Are you taking a vacation soon? Planning to rent a car? Try this easy 5-minute car rental hack!
Hi there! It’s Bryn, Collin’s sister and sidekick.
My family was headed out on a vacation recently, and we needed to rent a car. As many of you know, a family vacation adds up very quickly once you factor in lodging, airfare, and food, so I’m always looking for ways to save.
This rental car tip was suggested to me by my father-in-law. And even better – the tip worked like a charm!
1. Find a discounted rental car company or program.
Get the most bang for your buck by signing up for a Car Rental Rewards Program like Hertz Gold Plus Rewards or Avis Preferred. OR find out if a company you belong to offers special rental car discounts like Costco, USAA, Triple AAA, or AARP.
2. Book your initial reservation.
Sign in with your chosen rental car partner company site and search for your car – I’m a Costco member so I headed to Costco.com to search for my car.
Choose the preferred car size at the lowest price available and book your initial reservation. You should not be required to enter any sort of payment information to hold the reservation. Also be sure to read the terms to make sure you can cancel at any time – this is important!
3. Make a calendar reminder to search every day.
Every day, log back into the site where you initially made your car rental reservation and perform the same search. You will notice the price will fluctuate either up or down.
If you notice the price drops, book the new reservation at the lower price and then cancel your older reservation at the higher price. Do this every day and you may suddenly see a significant drop in cost! See my screenshots below as an example:
1st Search on March 8th = $393.95
4th Search on March 11th = $390.28
8th Search on March 15th = $384.09
12th Search on March 19th = $224.12 😱💃🏼🎉
My car rental reservation dropped from $393.95 to $224.12! That’s a savings of $169 for the same car during the same time frame!
It literally took me under 60 seconds each day to log into Costco.com and search for the rental car, and it totally paid off! Now my family can use the $169 savings to splurge on something else fun on our trip!
Some other great ways to save on your car rental:
Check your credit card rewards.
Hip2Save readers have said they’ve been able to score discounted car rentals using Chase Ultimate Rewards or other rewards program through their credit card providers!
Make sure you fill the tank before returning.
If you bring back a car that needs gas, you might get hit with 2x the normal price for gas and additional fees.
Compare equipment rental fees to the purchase price.
Sometimes the rental cost of GPS units or baby seats can cost MORE than the price of just purchasing these items yourself, depending on the length of your rental. You can sell these items on eBay if you don’t need them after your trip.
Play around with different rental time frames.
If your schedule is a little flexible, change the length of your rental time. Sometimes keeping the car a day or two longer will trigger a deal for a specific number of days, resulting in a lower overall price!
Document any initial damage inside and outside the car.
Give the car a full inspection before and after getting in, and be sure to take photos and mention any damage to the rental car employees. Repair fees can get outrageous if the damage is blamed on your use!
Do you have any other rental car savings tips to share?