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How to Get the Best Deal on a Rental Car
Finding the best deal on a rental car can be a frustrating experience with all the different options online. If you are like many travelers, it is common to find yourself clicking around the web for hours chasing the best deal and finding a never-ending set of offers. Some shortcuts can help you cut through all the clutter online and get you on the road quicker.
Know your providers.Not all rental car companies are created equal and it is important to understand how each is unique and how they can serve you best. Things to consider before deciding on a particular car rental company includes prices, car types available, service fees, and locations. All of these can drastically change your car rental experience. Consider which factors are most important to you, if it is price, you may need to sacrifice luxury. If it is convenience, you may need to sacrifice price. If it is car model, you may need to sacrifice convenience of rental location. Certain companies are famous for adhering to particular requests, such as:
- National and Budget allow you to rent one-way while most others charge an extra fee.
- Hertz and Enterprise are known for offering an extra level of service which picks you up before and drops you off after your rental which none of the other companies do. They have many locations in urban and suburban areas, which is extremely convenient for people who do not have a car.
Search through online travel sites.This includes Orbitz, Expedia, Kayak, TravelAuto and others. The major online agencies negotiate with the car rental companies to offer competitive rates. Since they are always competing for your business, you can often get better deals than in person or over the phone. Keep in mind, like airfare, the further in advance you book the more your will save yourself money. Also, try using flexible dates to get better pricing. This also allows you to compare rates of dozens of car companies without much effort, such as:
- Orbitz is particularly good because they allow you to add discount codes to your search and get even lower rates.
- The meta-search engines like Kayak and Mobissimo may help you to figure out which agent or company has the best deal in one-step.
- Travelauto allows car renters to directly interact with the service provider, which helps you in getting any other additional information required. In addition, Travelauto lists the car rental hot deal worldwide to avail better rates and discounts.
Join rental car loyalty programs.By joining Nationals Emerald Club or Alamo’s Quicksilver Club you can earn free days or, as an alternative, points or miles. The car rental's programs sometimes give preferred deals that are not available through other channels. The more you use this card, the more discounts you will get. However, this means you may be missing competitive rates to build up points for later. So consider the average car rental pricing before deciding to commit to a particular car rental company.
Look for discount or referral codes.These discount codes are often available to you through your rewards programs, credit card services, and car associations. Most of them have either discounts, miles or points that you can earn. These companies and associations work hard for you to keep you loyal and they always have a steady stream of new offers, discounts and rewards to save you money. Often times they make a small percentage on the deals you take through them so they are always incentivized to negotiate good deals for you.
- If do not want to go to these sites individually, DealMine.com has many of them searchable all in one site so you can compare the best deal for you based on where you belong.
- American Express, for example, will cover the insurance on any car you rent. This means you don't need to buy insurance through your car rental company. They also offer deals for customers through their rewards programs.
What's the best day of week to rent a car?
- Like airfare pricing – prices change depending on car availability, the popularity of the location and other factors. Car rental companies adjust their pricing on a sometimes minute-by-minute basis to remain competitive with other companies.
- Most companies will tell you that the longer you keep your vehicle, the better per day price you’ll get. Keep in mind that the price per day is relative.
- New York City residents are often excluded from many discounts and deals when renting in Manhattan. To find the best deals in the area, consider renting out of the surrounding areas in NJ, CT or NY including airports where rates may be the best.
- If you need a vehicle for approximately a month, make sure to check the difference between 28 days (4 weeks) and 29-31 days. Sometimes you pay a significant amount more for those extra few days!
- Most times the best rates are available (for cars) on the weekends. (Minivans and SUV's will be higher) Check with your rental company to find out what qualifies as a weekend rental. If the rental company starts their weekend rates at noon, you’ll pay a lot more if you want to pick it up at 10am!
- Always fill the gas tank yourself. If you prepay for gas, they'll charge you for a full tank even if it doesn't need it.
- When you see a great rate for the vehicle you want –RESERVE IT RIGHT AWAY– it may not be available later! Unless the vehicle has cancellation or no-show policy, you can cancel at any time, without penalty.
- If you don't get the rental companies insurance, you'll be responsible for all damage costs immediately, even if your insurance company is covering it. Fault doesn't matter in this case, to them, damage is damage and all damage is your responsibility.
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