This article includes car rental secrets to help you save hundreds of dollars on your next trip. I will walk through the process to find lower car rental prices for a sample vacation.
Please note that when consumer demand is high, car rental prices will also be high. Sorry to break that news to you but it is reality. But some of the car rental tips and tricks listed in this article and our other McCool Travel rental car articles may help you to find reasonable rates in such high demand periods.
OK, following are some real results for an actual car rental search I found, including the process, suggestions, prices, and images.
Initial Car Rental Search
Ouch! That Hertz. Ha! A little travel pun.
Would you pay over $500 to rent a standard car for one week? Well, it certainly depends on many circumstances and factors but I will show you later how to save hundreds of dollars off this car rental.
There is really nothing special about this car rental request either. Pickup and return to the same location, keep it for a week, and even apply a discount code. It does include the 4th of July holiday but the following weeks are even higher (I just checked). Insanity!
To find cheaper rental car prices: see Basic Car Rental Tips
You can click the “Save $ Pay Now” button to save more than 10% (on the first car) but please do not! I will show you how to do much better and save hundreds of dollars.
Find Cheaper Rental Car Prices
After an initial search on a car rental company website, my next step is to look at other car rental companies and employ some other car rental strategies. Please read 8 Great Savvy Car Rental Strategies.
I also typically search car rental rates on Autoslash, which compares several companies at once. Autoslash also continues searching rates after I book one. Very powerful for finding cheap car rental rates.
Lately, though, my second step for finding cheap rental cars has been to go to Costco Travel. Half of my recent car rentals have been through Costco Travel. Why not? They provide lower prices and the same benefits and service. I choose Avis or Alamo when possible and the Costco Travel reservation even applies my Avis Wizard and Alamo Insider benefits.
Looking at the same dates and times as above, Costco Travel found these cheap car rental rates.
OK, truth be told, this rate is NOT from the airport. It is from a car rental location 5 miles away from the airport.
Car Rental Secrets: Pickup a Car Away From the Airport
Is it worth the hassle to visit a non-airport car rental site to save over $200?
Of course I hope you agree with me that the answer is Yes and here are some McCool Travel tips to ease the process.
First, notice that a higher class vehicle costs less. I love finding these quirks. One car rental, my typical annual favorite travel deal (one-way car rentals from Florida), was a luxury class car costing less than an economy class vehicle. I drove that car over 2,000 miles during a 2 week period, from South Florida to Northern Virginia.
Second, notice that Avis is actually less expensive than Budget and Enterprise. It is a mistake to think that Hertz and Avis does not offer cheap car rentals. You just gotta know how to find them!
Getting to Offsite Car Rental Location
Third, you will likely take Lyft, Uber, or a taxi from the airport to the offsite car rental location. Sure, that will cost some money. My estimate is $20 each way so you will still save a lot of money overall.
Plus, with frequent discounts, your Lyft/Uber ride may be less. Factoring in waiting for the car rental shuttle bus versus catching an immediate ride, you may be in your rental car sooner at the offsite location than from the airport. WHAT? Yes, I said it.
McCool Travel tip: ask the car rental company if they will deliver the car to you or pick you up.
McCool Travel note: you must be a Costco member to book rental cars through Costco Travel but it is worth it. The AAA membership, though, is another story. Here is my article about why I decided NOT to renew my AAA membership.
For more ways to save money on rental cars see Stealthy Rental Car Maneuvers