Renting a vehicle can be a trying experience for those who are not very familiar with the process. However, even those who have rented vehicles before may not be aware of all the options that exist. What follows are 10 simple rental car tips to help you rent the right vehicle at the right price for your needs.
1) Expand Your Search Beyond Recognizable Brand Names
While we are all familiar with rental agencies such as Hertz or Avis, there are many independent agencies that have just as sterling reputation but charge less for renting their vehicles. You can start your search at websites such as CarRentals.com for example and find the same vehicles listed from 15% to 30% or more less than from the nationally recognizable brands. This is especially true when searching for larger or luxury vehicles since many of these rental agencies specialize in carrying a certain fleet of cars.
2) Use Your Negotiation Skills
The old saying “it never hurts to ask” certainly applies to renting a vehicle. You can use your negotiation skills to get the best rate, but quite often you can get a larger vehicle for the same price as a compact model if you ask. This is especially true if you see a large number of a particular type of rental vehicle sitting on the lot. Saying, “I’ll take the minivan for the same rate as the compact car if that’s alright?” can get you a larger vehicle for the same rate. It doesn’t always work, but it never hurts to ask.
3) Avoid Airport Car Rentals
Many states and cities will levy very high fees and user taxes on airport rental agencies while the same agencies located away from the airport will often not have such charges present. This means that you can actually save money by renting from locations nearer to downtown than at the airport. Be sure to check out these rental agencies before booking your trip.
4) Rent When You Need the Vehicle
Another way to save money is only renting the vehicle when you need it for the time that you are staying. Even if you need a rental car each day, returning it each night can actually save you money over keeping it overnight. This will mean that you need to plan your trip accordingly, but knowing when to return your vehicle can save a considerable amount of money.
5) Find Outside Discounts
If the company you work for does not offer a corporate discount, then you should look for other companies that offer discounts when renting vehicles. Many organizations such as the American Automobile Association or AAA offer discounts when renting vehicles. For seniors, being a member of the AARP is also a way to get discounts for renting vehicles as well. Even the airline you fly may offer discounts for renting vehicles from certain companies, so be sure to check out their website for more details.
6) Catch the Weekend Discount
Most car rental agencies charge less for weekend use over weekday use because weekends generally see leisure travelers and the prices are lowered to attract their business. For example, if you are leaving on a Friday morning you may want to extend your car rental to the afternoon to catch the weekend rate which will apply towards your entire rental time. This can lower the base rental rate and save you money even if you return the car early.
As with hotels, rental car agencies often provide discounts for those who prepay and book their rental well in advance. While you will most likely face a higher cancellation fee, that won’t apply if you show up and take the vehicle. Certain websites such as Hotwire.com or Priceline.com for example will offer discounts for travelers who prepay well in advance, so you can get a hotel and car rental for a much cheaper price when you do both at the same time.
8 ) Book Over the Web
In addition to prepaying for your rental, booking over the web can provide you with additional discounts as well. With the advancement of mobile websites, you can often book your rental car and hotel over your mobile device quickly and easily. You’ll want to keep your eye out for any special deals or discounts that you can incorporate as you book your trip. Remember, the more you plan ahead the greater the chances of discovering a discount or getting lower rates than if you wait until the last moment.
9) Find Cheap Gas
In your community, you probably know where the cheapest gas stations are located. However, you can find the cheapest gas stations in any city thanks to websites such as GasBuddy.com or GasPriceWatch.com and save money on your trip. By checking out these internet sites first, you can potentially save several dollars just on a single fill-up.
10) Prepaid Gas
One option that many rental agencies are offering is paying for a tank of upfront before you get the vehicle. While the fees charged for this prepay is often less than what you can find by purchasing it yourself, the problem is that in order to get the maximum value from this service you need to almost fully use up the gas in the tank. Otherwise, it is cheaper just to purchase the gas on your own. If you are planning on doing a lot of driving, then this option may pay off but otherwise, you should probably avoid it.
11) An extra bonus tip! Save yourself money by taking out rental car insurance from a 3rd party like Protect Your Bubble before you get to the Rental Car Counter. This will save you lots of money. Typical insurance prices at the counter are $30-40 a day. With Protect Your Bubble you can get insurance that covers you for up to $35,000 worth of damage for only $7.99 a day. 1 in 6 people who rent a car have an accident, so make sure you get the insurance and save yourself money by purchasing from a 3rd party rather than the Rental Car company.
These 10 car rental tips will help you rent the right vehicle for your needs and perhaps save you some money as well. Generally speaking, it is best to act quickly when you know you are going on a trip and booking your car rental, hotel and travel arrangements in advance because this saves you the most amount of money. By using these rental tips as a guideline, you can better plan your trip and keep within your budget so you can get the most out of your travels.