Every aspect of traveling is costly, from booking a hotel room to paying for airline tickets. And if you need a rental car, your costs can increase even more.
Car rental rates may seem stuck at high prices, but there are little-known ways absolutely anyone can save. Here’s how you can save money on car rentals the next time you’re traveling.
Choose a Car Rental Agency Away from the Airport
Renting a car right at the airport is incredibly convenient, but booking your rental from one of these centrally located rental counters will cost you more money.
Because picking up or renting a car right at the airport is so convenient, rental car agencies charge higher prices. And most customers don’t even realize the price is higher because they don’t bother considering other locations.
According to NerdWallet, the costs of renting from an airport location versus a less populated location can total over $20 more per day. For example, an economy rental from a downtown rental location would cost $15 per day, but the very same economy vehicle would cost $38 per day if picked up at the airport. And if you rent that car for a week, you’d wind up spending over $100 extra.
Make sure to check prices at various rental or pick-up locations in your destination city. You could find a lower price and fewer fees, saving significantly on your next car rental.
Consider Weekly Rates Over Daily Rates
Rental cars can be rented for a single day, a few days, or an entire week. And while you likely assume that it’s cheaper to choose a short-term rental instead of a longer-term rental, this isn’t always true.
It can actually be cheaper to rent a car for a longer period of time. As Business Insider explains, short-term car rentals can be more expensive because there’s an urgent need – many people who rent a car for just a day or a few days are business travelers who need to rent a vehicle at the last minute.
So, instead of falling for pricing tricks like a higher-priced, marked-up car rental for just a few days, consider renting a car for longer than you need. Weekly rates are often more affordable and cheaper, giving you the chance to save money by extending your rental by a few more days.
Skip the Rental Insurance
When you’re renting a car, the rental agency will try to offer you a number of additional services, options, and upgrades – but every one of those extra features comes with a price. That’s why it’s important to only pay for add-ons that you’ll actually use and benefit from. And skipping the rental insurance is one of the best ways to save money.
Rental insurance can increase your car rental’s price every day during your travels. But the odds are you actually don’t even need that additional insurance.
Most people are covered when behind the wheel of a rental car thanks to their very own auto insurance. Most policies include rental car coverage that will protect you and the vehicle in the event of an accident, so paying extra for special insurance from a car rental agency is unnecessary and a waste of money. Check with your auto insurance policy before booking your next car rental so you don’t spend more than you need to.
Additionally, if your auto insurance policy doesn’t have you covered, your credit card might. There are travel credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which include rental car insurance while you’re traveling anywhere in the world. You’ll just need to make the rental reservation with your credit card and make sure to decline the rental agency insurance option.
Use Your Memberships to Score Additional Discounts
While car rental agencies offer deals and discounts of their own, you can also find discounts yourself. And those discounts might just be hiding in your wallet.
If you’re a member of different organizations, groups, or warehouse clubs, you can use your membership to score significant savings on your next car rental. Here are just a few examples of the kinds of memberships that could save you money:
- Costco offers members special pricing on car rentals booked online.
- AAA gives members up to 10 percent off rental cars booked through Dollar or Thrifty.
- American Airlines AAdvantage members can save up to 35 percent off rental cars booked through Budget and Avis.
Make sure to check with organizations like these before booking. Just mentioning your membership or showing your membership card could save you quite a lot of money on car rentals of all kinds.
Compare Prices from Multiple Car Rental Companies
Once you’ve used the tips and tricks mentioned above to lower the cost of your next car rental, there’s one more way you can find serious savings: comparing different companies’ pricing.
You have plenty of different choices when it comes to booking a rental car. There are many different rental car agencies and companies, and they offer their own prices and car options. And because they’re in competition with each other for your business, they offer deals and offers that are meant to make you want to book a rental car.
Ahead of your next trip, make sure to look at rental options and pricing from a few different rental car companies. You can search online for rental cars and compare the prices, features, and options offered. And when you do your research to find the lowest price, you’ll confidently know you’re paying the best rate.