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How Do YOU Save On Car Rentals?

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Rental Car

Check out this reader email from Mandy…

I’d love to see a deal come through on rental cars. Our family car has a Honda Accord and with a family of 5 and no towing capabilities or roof rack, beach and camping trips are hard. I’ve checked Orbitz and Priceline. The price looks okay (not great) for a week’s rental until all the fees are added at the end. Then it’s not do-able for us. Do you know of any deals or tricks?

Please share YOUR car rental tips below!

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Comments 98

  1. Amanda

    I know people like to use websites that will supposedly save money like Priceline and Orbitz when they’re booking hotels and other things like that, but the hotel and rental companies make such a poor margin through those sites that they’re not willing to work with you on things like free upgrades. And I found that I really don’t get that much savings through there when I can just get a pretty decent savings by booking directly with the hotel or car rental company and the using my AAA discount. Then, when I go to pick up my car or arrive at the hotel, that company knew that because I wanted to work with THEM, and I’m usually able to score an upgrade, just by being polite. For example, I got a serious upgrade when we rented a mini van from Enterprise last year. We booked directly through them, got our AAA discount, and when we arrived the guy mentioned they had a much nicer model in the lot that we could have if we wanted to at the same price. Same with a reservation I had with the Hilton last year. It’s not a guarantee, it’s just my experience.
    And yes, depending on what credit cards you’re using to book and what your private insurance is you usually don’t need to pay for insurance through the car rental company. Just check it out ahead of time.

  2. Tarri

    I am a Costco member and I have found good prices on rental vehicles there.

  3. Julie B.

    Ebates.com then
    Carrentals.com
    Check daily, no money for reservations

  4. Kerry Audrey

    Costco has good deals if you book on the costco.com site. You can also go directly to the car rental site , ex: budget.com and use the coupon codes from costco to get a better deal. Never go through a second party like Priceline. If you compare the two they really don’t save you money at all. Always go direct when renting a car or a room. I check for the best rates for two months prior to my rental, sometimes I get a good deal in advance sometimes I get a good deal the week before, just keep checking ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Joyce

    If you’re military, USAA is the best.

  6. Joanie

    I rent cars all the time when I go away. I always use Priceline! Use the bidding feature…. I’ve gotten car rentals for as low as $11 a day out the door!

  7. Gail Alford

    I usually start with carrentals.com, they usually have a good price and you can reserve/hold a car to start with that is easy to cancel. Then keep checking since there are sometimes specials and you can rebook even a few days before. Most of the time they have one of the better prices, but also check direct through Enterprise (walk in and ask for deals) and look at all of the sites online. I couldn’t find better than $320/week for a full size car for Boston, but a week before the trip looked at Alamo and found a deal on the “last minute specials” for $240, which included all fees and taxes. Also, move your pick up/drop off time by a few hours to check the prices, sometimes that makes a big difference. Check on different days of the week too, the prices fluctuate quite a bit based on when you look..

  8. Michelle

    If you rent and pickup from the airport, you cant leave your car there. We have a Hertz nearby, and they let you leave your car. Also, when you rent online, you can check each discount to see which is the best. AAA is always the best for me

  9. MJT in KS

    FOX Car rentals have always been best (&cheapest) for us, especially at the airport!

  10. lori

    My favorite is Enterprise, go to their website and create a membership, they offer discounts for members. In February for a 5 day rental I paid less than 200 for a SUV. They also have weekend offers, and coupons on their website regularly. I just checked into getting a car for Saturday-Monday and its going to be around 65 for a bigger car (I forget the class). Plus they seem to be the only ones who will allow me to rent without a credit card, since I don’t carry them.

  11. LAURA WYATT

    Go to your rental lot and check availability on bigger rentals. Make sure there is some. Make the reservation for the smallest rental there is. Go to pick up your rental, and offer a cash tip to upgrade. Gift cards, homemade baked goods, drinks, etc work for this too.
    Also- sometimes you dont need the tip, espically if you live in a small town. The small cars go fast anyways.

  12. Maria

    We take advantage of our credit card offers. With Chase Sapphire we scored a week and a half for $92.00. Awesome!!

    • Melanie

      I never thought to book through Chase but I got 14 days from Denver for $600! All of the other sites I checked were $1,300+ for 14 days for a mini van. Your tip saved me a ton – THANKS!!!!

  13. Grace

    Ive you live near an airport, check for deals there. go to airportcarrentals.com, in Chicago, I saw cars for as cheap as $5 a day!
    rented a Toyota Camry for a road trip at $17 a day

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