How to Get the Best Deals on Rental Cars

With all of the rules and restrictions surrounding flying during the pandemic, more travelers have turned to road trips. Although many people rent vehicles for a road trip, car rental companies are still struggling during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Many are offering incentives in an effort to draw business.

If you’re planning a road trip, you’re probably interested in find ways to save money along the way. That’s especially true if you’re renting a car for your journey.  Here are some tips to help you get the best price on your car rental.

Book your rental car earlier and for a longer period

There are several things you can do to snag the best possible price on a car rental. One of the most important is booking as early as possible. According to a recent travel article in The Washington Post, the earlier you book, the heavier your wallet. That’s because an early booking allows a car rental company to predict the demand at its various locations. 

If your travel plans are firm and you want to save the most money, book a prepaid or nonrefundable rental. Otherwise, opt for a refundable or flexible rental. That way, you can cancel it and rebook if you find a lower rate.

The cost of a rental car will vary depending on how many days you plan to keep it and whether those days include a weekend. Car rental agencies would like you to keep a car as long as possible. After all, longer rentals mean less paperwork, cleaning, and prep for them.

They’ll usually reward you for a longer rental with a discounted weekly rate. If you can tweak your rental time so it’s at least five days and brackets a weekend, you’ll probably get a discount on that expensive weekend rate too. 

Avoid getting charged for gas and insurance

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Paying for your own gas will save you a substantial amount over what the rental agency usually charges, whether you prepay for gas or return the car with a partial or empty tank.

Keep gas prices in mind when you choose your rental too. Larger vehicles that use more gas tend to be less expensive to rent than more gas-efficient vehicles. If you’ve planned your trip and know what kind of gas prices to expect along the way, you’ll be better prepared to choose a road trip vehicle.

Also, check your car insurance policy before you rent. Many policies already cover rental vehicles, so you might be able to skip the added fees for rental insurance. Some credit cards also provide rental car coverage. Just make sure your rental car is covered for liability, damage, and collision insurance before you drive it away.

Look for car rental discounts

Check the competition before you sign. The first agency you check might’ve already rented all of its affordable cars. Don’t get stuck with an expensive vehicle you don’t really want. Instead, check around to find the right vehicle at the right price. Price-comparison tools can help with your search. Try searching AutoSlash.com, CarRentalSavers.com, and Kayak for great deals.

You might also qualify for a discount based on where you work or what memberships or affiliations you hold. Big companies such as Amazon and Costco offer car rental discounts as a perk. A membership in AAA or AARP can also earn you a discount. Besides discounted prices, you might also qualify for a free upgrade or an additional driver added to your rental contract. Use as many discounts and coupons as you can — car rental agencies generally allow stacking.

With COVID-19 lingering, renting a vehicle for an uplifting road trip might be just what the doctor ordered.