7 Tips for Saving Money on Rental Cars

7 Tips  for Saving Money on Rental Cars

Rental cars are one of those necessary evils sometimes in traveling.  You need them to get to your destination, but it kind of stinks to pay such a huge part of the travel budget toward them.  There are all sorts of ways to get discounts and deals, though, if you are willing to dig.  {On a somewhat related note, ALWAYS remember to do a quick walk around the car to check for damage.  It is a step that can prevent paying for something you didn’t do, which is a total vacation downer.}

Over the years, I’ve picked up a few tricks, here are my top 7 ways to save money on rental cars:

  1. Lately when I travel, I’ve been going through Costco Travel for my rental car deals.  Their rates are almost always less.  Other places, like AAA, usually offer substantial discounts to members.  So, I suggest starting there first.
  2. If you are traveling for 5 days or more, make sure to check weekly rates.  Even if you return it after 5 days, the weekly rental rate might come at a substantial enough discount that it makes it a savings.
  3. Airport pick-ups are, on average, more expensive than renting a car off-site.  Which basically means that taking the train, bus, etc. into town and renting there could save you money at the exact same rental company.  Remember, you pay for convenience, if you are willing to be slightly inconvenienced, the savings might be worth it.
  4. Check your personal auto insurance before you leave.  Odds are, you are covered in a rental–so skip the in-house insurance offer and save some money.
  5. Free upgrades are awesome, if you need the space, but if not, remember, it just equates to more gas.  The better the fuel economy, the more money you’ll save.
  6. Typically, it’s best to fill the tank BEFORE you return the car.  Each rental car company offers different rates and fine print, so check with them first, but odds are, they will charge you a premium for the convenience of not filling the tank.
  7. Choose one driver and stick with that person.  Most companies charge extra to add additional drivers and it just isn’t worth the cost.  Choose one person to do all of the driving–and if there is an emergency, you might just have to break the care rental rules.  Gasp!

How about YOU, how do you save money on rental cars?


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  1. Robin Wrightr says

    Hi Mavis, also if you use your VISA to rent the car, decline the ins. VISA paid for the yellow paint to be removed from the red Durango hubby rented. He drove through the yellow striping on the road. The damage was less than our $500. deductable and our insurance wouldn’t pay. I had to send about 10 copies to them, but they sent the check.

  2. CathyB says

    Also be aware that the “free” upgrade may not actually be the same cost. Sometimes they add extra fees when you jump up in car rentals. Make sure to ask them if the total cost is the same, if you decide to go with the upgrade.

  3. Kathy gervasio says

    Costcos prices are usually the best. Beside the price , a second driver is included in the rental making it hands down the best price if you have 2 drivers.

  4. Anne says

    Seconding the info on 2nd driver with Costco—second driver is free. Make sure as well that the vehicle rental has unlimited milage otherwise the miles can add up quickly.

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