Let’s not sugar coat this, rental cars are the most inconvenient convenience. They cost an awful amount of money, and unless your renting a luxurious Cadillac in Miami you’ll end up in a tiny little sedan that probably smells weird. They get you from point A to point B, but who wants to drop a pile of money on them? No one. So let’s just not.
1. Remember those basic discounts?? Those are still a thing.
AAA people! Travel Organizations! Like I mentioned before in my ode to such organizations, many of them have relationships with car rental companies just like they do with air and cruise lines. For example, AAA has a specific set of deals just with the Hertz Corporation, specifically. Often times the money they save you will be made up in counter expenses but, again, starting lower means ending lower. The great thing about going through these organizations is they will give you compared prices of every discount they offer with the prices right ext to each other. If you need a rental place at an airport, type in the airport, how long you’ll need the car for and BAM!- Companies available, prices available, and reviews are all right in front of you. It save time comparing by manually searching each component.
2. If you’re not into memberships, DO THAT RESEARCH!
KAYAK is a website I use only when I really need to since I don’t care for their pop-up settings, but if you want to shy away of travel organization memberships then it is the place to go, especially for rental cars. They also give you a comparative list filtered mainly by the type of car, the amount of passengers, and the number of bags. Of course you can change and set these filters to your needs and they offer the best price at the top. Filtering by company isn’t a priority on their site so unless you’re picky, on KAYAK you’ll be looking at prices and needs first rather than brands. Another plus is that they will also provide you with offers through other sites such as Priceline and Hotwire.
No matter what you’re booking, package deals seem to be a common denominator of cheap travel. Just like hotels and flights you can group together car rentals with each or both of the latters. This can be extremely convenient especially with flights because the booking site will help you ensure the car will be at, or near, the airport you’re flying into or out of. I always vouch that packages save money, and though I sound repetitive here (and I know it), I just can’t stress enough that you need to double check everything! The best way I do this is by manually calculating the total of each separate accommodation and then compare that to the package total. See the image for an example.
The three steps above are ones that I have taken and used or considered through my own resources and experiences. Since I am still a college student on a budget, there are other car rental discounts to consider that I just don’t have available to me yet. I would highly recommend giving NerdWallet’s article a read to see if there are more strategies that apply to you!
Stay tuned for Part 3, it will take your bargaining to new heights! (pun intended)