Car Rental is often the last thing people think about when booking their vacation. First comes flights and hotels. Hours spend scouring the internet looking for the cheapest prices. Then comes your travel insurance, a savvy traveller will always make sure this is in place before they travel. Almost as an afterthought people start to think about car rental. Everyone knows you can hire a car on arrival at the airport but most people don’t realise just how expensive that will be and how much cheaper it is to book online before you travel. Below, we’ve written a quick guide to help you maximise your savings on hiring a car.
There are many tips and tricks you can use to find the best deals on car hire. Here are our favourites below.
- Call any associations you are a member of – travel, sports, hobby, travel, rewards programs, and even credit card companies. Ask for discounts on car rentals. AAA has, Costco has, your office might have contacts who can give you good rates too. (this is why you should be nice Nick from Human Resources.)
- Go online and start looking at car rental companies. Look at Hertz, Avis, Travelocity, or other sites that can compile car rental rates and compare them. Look for deals that might meet your needs. And don’t just look at airports. There are car rental locations away from airports that can give you better rates. Everything at airports is just expensive. Look for an airport shuttle, or check transportation costs to get there so you can see if you will be saving money or not.
- Always look for the cheapest car rental vehicle. Usually, these are compact cars, so if you are not as tall as Tho, then you’ll be okay. Sometimes, you can avail of discounts or upgrade offers that will allow you to get better vehicles for a small price. And sometimes, you can get a free upgrade, especially in busy car rental companies.
- If you are not particular with the car rental company you want to use, you can go to hotwire.com. They offer deep discounts on car rentals (and other travel types). The caveat? You won’t know who the car rental company is until you’ve paid for your reservation. Also, if you book a car rental from them, you will be required to pay for the entire rental cost up front, and if your plans change, you won’t be able to refund the money.
- You can also bid. You can bid for cheaper rates at Priceline.com. Priceline allows users to offer the price you want to pay, hoping that a car rental company will take pity on your cheapness (well not really, just don’t get too cheap), and allow you to rent one of their vehicles for the price you offered. Most good deals have caveats, and this is similar to that of Hotwire- you won’t know who the company is until your bid is accepted. And once they accept your bid, you will be charged the full amount of the rental. It’s also non-refundable, and you won’t be able to change your itinerary. You can also check out BiddingForTravel.com and BetterBidding.com, which can help you with your bid before you go to Priceline. Those two sites will show you bidding rates other users have bid, and which rental company accepted the bid.
Now that you’ve done your homework and found the best car hire deals you can sit back and relax, counting down the days to you vacation knowing there are no expensive surprises waiting for you at the car hire place at the airport.