be added on at the end: A Turo Trip fee where they take their cut – research shows that tends to be around $7/day. And if your host charges to drop the car off at the airport – that'll be another fee that will be added.
How does Turo work?
- Enter a location.
- Submit a copy of your driver's license and auto insurance
- Book your trip and arrange pickup/dropoff location
- For the rental itself you'll need to download the app to communicate with the car owner (Like Uber or Lyft)
- Pick up the car and keys from your host and then you can be on your way!
Turo is a popular upcoming choice because people are tired of dealing with car rental companies and this gives them a little more freedom and can drastically cut costs.
One thing I love about Turo is that you can have the car delivered to you. Whether you’re at the airport or a hotel, you can arrange to have the car brought right to you.
(Another rent-by-owner option that's very similar is Zip Car)
Many of us use Costco for buying a lot of our food and goods, did you know that you can also use it for travel? Costco offers great exclusive rates to members on rental cars. Some of the perks to renting a car through Costo include:
- One Additional Driver Included*
- Book Now, Pay at the Counter
- No Cancellation Fees
- Executive Members Earn an Annual 2% Reward
- Reserve Soon for Better Car Availability
You can choose a car rental by brand too! Costco works with Alamo, Avis, Budget, and Enterprise.
How does Costco Car Rental work?
Costco is simple to rent from.
- Go to CostcoTravel.com
- Enter in your pickup or drop off location
- Enter Pick up time and date, and the drop off time and date
- From there, you can compare prices on book your next rental vehicle.
Rent a U-Haul Pickup-Truck Instead!
Reader Amanda sent in this creative tip – interesting!
We could not find a rental car in Maine for our trip in 2 weeks under $1300… but booked a Uhaul pickup truck for $300 for the whole week! A trick we learned from our Brazilian au pair.
I plugged in the dates for an imaginary vacation to Panama City just to test this tip out…. WOW!
My total for a 6 Day rental of a pickup truck was only $124.70 before tax – that's around $20 a DAY!
Of course – then you have to add the extra 59¢ per Mile – which could get pricey if you plan to do lots of driving around. But if you're facing steep rental fees elsewhere this might be a good option to consider.
Rent Through Your Employer's Travel Company
Reader Kelly sent in this great tip that saved her a ton:
Another suggestion is to check booking through your employer’s travel company. I had to move a rental up a week and the change added $1200 to my rental. I was able to book a personal rate through my employer‘s provider for within $50 of my original rental. Many employers have guaranteed a certain amount of business to the travel provider and with business travel down, they pass along their contracted rate to employees for personal rentals. Another huge bonus, my rental came with the full insurance coverage.
Try Autoslash for More Discounts
Autoslash is similar to Priceline, Expedia, etc… in that they compare quotes between car different car companies. The difference is – they ask you up front about every type of membership you have, what credit card you use, what frequent flyer program you are part of etc… so they can find you any hidden discounts when they do their search.
To get a car rental deal:
- Head over here and enter your pickup/dropoff location and dates/times
- They will also ask you a series of questions to see what extra discounts they can offer you.
Examples of questions they will ask you:
– Which of these credit cards do you have?
– Which memberships do you have (AAA, AARP, etc).
– Are you a part of a frequent flyer program?
– Are you a member of any warehouse clubs?
- Enter your email – and they'll email once they've found the best deal.
Here's a sample quote:
One PPP Team Member was able to get a quote for only $217 for a 3-day rental – including all fees and taxes. She chose the LEAST expensive option – which is a bit of a gamble as it's “Supplier's Choice”.
Not only can you use Autoslash to find you a deal on a car rental, but they can also find you better deal on your current rental car you've already booked!
- Enter your car rental company and your confirmation number.
- Once you do this, you will be notified when they find a better cost for your car rental.
Here are more deals sites you might want to check for cheap car rentals:
Take Advantage of Pay Now
While researching for this post – I went to several car rental agencies' sites and noticed a Pay Now option that can save you money. The only thing I would caution against here – don't Prey-Pay unless your plans are 100% solid. Because cancelling after prepaying could result in cancellation fees or losing all that payment outright.
- Avis – Save up to 30% with Pay Now
- Budget – Save up to 35% with Pay Now
- Dollar – Save with Pay Now
- Hertz – Pay Now & Save Around 25%
- Thrifty – Save up to 15% OF
…. & Free Loyalty Clubs!
Consider joining the rental agency's Free Loyalty Club to skip lines, get a better car selection, and save money.
I just got back from a trip and the thing I kept thinking was that I WISH I'd joined the Hertz loyalty program for some of the perks I didn't have! Like the loyalty members had their keys out and waiting for them when they arrived – rather than having to wait…
Long Term Car Rental Options
If you’re planning on taking a long term road trip or you need a car for a few months, you may be able to save money with long term rentals.
Sixt is a long term and monthly car rental. You simply go to the website and begin the process of looking for a vehicle. Sixt even has a monthly car subscription, if you spend a lot of time traveling.
Enterprise is a good solution to needing a long term rental because you get a good rate when you book longer.
Enterprise takes it a step further. You can book a long term rental with Enterprise, but you can also sign up for a car subscription. What's this? It's simply is a service that allows you to pay a monthly total, you choose your vehicle, and then insurance, roadside assistance, and maintenance are included.
Additional Tips for Saving Money on Summer Car Rentals
1 . Book in advance – then check for price drops closer to trip time and Cancel/Re-book at the lower rate.
This can save you hundreds – and is a great way to secure a vehicle early but also take advantage of a possible last minute deal. Although some of us prefer to book last minute, it’s not always friendly on our wallets.
2. Change the Rental Dates
Try adding a day or two to your trip – it can sometimes trigger a deal that will save you $$ (while you can always drop it off early).
3 . Take Time Looking
Many people go online, search for what they want, and then buy right away. But you'll find the best deal by taking your time looking. Look at each website. Look at the different dates. Take your time and don’t be afraid to look around.
4 . Try something new
I don’t always like to try something new, but sometimes it works out better. If the larger car rental companies are struggling with inventory, then it makes sense to try a new service like Turo or Zip Car.
5 . Check out the airport for better car rental deals
If you’re looking to rent a car and can’t find something from a local company, then head to the airport to look. Airports usually have a higher inventory!
Also you may want to check out these posts: