If you have plans to travel and need to pick up a vehicle, shopping for a car rental can be overwhelming. Without planning ahead you can also find yourself paying a premium price for a simple rental.
1. Shop Multiple Locations
Often when you need to rent a car, you are traveling and tend to look for rentals at an airport. The convenience of an airport is not always your best option. A simple search for car rentals in Chicago at the airport vs in the city shows obvious savings opportunities.
When looking at economy-sized cars and pricing out multiple car rental companies, there was a consistent trend that showed savings potential. On average you can save $25 or more per day by renting at a location other than the airport.
Be sure to create a plan when flying. Many major cities have free shuttles or cheap public transit from airports. You can also take an uber which will cost you a bit of money, but you will ultimately save money by shopping at different car rental locations.
2. Look for membership discounts
A membership can come in a variety of forms. You may already have access to discounts on car rentals and not even know it.
Do you happen to be an AAA member? For only $52 a year you get access to a number of benefits including saving money on car rentals through Hertz.
Having a Costco membership is also a quick way to save some extra cash on a rental.
Here is a quick breakdown to show you which memberships apply to which car rental company.
|Membership||Car Rental Company||Discount||Details|
|AAA||Hertz||30% off base rates on weekly and weekend rentals (ends 6/30/19)||Offers are constantly being updated. View the AAA details page for more info.|
|AAA||Hertz||$20 off weekly rates (ends 12/31/19)||Offers are constantly being updated. View the AAA details page for more info.|
|AAA||Hertz||$50 off monthly rates (ends 12/31/19)||Offers are constantly being updated. View the AAA details page for more info.|
|AARP||Avis, Budget, & Payless||30% on base rates at Avis and Budget Rent A Car, 5% on rentals from Payless Car Rental||Discounts are applied via coupon code. Check with AARP for more details.|
|BJs||Hertz||Up to 25% off base rates with CDP# 32796||Offers for the ‘free day for weekly rentals’ and $5 off per day’ end 12/31/19.|
|BJs||Hertz||Free day on weekly rentals with a 7-day minimum (for intermediate and larger cars only)||Offers for the ‘free day for weekly rentals’ and $5 off per day’ end 12/31/19.|
|BJs||Hertz||$5 off per day for up to 3 days (2-day minimum)||Offers for the ‘free day for weekly rentals’ and $5 off per day’ end 12/31/19.|
|BJs||Dollar and Payless||Exclusive deals on all car rentals||Savings depend on the location and the type of car you are renting.|
|BJs||Enterprise and Alamo||One free car class upgrade||Compact through standard sizes only|
|BJs||Avis, Budget, and National||Discounts vary for each company||Ask an associate prior to booking. See more.|
|USAA||Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz||Discounts vary for each company||You can also call to request car rental coupons. See more.|
3. Employee and Alumni Discounts
One of the perks of being hired by a great company is the employee discounts you can receive. Unfortunately, many people forget or simply ignore this benefit.
The best way to see if you have available discounts for car rentals is to ask your employer.
Typically your HR department will have some information on all of the discounts that are available to you. You might already know where to find this.
There are even some websites that allow you to run a quick scan of what your employer may offer as a discount. CorporateShopping.com is a good place to start.
If you are still uncertain if there are any discounts made available by your employer, simply ask a representative at the car rental company. They will surely be able to help you explore your discount options.
Likewise, you may also have access to car rental discounts through an alumni association that you are part of, like from your former college or other group membership. Browse online to see what offers are available to you based on schools you attended or other associations you belong to.
4. Skip the upsells
Car rental companies definitely know how to upsell their customers. Insurance GPS devices and car upgrades all fall into this category.
More often than not you do not need these upgrades.
You current car insurance likely covers you for rentals (and sometimes even the credit card you pay with may cover you as well – look into the benefits that your credit cards provide). The fear of being slapped with a large bill should you have some sort of accident can really open up people’s wallets.
When you are put on the spot and asked if you need it, if you are uninformed you may be forking over cash that you don’t need to spend. The best way to be sure is to call your auto insurance provider ahead of time to see what your options are.
If you don’t have insurance, then you probably want to add it to your rental. Same goes for driving overseas.
Don’t spend money on a GPS device. Unless you are still sporting your Razor phone from 2005, you already have a highly advanced GPS device in your pocket. Why waste the extra $15 a day?
Of course, if you are overseas or do not have access to a smartphone, you can always plan ahead and print out directions. Does Mapquest ring a bell?
5. Join Honey
Honey is a free chrome extension tool that automatically looks for discounts. All you have to do is have the extension downloaded and activated.
After you have found a car rental that makes sense for you, simply let Honey do the work for you.
If there are any coupons available, Honey will automatically aggregate them for you to try during checkout.
There is no guarantee that you will be able to use one, but it is definitely worth a try.
6. Avoid the Age Requirements
If you are under 25 you can be hit with some extra fees that feel a bit discriminatory. Luckily there are some ways you can get around this.
There are several memberships that allow you to get around the fees. The AAA membership mentioned above can get you around the fees if you are to choose Hertz for drivers 20-24 years old.
For Enterprise customers, a USAA membership will allow you to avoid the under 25 fee for drivers from 18-24.
Try not to book under your name. If there are others in the group over 25 years old, ask them if they would be willing to rent the car in their name. If everyone is splitting the cost, it will benefit everyone.
Discover other key tips for renting cars under 25.
7. Ask About Current Promotions
Businesses frequently run promotions as a marketing tool to get new customers and beat the competition.
If you have already gotten to the end of the purchasing process, a car company may not make you aware of any promotions.
Be sure to ask what the current promotions are. If you do not ask they will not tell you. Some promotions might even help you avoid hidden and unclear fees. For instance, you may be able to get a free child booster seat if the right promotion is active.
Car Rental Discounts, Helping You Reach Your Destination.
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