Follow These Tips for Finding Inexpensive Rental Cars

car-hireWhen you’re planning a trip, you want to save your money for the fun stuff, not paying for a rental car. Keep in mind that when we say “cheaper” we’re not suggesting unsafe or poorly maintained or substandard rental car services. Rather, we’re talking about knowing your options and getting more bang for your buck when it comes to finding and engaging the services of a car rental company.

#1: Plan ahead. Most major car rental companies (Avis, Hertz, National, Sixt) offer lower rates or discounts if you reserve a rental car, as well as pay, in advance.

#2: Compare rates. You’ll find that most car rental companies offer special rates, depending on the season, the weekday, and weekend. For example, major rental car companies offer special weekend rates, so planning your travel itinerary to encompass at least one or two weekends can help save money.

#3: Compare prices of car rental agencies in your destination and check the Internet for possible discounts, coupons, or perks for renting cars from one company over another. A wide variety of coupons and discounts are available online from car rental companies around the world. Simply print out the coupon and take it with you to the rental car agency or enter the promotional code into the designated area when reserving a vehicle.

#4: Depending on your rental history with major car rental brands or even local car rental agencies (and depending on season), you may be eligible for an upgrade with no extra cost to you. For example, see if you can upgrade from a compact to a midsize based on the season, your geographical location, and the willingness of the car rental agency to keep their customers happy.

#5: Many car rental agencies, both major and local, have restrictions on the age of individuals renting a car. In many countries including the United States, drivers must be at least 25 years of age to rent a vehicle. For this reason, rent a car in the name of the oldest person in your traveling party so that you are not required to pay underage surcharges for younger drivers.

#6: List only one person as the primary driver of the vehicle. The more drivers you add, the higher your rental costs will be.

#7: Check the fine print and make sure that you’re not being charged for extras that you don’t need. For example, if you arrive at the car rental agency with proof of insurance, you might not need the insurance that’s associated with the rental car. However, we do advise caution about declining insurance for rental cars, especially if you’re driving in a foreign country.

#8: After you’ve narrowed down your possible list of car rental agencies in your destination, visit their online website for special coupons, discounts, or offers that may not have been available from other sources.

#9: Return your rental car in the same condition as you rented it. Return the car on time to avoid additional fees charged for a late return. Also check the fuel requirements of the vehicle. Note the amount of fuel in the car upon rental and make sure you understand what is required regarding fuel levels when you return the car to the rental lot.

#10: Check out popular travel websites such as Travelocity, Kayak, Orbitz, and Cheap Tickets and take advantage of “bundling” rates. For example, purchasing an airline ticket, reserving hotel room, and engaging car rental services are often cheaper when bundled together than when purchased or planned separately.

#11: Visit car rental company websites including those belonging to Avis, Hertz, Sixt, and National (and others), to determine if rates listed on their websites for your preferred destination are cheaper than you can find on travel websites or through a general Internet search.

#12: Be prepared to prepay or pay in advance for special deals when booking a car rental.  Take advantage of your current auto memberships such as those provided by the American Automobile Association (AAA) when it comes to such discounts and preferred rental rates.

#13: Many travelers seeking rental cars domestically and abroad naturally arrive in airports. In some cases, renting from the airport may cost a bit more. Determine whether shuttle services provided either by the airport or by major car rental companies offer transportation to or from an airport so that you can book directly from a physical car rental location.

#14: Hotwire is a major and popular travel provider for car rental, hotel, and airline services. Be advised in this case that while you’re saving quite a bit on car rental rates, you will be ineligible for any refunds if your travel plans change.

#15: Be willing to bid on cheaper rental car rates on websites like Using such sites is similar to the conditions offered by Hotwire.

When looking for the cheapest rental car, shop around, compare rates, and look for coupons and discounts or for special perks depending on your mode of travel.

Independent Traveler:

USA Today:


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