There’s nothing like a great road trip. While traveling, having a car can be so freeing.
When you travel for a long period of time and use public transportation or Ubers, you might start to miss the freedom to just get up and go anywhere as you please on your schedule. So when we travel to other states or countries and want to explore by car instead of by regional airline, sometimes we choose to rent a car. It’s nice to have the freedom to stop and take in your surroundings!
Here are some tips for Renting a car and getting a great discount
Booking Sites: Make sure you don’t pre pay your rental car or you won’t get reimbursed if something goes awry. Travel sites that let you buy “discount rentals that are hides the company name and car till you buy” are great , but in exchange for a good deal, it can be difficult to get a refund. Some sites I like to use are Kayak, Ortbitz and Travelocity.
Discounts: Check to see if there are discounts available based on longer term use, sometimes a deal will activate at a 5 day rental while others will activate at a 7 day rental, sometimes there are deals for two weeks and others for a month. Make sure to ask before you book, sometimes if you call they can give you a better rate.
Secret Discounts: Have you ever checked out Flyertalk? Apparently there are a ton of coupon codes linked to memberships or point programs that allow you to get massive discounts on your car rental! These change all the time, but be sure to see if anyone has had any success finding any. I’ve heard of instances where someone got 50% off their rate by mentioning some of these codes.
Drop off Discount: Occasionally you can get a better car rental rate if you pick it up and drop it in a different airport. Why? Because sometimes point A’s car gets dropped at point B, and doesn’t make it back to point A, so they offer a discounted rate to get it back to that airport. We once were staying in Vegas, and realized renting a car to return at the airport in vegas was $30/day, while dropping the car at LAX in CA was only $10/day. We were going to fly to CA but we drove instead, and held onto the car for an extra 2 weeks so we could keep that amazing rate. Because of that we saved a fortune on flight and car fees.
Hidden Fees: Make sure to be aware of all hidden fees involved in bringing a car back late, extending your trip, or even bringing a car back early. One time we rented a car for 5 days and wanted to extend for a week and drop at a different airport. They told us we would have the same rate, and no drop fee, but when we went to drop the car, they changed the rate to $100/day and gave us a big drop off fee. Our car was $700/week and $500 to drop! The car should have been $300/week (which was expensive already), but for some reason they gave us the highest day rate possible rather than our initial quote of $42/day.
Book with Credit: Always book with a credit card. The main reason for this is they won’t take a deposit, sometimes it’s $200, other times it’s $500. Credit cards often come with bonus insurance, if you book with that card, there may be another level of travel insurance or car insurance protection. Lastly, if you have a rewards card, you might get some discounts at certain car companies if you use your card, or you can use the purchase for bonus points. Occasionally there will be a point bonus, like “book with Avis and get 5X points on every dollar”. Be frugal, and be smart, and you can get a great deal now, and get more from it later on as well!
Use your own Insurance: Most of the time, it’s best to just use your own insurance. When you travel, every single company will offer you insurance. Most of the time, you just need a form of travel insurance and auto. Sometimes your credit card will come with all types of insurance benefits, but if it doesn’t and you are unsure about it, get a cheap travel insurance package that comes with auto protection and you’ll be covered for everything (double check their fine print). But be aware, if you plan to use your personal auto insurance on a rental, it will not cover certain things – like theft of belongings, so be aware of your risks before you book.
Booking through Turo: Turo is like an Airbnb for car rentals. People upload their cars to the website for rent at their own day, week or monthly rates, and you can make an offer to rent their car. They will deliver their car to you for free or a fee, or you can pick it up! If you are looking for variety, and you don’t want the old’ microscopic tiny car, you can usually find a really great alternative in the same price bracket or less. If you are looking for a luxury car, this is the place to look too. Depending on where you go, you can find all kinds of luxury sports cars or even SUVS if that’s what you are looking for. Turn also has a great insurance program for drivers and car owners, making it no different from renting a car from a traditional company.