We’ve all been there: the big road trip is scheduled for this weekend, but the car just started acting up. Or, you’ve just landed, and now you need your own transportation.
Enter the rental car.
Renting a car can be expensive, especially if you go to a car rental company without a plan. That’s why we created this guide on how to save money on car rental, no matter your situation.
Best Ways to Save Money on Car Rentals
The fact of the matter is, there’s isn’t a preset best way to save money on a car rental. Instead, there’s a variety of car rental tips and programs you should familiarize yourself with in order to make sure you’re getting the best deal every time you work with a rental car company.
Leveraging discounts is your bread and butter—the best way to save on just about everything.
Just like any other product and service, rental car contracts aren’t sold at their full price every time one is allotted. More often than not, there is a car rental discount just waiting for you to inquire about and take advantage of.
For instance, you should be on the lookout for:
Coupons and promotions – There are all kinds of deals and discount codes available, both in-store and online, for many major and smaller-name car rental companies. From coupons and promotional codes on aggregator websites to rebate programs like ours, you can often save up to 50% or more (especially if you combine them with other methods below).
Lower rates on different models – Whatever car you have in mind when you get to the rental location, you should be open to looking at different models, makes, and even classes (do you really need the SUV?). Often, you can save money simply by opting for a subcompact over a sedan, or for one car manufacturer over another.
Make a care rental reservation – Rates are often better the farther in advance a rental company can secure your payment.
Bundle pricing – Renting multiple vehicles at once, or being a loyal, consistent customer, may open up special rates. In addition, you should inquire about whether rates depend on the length or timing of rental. Special occasions can raise prices, and weekly and daily rates differ all the time (more on this below).
Lesser-name brands – Finally, you should look at all options available to you. While the security and comfort that industry leaders provide can be attractive, the price tags connected to those intangibles can be avoided with a lesser-known local option.
Another way to save money in 2020 is opting out of expensive add-ons, like optional car insurance.
Rental car companies will generally try to sell you insurance to cover your rental car for the duration of the rental. They may even try to scare you into adding on coverages, from a collision damage waiver to comprehensive, with horror stories about customers having to spring out-of-pocket over a 2-day rental.
There’s a good chance you don’t need this coverage!
- Your regular car insurance may have built-in coverage for rentals
- State and local laws might not require insurance for rentals
- Your credit card might have built-in coverage (see below)
Beyond anything that’s actually necessary, or that helps you feel safe and secure, extra insurance is often unnecessary. Of course, consult with your insurance agency and look into local laws before making the decision on whether it’s a good deal for you.
Redeem Your Rewards
One of the great benefits of modern credit cards is that many offer robust rewards programs to incentivize spending. They do so by offering attractive points systems and cash-back initiatives.
Did you know that these rewards systems are especially useful for saving money on rental cars?
In particular, many cards that offer travel benefits, such as miles for points, allow you to redeem these rewards for rental cars. Some cards even offer specific rewards programs geared toward car rentals. And, regardless of the reward situation, many credit cards offer built-in insurance on rental cars, enabling you to forego the optional insurance with confidence. One of our favorite credit card programs is chase ultimate reward.
On that note, let’s take a closer look at airport car rentals.
Is It Cheaper to Rent a Car from an Airport?
No! In fact, an airport rental is almost always more expensive than an outside rental agency. Think about the convenience and about supply and demand.
A rental company in close proximity to an airport location knows that they can rely on a steady stream of customers who are in dire need of transportation. Even if the need isn’t dire per se, the convenience of renting a car without leaving the terminal is enough to drive up prices.
But that doesn’t mean you need to pay more for a rental if you’re at the airport.
A savvy move is to do your research ahead of time and see what rates are like at competing locations. If a competitor is easy to get to with public transportation, a shuttle, or even by taxi, the rate of savings will be worth the extra shoe leather.
Let’s tie up another loose end from above: daily vs. weekly rental rates.
Is It Cheaper to Rent a Car for a Week?
Yes, a weekly rental is almost always cheaper.
As noted above, weekly rates are priced as a bundle, meaning rates are often lower for longer rental terms. Specifically for rental cars, weeks are often priced differently from weekends, and both differ from a typical daily rate.
So, always check all rates and offers available at any rental companies in your area. That way, you can make sure you’re saving as much as possible and always finding the better deal.
How to Save Every Day with RebateKey
Here at RebateKey, we’re all about savings. That’s why we offer guides like these, to break down the best ways for you to save money across a wide variety of situations.
It’s also why we offer a platform that enables you to find the cheapest option, get cash-back, up to 100%, with a simple rebate system. When you shop online, your purchase code is the KEY that can unlock your continued savings. Simply report it, then wait 35 days for your check.
No cutting off barcodes, no fussing with mail: just savings. That’s RebateKey. If you’re looking for additional ways to save money at Walmart, Hotels.com, Forever 21, CheapOair, etc., check out our website!