Travel is expensive, whether you’re planning a vacation in another state or a trip back home to see the folks over Thanksgiving. One place to save money – and still have a great time – is on your rental car.
The good news is that rental agents are prepared to negotiate. The bad news is you’ve got a bit of work to do.
As with most things nowadays, your first port of call should be the internet. Web-based businesses like TRED tend to be cheaper because they have fewer overheads, so can pass saving onto their customers.
Rather than spending hours entering your details into individual providers’ sites, use the well-known comparison websites such as Expedia or TravelAuto. This not only cuts down on time, they might also have special arrangements with certain providers to allow you to get an even better deal.
When you experience fantastic customer service with a car rental provider you naturally want to give them your custom again. What do you do if one of their competitors is cheaper? Ask your preferred provider to match it. It might pay to ask to speak to a manager, who is likely to have the authority to discount.
Car rental providers are always competing for your business, so even if you’re happy with the price you found online, try ringing them. You can often get better deals simply by talking to someone.
If you plan to travel over a busy holiday period, booking ahead to ensure you get a car is a no-brainer. Even if you don’t get much of a discount, there will be a better range of vehicles to choose from. (Which might mean there’s a car that’s more suitable for your budget anyway.)
Try to research car rental at the same time as booking your flight or hotel. Airlines and accommodation providers often partner with car rental agencies, so you could snap up a great deal.
If you’ve had to book at peak time and couldn’t get a good rate, check your rental car company again closer to your departure date. Better deals might be available. Just contact them and they should give you the discounted rate, and if not, then cancel and rebook (providing there are no penalties).
Read the fine print
You’ve found an unbelievable offer, but before you hit ‘Buy’, check the small print carefully. Are there any restrictions on where you can drive the car? What are the office’s opening hours? If you intend to return the car at 10pm, but the office closes at 7pm, you’ll have to rethink your plans.
Some companies include an additional driver as part of the package, while others charge a fee. Certain companies allow you to rent one way, but others will penalize you.
Make new friends
If you come across a rental provider that’s giving you an amazing deal, but you haven’t heard of them before, don’t be put off. Do some research, look at the small print, and talk to them. Small companies have to try hard to attract new business – good value doesn’t have to mean poor service. The price comparison website CarRentals.com tends to search the independent companies.
Check your mail
You know the junk mail that you automatically bin? The coupons you are emailed but disregard? This is often how companies let you know about their special offers. If you know you’re going to rent a car soon, check these.
If you regularly rent cars, signing up to a rental provider’s loyalty program will secure you preferred rates and build up points to get further discounts. This means you can’t shop around, so it’s a gamble.
Credit cars, hotels, and airlines have formed partnerships with various agencies to give discounts to their loyal customers. Make sure you’re aware of what your providers offer.
Less isn’t always more
Surely if you need a car for three days it’ll be cheaper than renting one for five days? Not necessarily. Sometimes rental providers have special offers which give you a better deal if you rent for longer. Take a look at their website for offers, play with different dates, and speak to a representative before you book to make sure you aren’t missing out.
If it seems like you’re never out of the car rental office and you can navigate the comparison websites with your eyes closed, it could be time to buy your own car. Check out what we have on offer – all TRED cars have passed extensive vehicle tests, there’s a 7 Day Buy Back Guarantee, and financing and warranties are available.