Tips, Tricks & Trends

How To Save Money on Car Rentals, According To the Experts

Everyone loves to unwind and see the world by traveling to exciting destinations. When it comes to rental cars, it seems every age group, especially millennials, loves to borrow a great cruiser and hit the open road. However, there’s often an exorbitant cost to do so. Saving every dollar possible can make all the difference between a mediocre vacation and an unforgettable one. That’s why we’re here to give you some tips on how to save money when renting a car.

Travel experts have discussed ways to reduce fees when dealing with car rental companies, such as Hertz and Enterprise. However, it’s essential to do your research well ahead of time. It’s common to make mistakes when renting a vehicle, and rushing into just any rental will likely cost you top dollar.

Some of the experts’ pointers seem obvious, but they can often be overlooked. Meanwhile, others are creative ways to save a buck here and there. So, before you plan your next getaway, go over these car rental tips so you can use your fun money on something actually fun.

Savvy ways to save

People standing in line to rent a car from car rental agencies like Avis and Budget
People in line at car rental agencies | Photo by Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Unfortunately, car rentals aren’t available at a steady price. The month, day, and duration of your rental can greatly affect the price. The Washington Post spoke with industry insiders and found several ways to get upfront savings on a rental car’s price. 

The publication recommended using the Honey app, which can be installed on your web browser. Honey instantly applies any valid coupons found on the internet to your purchase. Plus, it will alert you if you are getting the best deal available.

If Honey doesn’t help you get the price you’re looking for, don’t fret. There are plenty of easy ways to save by dealing directly with the rental company. 

The Washington Post offers several solutions. First, compare the rates of different rental companies at various locations. Notably, picking up a car at an airport is often pricier. Then, call them directly and ask for a deal. Finally, see if any companies offer discounts for any organization or subscription you’re a member of, such as AARP, AAA, and Costco. Chances are, at least one of these tips will lead to direct savings.

Travel often? Invest wisely

Do you plan on getting away from home on a regular basis? If so, you may want to take a different approach to renting a car. The Washington Post recommends signing up for any free loyalty programs offered by rental car companies. 

These programs come with a host of benefits. Not only will you earn rewards such as free rental days and upgrades, but you’ll also enjoy perks. For instance, Hertz Gold Plus allows you to skip the line when returning the vehicle. Plus, you can switch out your designated car for another available model that you like better.

If you rent often, you may even want to adopt different rental practices. Let’s face it, the time will come when something gets in the way of you returning your rental car on time. That’s why the U.S. News & World Report recommends asking the rental car company for an extended return time. This could cost you a few extra dollars here and there, but it could save you a ton in late fees. Sometimes companies won’t even charge you extra.

Rent the right car

RELATED: The Hidden Risks of Buying a Former Rental Car

Always research the class of vehicle you’re renting. Every model is different in terms of fuel economy, cargo room, and spaciousness. You’ll be able to choose which category of car you want, such as an economy car or intermediate SUV, but you may not be able to select your model. Additionally, you should always check your rental car before you agree to terms to make sure you don’t owe additional fees for damage you didn’t cause on the back end of the deal. 

Regardless, it doesn’t hurt to ask if you can, and if the option becomes available, you should have all the needed knowledge at your disposal. Before booking your vehicle, examine which models within your desired class get the best gas mileage. This can save you quite a bit of money if you plan on driving a lot of miles. Additionally, never make the mistake of returning the car without filling up the gas tank, as this will cost you an arm and a leg in added charges.