Changes in travel habits during and after the COVID 19 pandemic have caused the good old-fashioned road trip to be ravaged by car shortages and insanely high rental prices.
Car rentals may seem simple on paper but can be more expensive and confusing than you would expect. The price you see is not always what you end up paying because of hidden costs such as damage, waivers, and other additional fees.
10 Tips on How to Save Money on Your Next Rental Car
Below are the 10 tips to follow that will help you save big when next you’re renting a car:
1. Know What You Need and the Industry Quirks
Rental car companies can often upsell you by suggesting a larger or more upgraded vehicle model to you than the one you booked. They will site reasons like better gas mileage, more power, or greater comfort.
If you let them convince you, you will pay more for the rental car itself and more for gas, as larger upgraded vehicles often use more gas.
Extra power and more comfort may not matter to you, especially if you plan to travel alone or just with one other person. Compact cars are generally spacious, and you may find the car you originally booked to be perfectly fine.
You could also choose to book an economy car or subcompact cars, which are just as reliable and are often a lot cheaper.
2. Shop Online
Shop online to compare and narrow down options that offer the best car rental deal. Look For sites like Priceline, Kayak, and Cheapcarrental.com for comparing the big chain rental companies. You can Google “car rental your-city” or “car rental near me” to find independent car rental companies too. These often meet or undercut the big chain prices, so it is worth checking.
After searching the aggregate sites for the big chains, try going directly to the car rental company’s site and look for steeper discounts than offered on the comparison sites because they otherwise have to pay the middleman for your booking. It is best not to pay in advance for any car rental until you know which to choose, as car rental fees are typically non-refundable.
3. Check Aggregate Sites
Renting a car can be overwhelming, and one can wonder where to start. It is recommendable to start with car rental aggregate sites for the best car rental deals. These sites enable you to search for many car rental agencies at once. They are;
These aggregate sites give you a good ballpark for what fees you might be paying for the big chain car rental companies. It is a great start to your comparison shopping, especially when comparing with your local rental car companies too.
4. Avoid Airport Locations
You may be very tempted to rent a car from there when arriving by plane. It is wise to resist this temptation because most car rentals at airports charge extra fees for the privilege of picking you up right at the airport.
To save money, choose a rental car company with alternative pick-up points. You can try taking a taxi instead from the airport to the rental car pick-up point, which is often cheaper than the rental cars at the airport.
5. Book Early
Booking a rental car should be done early, especially in peak travel season, because there are a limited number of vehicles and many people flocking to travel destinations. As simple economics states, when demand outweighs supply, prices of the items and services automatically go up. This is true in the travel and rental car industries too.
If you have no choice but to travel during peak travel season, book your car as far in advance as possible to avoid the risk of finding the vehicle you need being unavailable or paying more for traveling during limited inventory in peak season.
6. Compare Prices
Always go through each car rental company’s site carefully to compare the price quote car rental rates. Some car rentals may offer a better deal if you book early.
Make sure to check the daily and weekly rates. Though daily rates may seem cheaper, it may not always be the case. Read the fine print to find out if there are refundable fees for returning a car early.
For instance, you can take three or four days; you could book the vehicle for a week and return it early. You may save money this way so long as you do not tell them you are planning to return the car early.
7. Consider Smaller Budget Rental Companies
Smaller car rental companies may not have extensive locations and fancy websites like big renowned companies, but they may have better rates. Try discount brands like Advantage, Thrifty, Payless, and Dollar rental for a cheap rental car.
To find these smaller, more economical rental companies, search “car rental city-name”, “car rental near airport-name” or “car rental near me”. You may need to skim down the first few listings to find the smaller rental companies since the big chains often pay mightily to get their business listed at the top of the page. Although these smaller companies may not always be cheaper, they often are and are therefore worth a quick Google search.
Reading Recommendation: 5 Things You Need to Know When Renting a Car in Canada
8. Skip The Insurance
One of the biggest costs when renting a vehicle is car insurance. Rental car companies will offer you vehicle and liability insurance, but you may not need it.
For example, if you have personal car insurance, that covers rental vehicles or some travel-based credit card that covers rental car insurance, you may not need the extra insurance offered by the rental car company. Call your insurance company or credit card company to confirm what coverage you have so you can turn down the additional insurance with confidence that you are covered.
9. Sign up for Discounts
If you are a member of the following organizations, you can save a lot of money through the car rental discounts they offer:
- Frequent Flyer program
- CAA and AAA membership discounts
- AARP membership discounts
- Corporate or University Codes
- Senior discounts
- Government employee discounts
- Hotel loyalty program discounts
10. Refuse Upgrades
In addition to trying to upsell you, rental car companies may try to offer you a few upgrades or extra items you may not need for an extra cost. Save money by saying no to the following upgrades:
- Satellite radios because you can play music on your phone.
- GPS – Your phone has excellent built-in navigation apps.
Also, try to avoid adding a driver under the car rental company cut-off age. Younger, less experienced, drivers often have to pay a premium to rent a car and that premium will be added to every day the vehicle is rented whether the younger driver is actually driving the vehicle or not.
Going through the above steps before renting a car will save you money and time better spent having a fun-filled road trip.
For more information on how to get a good deal on rental cars, feel free to visit us at City Car and Truck Rentals, 445 Rexdale Blvd, Toronto, Ontario, M9W6P8. You can also call us on phone numbers 416-800-1222 or 1-888-777-9202.