6 Ways to Save Money With Car Rentals

6 Ways to Save Money With Car Rentals October 6, 2011

If you’ve ever rented a car, you know how expensive it can be.  It’s not uncommon to pay upwards of $250 to use a rental car for 4-5 days.  I’ve used a rental car at least a dozen times this year for work and noticed a few extra ways to save while renting a car.

1. Comparison shop, then Priceline It

I like certain brand for rental cars because some are just easier to deal with.  But at the end of the day, we’re talking about the same car and if one place can get it to me 25% cheaper than another rental place, I’m going with the cheaper route.

First, I check the prices on Orbitz or Expedia.  Once I find the cheapest rate and cheapest company, I’ll head over to Priceline.  With the lowest price in hand (let’s say $40 a day) I’ll punch in the numbers at Priceline and request a rate of $25.  The worst thing they can do is reject my bid.  If Priceline rejects my bid, I’ll simply increase my price by $5 a day and keep trying.  If they accept the bid, my credit card will be charged automatically, so be ready to commit when you put in your bid.

2. Don’t forget AAA or AARP

If you didn’t have the option to add your AAA number to the rental reservation online, be sure to tell the attendant at the counter.  Members of AARP and other organizations can also get discounts, so ask the rental place which membership discounts they have.

3. Skip the GPS

If you travel enough, consider buying the TOM TOM app (for iPhones) and TOM TOM iPhone holder/charger/speaker.  It’s not the cheapest setup (a little over $125 for both) but it pays for itself after a few rentals.

4. Double Check for Unlimited Mileage

It’s not necessarily a saving up front, but if you don’t have unlimited mileage, the rental place can really hit you hard with fees.  Recheck your contract and make sure it includes unlimited mileage.

5.  Fill it Yourself

This is obvious, but worth mentioning.  Never prepay for gas and never return a car on empty.  They’ll upcharge you on the gas and with gas prices already high, you don’t need to pay any more for fuel!

6. Book Early and use Coupons

Yes, car rental coupons exist.  Do a quick search and book your rental early.  My wife and I snagged a rental deal for less than $20 a day because we booked early and used a discount promo.

Have you used a rental car lately?  What did you pay?  OR What would you pay if you had to rent a car soon.

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  • Pingback: 6 Ways to Save Money With Car Rentals | Rent A Car Corfu()

  • Great tips. I would also add NOT to sign up for the insurance. My wife agreed to insurance without knowing it was unnecessary for us. Most insurance already covers it and if not, your credit cards may cover it.

    • Tim

      I’m with you here – some rental places really put the pressure on you for the insurance, but it’s not the best thing in my opinion.

  • I rent cars about 20 times a year. One thing that bothers me most is the amount of taxes and fees that are added to the cost of the car rental.

    I have also used Priceline after checking other travel search sites, and I also bring my own GPS with me on every trip. I do use my iPhone map app as much as I can, but I go to a lot of remote areas (Indian Reservations) where I can’t always get a cell signal.

    I’ve joined the “frequent customer” program of a few car rental companies, which gives me discounts and free rental day from time to time.

    I’ve also found that Sam’s Club and Costco offer discount codes for several car rental companies (and hotels too).

    • Tim

      Sam’s Club and Costco car rental discounts are great for those who have access to these stores. Unfortunately, my town doesn’t have either, so It’s a no-win for me.

  • We are not sure about point 3 above, because each car rental company deliberately put the gps which one goal is for security reason..

  • Car Hire Tips

    Hi Tim! This is great tips for hire a car for our trips. We’ll visit you for read more tips from you about car rentals.

  • Bella cruse

    Hi Tim

    Nice read! You have shared helpful tips and suggestions for car hire. If you traveling through abroad then it essential to book a car in advance as hiring a car on the spot can be a bit money consuming so always try to hire it at prior. Always check for the services and reviews for the car rental company on the internet before hire as it can help you a lot in choosing the correct car hiring company.

    Reference: – http://www.dan-dooley.ie/car-rental-hire-belfast-city-airport.htm

  • Nice article Tim, we can save some money by booking in advance for our rental service in our foreign tour. And I also love the idea of fill it yourself, by doing this we can save some bucks. Thanks a lot for those tips.