How Can I Save on a Car Rental?

Whether you are taking a vacation or going on a business trip, renting a car is often a necessity for travel. While many people spend a lot of time shopping around for discounted flights and hotels, not as much thought is put into saving money on car rentals. Unfortunately, the cost of a car rental can be very expensive if you are not vigilant about it.

While renting a car can be expensive at times, there are a variety of tips that can be followed to help you save money on car rentals.

Best Ways to Save

Avoid the Airport

If you are flying into a major airport, the most convenient option is to rent a car directly from the airport grounds. However, this convenience often comes with a big additional fee that often adds 10 percent or more to your total bill.

Instead, you should look around to see if there are any car dealerships in the immediate area by the airport. If you are willing to spend a little bit more time and take a taxi to an off-airport location, you could save quite a bit. Furthermore, many of these agencies will be willing to drive you back to the airport after your reservation is over.

Shop Around

Similar to other parts of your tip, a considerable amount of money could be saved by simply shopping around. The cost of a car rental can vary by a considerable amount. If one car rental company has a large unused inventory, they may be willing to provide you with a much lower rate in order to secure your business. Even after you have made your reservation, you can continue to shop around and look for better deals as many car rental agencies will provide you with a flexible cancellation policy.

Join Loyalty Programs

If you are a frequent traveler, the best way to save money on car rentals is to join a loyalty rewards program. Many of the top car rental providers in the country have programs that will allow you to earn status and awards. After you reach a certain status level, you will likely automatically earn discounts on cars and free upgrades. Furthermore, you can accumulate points that could be used for free rentals in the future.

Use an Online Aggregator

Using an online travel aggregator is another great tool that could be used to save money on car rentals. Through websites such as Kayak, Expedia, and other similar sites, you can combine your car rental, flight, and hotel into one large package. This will allow you to save money on all three, which could prove to be the best overall value. Through this method, you can also comparison shop each car rental option to make sure you are getting the best deal possible.

Choose Longer Reservation

As you are shopping for a rental car reservation, you will likely find that there are discounts provided to people that book longer reservations. Because of this, you should look to see what the total rate would be if you were to reserve a car for longer than what you needed. It is very common to see a seven-day rental actually be more affordable than a five-day rental. At the same time, there will not be any additional charge for returning the car early when you no longer need it.

Best Car Rental Agencies

National Car Rental

National Car Rental is often considered the top car rental agency in the country. This car company has around 1,500 locations, including franchises at all major airports. The Emerald Club Loyalty program is considered to have some of the best perks, which includes expedited point accumulation and hassle-free check-in and returns.

While National’s reported rates are typically higher than some other options, the quality service and other perks often make up for it. Also, many additional charges, including satellite radio and roadside assistance, are more affordable with National.

Avis Rental Car

With rates starting as low as $245 per week for economy cars, Avis is a very popular option. Avis has a quality loyalty rewards program that will allow you to accumulate points for free upgrades and rentals. The agency has over 1,900 locations across the country and a wide selection of vehicles to choose from including sedans, vans, SUVs, and luxury vehicles. Plus, the vehicle selection is modified in each area of the country to reflect regional needs.

Enterprise

The largest car rental company in the country today is Enterprise Car Rental, which is also well regarded for having great customer service and options. Overall, Enterprise has more than 4,500 locations across the world, which includes service at all major airports across the country. Plus, Enterprise’s rates, which are as low as $288 per week for an economy car, are comparable to other car rental agencies.

The rewards program, Enterprise Plus, will provide you with expedited checkout, discounts on rentals, and free upgrades. Enterprise is also one of the few national car rental agencies that provide electric car options.

Hertz

With over 3,700 locations, Hertz is the second largest car rental agency in the country. Hertz has a major presence at all airports across the country as it is one of the leading providers of off-airport rentals. The company reports starting rates of no more than $225/week for economy cars, which is the lowest of the major car rental agencies. Hertz Gold members will also enjoy a good rewards program that will provide a quick accumulation of points, which can then be redeemed for free rentals.

Alamo Rent A Car

Although Alamo is smaller in size compared to the other car rental agencies, it still has more than 250 locations across the country. Furthermore, they have a very prominent footprint at all major airports, which is ideal for business travelers.

The Alamo rewards program is also unique in that it will provide members with an automatic five percent discount on all rentals. Due to the smaller size, Alamo is able to upgrade their fleet faster than much of their competition. Today, the company is continuing to roll out an expanded line of electric cars to locations all over the country.

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