The least glamorous part of a trip is usually renting a car unless you’re splashing out on a convertible or another flashy vehicle.
Why spend a fortune on something that the majority of travelers only need a set of wheels for? You can save a tonne of money on your next rental by using the following car rental tips.
Here Are Some Of The Best Rental Car Hacks:
Use group memberships to your advantage
Do you belong to an organization like AAA, AARP, Costco, BJ’s, or USAA? If so, you most likely qualify for discounted rates on car rentals.
Hertz offers special rates for AAA members, while partnerships with Avis, Budget, Payless, and Zipcar are listed in the AARP’s list of member benefits.
For AAA members between the ages of 18 and 24 Hertz will also waive the young driver fee. You can also look for car rental discounts from their affiliates on the search engines offered by Costco, BJ’s, and USAA.
Remember that group memberships are just one type of discount you could receive; occasionally, even more, generous deals are available. The likelihood is that you won’t be able to combine both, so don’t just settle for your preferred group rate without looking around.
After making a reservation, you can still get a better rate
You’re pretty much screwed if you book a nonrefundable flight and later discover a cheaper fare, but that’s not the case when renting a car.
In order to give you the flexibility to cancel or change your reservation later if you find a better deal, the majority of car rental companies let you reserve a car without making a payment in advance.
After making your reservation, AutoSlash will do the comparison shopping for you if you’d rather not spend the time.
AutoSlash will let you know when a lower rate becomes available. You can make your initial reservation through the website or enter your current reservation code from the car rental company.
Verify Prices on Several Iterations of the Car Rental Company’s Website
Try the local website of the car rental agency as well as the one from your home country when renting in a foreign country. For instance, I compared the costs of a three-day car rental in Glasgow, Scotland, on Alamo.com and Alamo.co.uk, the company’s American and British websites, respectively (the U.K. site).
For a small car with a manual transmission, the U.S. website quoted me a price of $111.71, while Alamo.co.uk offered a price of 65.88 GBP or just $80.21 at the current exchange rate—a savings of almost 30%.
First, if your credit card charges you a fee for paying in a foreign currency, the price difference may be completely canceled out if it is very slight.
Second, using this car rental hack when trying to make a reservation on a website in a language you don’t know can be challenging. Before making a reservation, double-check that you understand the terms and conditions because Google Translate and other machine translation tools aren’t always accurate.
Look for promotional codes
Check the car rental company’s website for coupons you can use to save money on your rental before confirming your reservation. You can also search Google for “[car rental company name] coupon code.” Codes that can help you save up to 25% or 30% are frequently listed on websites like RetailMeNot and SlickDeals.
One-Way Rentals are Free
Rental companies frequently charge a fee to cover the cost of returning the vehicle to its original location, making one-way car rentals notoriously expensive. What if, however, driving the business where it needs to go actually benefits it?
The idea behind Transfercar is that if you’re willing to drive, you can get a car or camper for extremely low prices—or even for nothing. Transfercar lists vehicles that need to be moved from one location to another.
As an illustration, Transfercar may have a compact campervan with an automatic transmission that needs to be driven from Perth to Broome within the upcoming few weeks. For as long as eight days, you could drive it for no charge (insurance included) in order to assist them in getting the campervan back to its proper location.
As a Package, Reserve Your Car
Combining your car rental with your flight and/or hotel can frequently result in significant savings. For instance, I used Expedia to estimate the cost of a weeklong trip from New York City to San Diego and discovered that the flight would cost $495.30 per person and the rental car would cost $267, or $133.50 per person.
Booking a flight and a car separately will cost you $628.80 per person. However, when I tried a flight + car combo, the price was only $461.70 per person—less than the price of the flight alone.
Before purchasing insurance, check the benefits of your credit card
Are you actually in need of the expensive insurance that the rental car agent is trying to sell you? Perhaps not. As long as you pay for your rental car with that card, many credit cards provide specific types of rental car insurance.
To find out what insurance you already have, check the terms and conditions of your credit card or give the credit card company a call. Your home auto insurance policy may also provide coverage for you.
While having your car inspected, take pictures or videos of it
Take a few pictures or even a video of any dents or scratches while taking a first look around the rental car with your phone.
However, it does provide you with documentation in case your rental company tries to bill you after the fact for damages you didn’t cause. It should be noted that doing this doesn’t replace reporting these problems to a staff member of the rental company as soon as you notice them.
Send the images via text to someone to provide a simple time stamp demonstrating that the dings and scratches existed at the time of rental.
Save Money on Gas
Most rental car agencies want you to return the car with a full tank, but they frequently give you the choice of prepaying for gas. This is almost always a bad deal.
Instead, use a mobile app like GasBuddy to locate the cheapest station in the area and fill the tank yourself. You should be aware that gas stations close to the airport are frequently quite expensive; you’re usually better off filling up about 10 miles away.
Entrance to a loyalty program
Even if you don’t rent a car often, joining the loyalty program of your preferred rental company will give you access to special deals and the ability to skip the line at the rental counter.
The majority of these programs have affiliations with hotels and airlines, so you can use the points from your rentals to offset future travel expenses.