You have the destination set and you have decided on a “stay-cation,” or have finally decided to see the Midwest. You want to save wear and tear on your own car, or just want to rent a vehicle that gets good gas mileage and have decided to go the rent-a-car route. There are some things to look at for when renting a car to get the best deal, so let’s get to the tips.
1. Do your research
The best deal isn’t going to find itself, so go out, and look for it. There are great travel sites that will notify you of deals, and checking around at Travelocity can pay off. Check around at Alamo rental and Hertz also. Sometimes a travel agent has access to auto rentals that aren’t available through the internet, and giving your local car rental place could lead to some negotiating. Sometimes agents that work at rental places have the authority to work a deal, so try it.
2. Do your planning
If you know how far you are going, how long you will be gone, and can plan properly; you can find great deals as well. If you have an estimate of mileage, when you will need the vehicle, and when and where you’ll be dropping it off, you will be able to get a better deal. If you reserve your car enough in advance, which can save you money, and once you have your plan, put down your money in advance to save a few dollars.
3. Bypass the insurance
That insurance upgrade the rental company is offering may seem like a great idea, but you may be just paying for the same thing twice. Before deciding on insurance, call your current insurance company and make sure that you aren’t covered already while driving the rental car. Your credit card may cover you in certain situations, so do your homework.
4. Nights and weekends
Cell phone companies aren’t the only companies that offer better rates on the weekend or during the week. Typically, if you rent for extended periods of time, and during the weekend, you get a much better deal. Try planning your trip for off-peak, or times of the year when the highways aren’t clogged with drivers. Renting a car during Labor Day or Fourth of July isn’t the best time for good deals.
5. Stay small
Unless it is necessary, stay with an economical vehicle. Upgrading to an SUV or van is a major selling strategy for car companies and not only is the insurance higher, but the rates are as well, and the gas mileage could be half as efficient. Unless you need that gas guzzling Explorer, go with the economy car.
6. Stay local
Airports charge the proverbial arm and a leg for their services. Just like airports charge $6.00 for a soda because they can, they’ll charge you at the airport more because they know that you need a vehicle and are at their mercy. Sometimes the car rental spots that are far away from airports offer the best deals because of the lack of business.
7. Check for discounts
Companies like AARP and AAA and others offer discounts when you are a member. Check to see if you can sign up for deals with rental companies and your credit card company to further save.
8. Get gas buddy
More along the lines of doing your research, checking with gasbuddy.com can save you big times. Gas stations away from the airport and a few miles off the highways can offer up to 20 cents per gallon savings.
9. Stay away from pre-paid gas
While renting, companies offer pre-paid gas as an incentive and luxury, and the rates can be scary. Stay with the previous advice and let your research and hard work pay off.
10. Check city rates versus county
I know, it is more research, but sometimes cities have high taxes on rental cars, and a little bit more research of the surrounding area not only lands you cheaper gas, but also perhaps a cheaper rental car in a nearby town or county.