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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. Deanna Z

    Don’t do a rental that you pick up from an airport. Usually the rental companies have others in town and it is usually way cheaper.

    • Just Me

      Really. I find the airport is half the price of in town.

    • Amy L

      The airport taxes can be as much as 30-40% of the rental bill. Unfortunately there isn’t much the rental car companies can do about the taxes. I’ve worked for Enterprise for over 15 years.

      • alexandra

        I have rented from Enterprise for years. Just wondering exactly how to get best price…. Usaa, AARP and also AAA member. Also, I could rent from 2 weeks to 4 weeks/month.
        How do you suggest going about getting best deal. Which group gets biggest discount….USAA, AARP OR AAA??
        Any way to combine?

  2. Preetha

    Costco Car Rentals have the best price so far.

    • CO Mama

      Totally agree, we have always found they’re the best price!

    • Shirley Yeo

      I go on a business trip for our family business every year and Costco is the best deal! 🙂

    • Wren

      Yep, we just rented through Costco recently too.

  3. Kelly

    Costco travel has great rates on rental cars and depending on who you pick there are extra rewards for members.

    • Marie

      If you rent through Costco, can you pick the car up at the airport?

      • Judy

        Yes we rent from Costco all the time. You just put in the airport code to rent from the airport.

    • Jennifer

      Has anyone ever gone on a Costco vacation before? I’m thinking about booking one.

      • Liz

        Yes! Went took on to Hawaii. The package was a great deal and we loved the resort

  4. C

    We’ll be renting a car for the first time in 10 years next year when we go to Universal and Disney. I’d love to get some tips!

    • Kelly

      Are you doing Disney world or Disneyland? If you’re doing Disney world and if you’re flying into Orlando, Disney has a free shuttle service from the airport to your hotel (assuming you are staying at a Disney hotel). Then they have free buses to take to each park. As far as universal, we just took an Uber car to and from universal, it cost a lot less than a rental car!

      • C

        Disneyworld 🙂 We usually use Magical Express, but we are staying at Universal property the first 2 days, so the rental car makes sense for us this time.

        • Anna

          Parking is CRAZY expensive at Disney World. Plus there are several tolls in Orlando. I’d avoid driving if at all possible

          • C

            We will drop the car at the TTC before we check into our Disney hotel. We only use Disney transportation while we stay on property.

  5. Deanna Z

    I have also gotten some good deals through the travel section of SAMs club.

  6. Arielle

    If your USAA they get discounts through the website

  7. Colene

    Turo.com I have used it many times. It’s peer-to-peer car rentals that are cheap, come with insurance, and really.easy.to use.

    • Autumn

      Awesome!!! I rent out my 2 vans on Turo. We use them when going anywhere else

  8. MrsFelix1004

    Check out your insurance company. I feel like I have said this a few time but I promise it saves money. USAA offers discounts on rental cars, flights, hotels, resorts, and cruises. I recently saved $75 from renting a car through USSA. Not to mention the resort I booked for our stay in Disney. We saved almost $350. If you don’t have an option to save through your insurance company then try renting in person because sometimes they will give you upgrades or discounts not posted to meet their quotas for the day.

  9. Emily

    We always seem to get really great deals through hotwire

    • kari

      I would totally agree with this! I always get better prices there!

  10. Molly

    Check with your car insurance. Ours covers Rentals.

    • Kelli

      With your car insurance it does not cover the cost of your rental car for leisure purposes it only covers the cost of a rental if your are in a covered accident.

    • Anna

      She might have meant the insurance covers you while driving a rental so you don’t have to purchase extra insurance. This varies by the state your auto policy was issued in…and sometimes there are still benefits to purchasing a rental policy

  11. Kathy

    I just always search the Internet for coupon codes or BCD codes to use, you have to spend a little time applying them to see which one is best but I usually have good luck!

  12. Sarah W.

    I’m trying to find a rental van that can fit 9. We’re driving from MS to NY for a family reunion and it would be a lot easier if we could all fit in one vehicle. Every rental place I’ve checked has passenger vans but not in my area, not even New Orleans or Mobile, Al. Does anyone know any other options?

    • LauraL

      Did you check local enterprise locations? They usually have mini vans/passenger vans. If you don’t see one on-line call and talk to your local enterprise manager.

      • Amy L

        I’ve worked for Enterprise for over 15 years. I do know that almost all of the 15 passenger vans are on a recall and are grounded so the availability is really slim.

  13. N

    I live in Texas. If you rent from the airport then you don’t have to pay a lot of the extra fees or taxes. I usually double dip and order thru costco or sams club travel.

  14. Katie

    I haven’t done it yet, but if I use my Discover card for car rental, insurance is covered by Discover.

    • LauraL

      Actually all visas (except the prepaid card type) will cover your insurance deductible. Your private policy usually covers the car rental.

      You need a valid policy on your own car and you need to book it and pay for it with the credit card. Insurance companies love fine print and exclusions so give them a call before you leave to verify you will be covered.

      Well worth the effort because it can save 10-25 a day.

    • Sarah

      This applies to most major credit cards, including Amex!

      • Amy L

        Every card is different and some require that you pay for the damages up front (if there are any) and they will reimburse you. Some also do not cover damage to tires or wheels. Always double check. I’ve had 15 years experience in the rental car business.

  15. Cori

    I used carrentalexpress.com and ended up finding a rental for more than $100 cheaper than what I found on Expedia and kayak.

  16. april

    I used to use “Rent A Wreck”. Theirs cars are a little older, but still in great condition, and a LOT cheaper!

  17. Teachthis

    Thanks for the help. I have been checking Denver and cars are renting for $66 a day which is horrible.

    • M.

      Oh no! We need a rental in Denver for 2 weeks in August. I haven’t checked prices yet but I wasn’t expecting to pay that much!

      • Jill

        I need to rent a car from the Denver airport this summer. I better check on rates too. What is a good price to pay per day?

    • Katie

      We just got back from Denver. Do not rent from EZ rent a car. Hidden fees, enormous deposit hold, extra charge for additional drivers, toll pass charges and theven car was dirty inside and out and empty tank. We went back in to complain about car being dirty and empty. The guy said they ran out of gas, even though I had just signed a contract stating the gas was full and said not to worry about the cleanliness of the car, because we just get it dirty again. Drove to the nearest gas station, found the tag was expired, drove back to rental company, to be told it was OK, there was a grace period. It gets better. .. we drove around Denver, surrounding areas, and to Colarado Springs with my elderly, conservative parents and my two little ones 1 and 3. LO dropped toy on floor of car, my husband finds a joint in the car!! So much for not cleaning the car. I called company they never picked up phone or responded to my messages. Emailed and phoned corporate, never heard back from them. Thankfully the manager made it ok upon rental return. Long story short, do not rent from EZ or Advantage in Denver. They are the same place.

      • Jill

        Thanks for the warning. I’ll stay away from EZ rent a car this summer.

  18. G

    I just rented last month. Costco rates were the best.

  19. Kelly

    I go through Priceline and do the “name your price” for rental cars and I usually get a good deal that way. Plus I go through ebates so I get a little cash back on it as well!

    • Anna

      We’ve done this as well and have had prices as low as $11 day. The taxes and fees do add up though

  20. Liz

    AARP Member Advantages card offers 10% off car rentals! I also get discounts on hotels.

  21. jana

    We picked up a Chevy Tahoe yesterday for almost a week. Paid 416 at the airport. Go through autoslash.com! They are awesome!

  22. Adriaddiemom

    Costco

  23. Dana

    Priceline. The last time I was looking at almost 200 for 3 days in a compact I went through Priceline and it was less then 90 total. THEN when I got to the airport to pick up, they had no cars so upgraded us to an suv at no extra charge!! I was praising the Lord!! What a Blessing!!

  24. Trisha

    Enterprise.com usually has pretty cheap cars without having to put in a code (around 200 a week for a full size car) but when I use Budget.com I use this code: U112000 and it takes a ton off. I was able to find a mini van for around $320 for a week.

  25. Madrupps

    Renting for a whole week is usually cheaper than for just a couple days.

    Altering your drop off or pick up time or date can sometimes lower your rate, just like with airline tickets.

    Discounts can be had through AAA or Union Plus, if you or your trip companions are members of a union.

    Also check coupon code sites for discounts.

    Airports tend to be more expensive but not always so still check their rates.

    I’m not sure about if other companies do, but Enterprise has price matched for me.

    I don’t believe I’ve had any fees other than taxes added on but I also don’t take any of their elective services and I usually get the cheapest car they have. They also sometimes have done free upgrades.

    Either I was not charged per mile or they gave a huge mile allotment, can’t remember which but that may have been something special through Union Plus.(I drove about 1500 miles round trip)

    I’m sure most companies prob have similar policies but I’ve only had experience with Enterprise since they were easiest to deal with in my particular situation.

    One other tip: Don’t lose the key! They are hideously expensive to replace especially from another country..

    Source: I drive to Canada in a rental car every couple years, I’m thrifty and no I’m not nor do I know anyone employed by Enterprise…….otherwise I’d get a way better rate! Ha

    • Amy L

      I’ve been employed with Enterprise for over 15 years. Thank you for the kind words. I know in SC, we offered unlimited miles on our rental. A 5 day daily rental rate is almost the same as a weekly rental rate. If you need for 6 days, go ahead and reserve a week.enterprise customer service is the best! That’s our goal-complete satisfaction!

      • Just Me

        Enterprise is cheapest in my small town. I was told after 4 or 5 days the rental is same as a week. Always unlimited miles unless you get the weekend special which is $10 a day but 100mi per day limit. Maybe less miles I haven’t rented in awhile.

  26. Emily

    I’ve used my chase ultimate rewards visa to get good deals in the past, not sure how they are now. I think sams club members can book travel deals thru sams website.

  27. Sarah

    I’ve always had really good luck with Budget car rentals- they always have a coupon code available

  28. Madrupps

    Wow sorry, didn’t realize my entire post above would get run together! I used paragraph breaks, I promise!

  29. Candi

    I use Costco. I have been watching prices and when the price goes down I cancel my original rental and rent the car again at the cheaper rate. I contacted Costco travel dept and they stated there is no cancelation penalty. I started out at $326 for an intermediate car and have since changed my rental and gotten an intermediate SUV for $237. This is for a June Orlando trip. The price was the same for a midsize and full sized car. This is for a 8 day rental.

  30. Blessed

    If you have USAA go through their website and they have some excellent rates for Avis. I am out of town with a rental now and it was less than enterprise, budget, and Hotwire.

  31. Qi

    Comparison shop on costcotravel.com (free for anyone to search prices, but requires a valid costco membership to book – you can ask friend/family to book for you), aaa.com/hertz, hotwire/priceline, autoslash.com

  32. Kristin

    Costco lets you cancel without penalty so when we went to FL we booked at a low rate but when it continued to go lower we continued to re-book it.

  33. Steph B

    Costco travel is awesome. You can reserve at a low rate and then keep watching to reserve at an even lower rate and cancel the first reservation!! Saves us a ton of $$$ and you don’t need to enter any card information to reserve the car!

    • Rita

      Totally agree! Costco rocks. If you book through them the second driver is put on for free! Also, recently used Alamo kiosk in Orlando airport to check in to get the car. No need to wait in long lines. Use the kiosks if available.

      • Steph B

        Sweet, I don’t know about the kiosk sign in?! We just used this company when went to Denver 3 weeks ago and waited in line…
        Thanks for adding I forgot to mention free unlimited miles and free additional driver!

  34. Kfeik8

    Does anyone know the code for Costco at Enterprise? I know you can go through Costco’s web page, but I use to get them cheaper putting in a code directly on Enterprises web page. I just recently lost it 🙁

  35. Erin

    I find Hotwire.com has the best car rental rates and it shows you the price per day with taxes for each type of car. The only thing is that you don’t find out the company until after you reserve your car and submit payment. We typically get hertz through Hotwire.

  36. Judy

    We use Costco and I like Alamo because you get to pick the car. Unlike Budget that assigns the car before you see it most Alamo rental places show you the aisle where your car size is and you pick the car you want.

  37. Autumn

    http://Www.turo.com
    I live in Hawaii, rentals are crazy here. I joined Turo and rent out my 2 minivans 😀 along with providing airport or hotel pick up, free car seats and beach toys . It’s a great company!!

  38. Candace

    AutoSlash.com -> appears sketch, but have used it twice so far with no problems. The system will continue to send you new cheaper prices.

    Costco – you can make a reservation – keep checking, find a cheaper price? Book it and cancel the first reservation! I’ve had mini-vans start at $600 for 10 days and I’ve canceled and re-booked 5 times, got it down to $396 for 10 days!

  39. Crystal

    I have used Sears.com’s partner sites to rent from Avis for great rates. And I agree that sometimes renting for a week is cheaper than just putting in a weekend.

  40. Katherine

    I book travel daily! Use Ebates for car rental!!! Also, hotels.com, after 10 nightly stays you get a night free that is the average of those 10 stays/nights. Enjoy peeps!🐣

  41. Jody

    Be a Costco member, enough said. They have the best rates that I have ever seen. This past year we even got a thank you gift card from Costco.

  42. Heather

    Sign up for a card like you do for frequent flyer miles with a car rental company. Every time you rent you aquire points. They add up to free rental days. We usually get a free rental for a week with all my husband’s points. You will have to pay taxes and insurance fees if any.

  43. MekaRTR

    When I rent from enterprise, I always make the the return time the exact same as the pick up time. A few hrs difference (as in dropping off later than picked up) will make the price go up. Also, I have been quoted diff prices calling to get a quote versus doing it online. And you get 2 percent cash back thru ebates if you book online. Not a member? Join here
    http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?eeid=29935&referrerid=vsDRitRAEZpW%2B0%2Fq4P6Whg%3D%3D

  44. ellen

    Costco has the best rates, but USAA has a good rate plus loss/liability coverage for the 1st $5,000.

  45. Jennie Flores

    Does costco rental comes with insurance? I’m trying to rent but i cant find how to add insurance. not sure about car rentals but traveling to canada this july.

    • JGC

      The insurance option is not available while booking at costco.com so we just do it when we pick up the car. (You can inform the people at the counter or opt for it at the computer kiosk).

  46. Jill w

    I take great pride in saving money on traveling – we are a family of 6 and I love to travel! As stated Costco often has the best rates but I also use my employee discount code and usaa.com to compare- I spend a lot of time searching codes and checking again several times to see if prices drop before the trip- in the end I am always glad I did because the savings can be substantial – you can use retail me not site or just Google discount codes or check for employer discounts if available – have fun!

  47. MJ2002

    Mousesavers.com! The site focuses on Disney trips but also has a huge list od current coupon codes for all the major rental car companies.

  48. LauraL

    If you are arriving very late or leaving early, consider booking the first/last night hotel near the airport and taking the hotel shuttle. This could save a day’s rental and allow you to book at a non-airport locations (which would probably save you taxes). This works great if you have a early morning flight.

  49. Krystallena Blue

    I am very surprised I didnt come across anyone saying zipcar? if you do decide to use them please use my code 🙂 thank you http://s.zip.cr/AS50SJC

  50. Leslie

    Once I decide to go somewhere, I book the best deal I can. You never need to pay right away, you just make a reservation. But car prices change weekly. So then I check once or twice a week, and if I find a better deal, I make a new booking and cancel the old one. Sometimes I save 50% over what I originally booked by doing it that way. You can use many of the tips already shared to find those best deals. But like I already said, keep looking. Sometimes a few minutes of your time might save 20 dollars on your previous reservation.

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