The cost of car rentals has increased considerably since the COVID-19 pandemic‘s onset, primarily due to car shortages. Many rental companies sold off vehicles in their fleet during the stay-at-home stage. As travelling has returned, the chip shortage has led to an overall decrease in car production, leaving rental companies struggling to restock their inventory. Limited inventory means higher rental prices for consumers. Yet, there are plenty of ways to save the next time you book a rental car! 

Renting a car doesn’t have to break the bank. Follow these tips and save!

Compare Prices Online

 Use search sites like KayakSkyskanner, or Expedia to compare prices across several rental companies. Tip: It’s often beneficial to set up an account with these sites to receive private deals or promo emails with discounts and lowered prices. AutoSlash works slightly differently than most sites in their search process. Enter your travel details, and they will send an email with the best options, boasting an average saving of 30% over the other sites.

Search Rental Companies Directly

While search sites usually surface the best rates, sometimes there are better deals on car rental company sites. Also, consider using a smaller, independent rental company as they often have cheaper rates than the big names.

Review Your Membership Programs

Memberships such as Costco often provide car rental discounts. Search their sites for deals or ask rental companies if they will apply a discount with your membership number. These discounts are not always the lowest, so compare preferred traveller programs that also offer car rental discounts.

Try Bundling

You can find savings if you book hotels, flights, and car rentals together as a package deal. Look for these on travel and membership sites.

Beware of the Extras

Make sure you aren’t nickel and dimed by car rental companies with extra charges. Don’t pre-pay for gas — you’ll almost always pay more than the going rate. Fill the tank to ensure you aren’t paying more, and have a plan for finding a gas station nearby when you return the car. Inspect the vehicle before driving to check for any damage so you won’t incur charges for anything already there. Don’t pay extra for insurance if your credit card already covers it. And bring your transponder for tolls such as EZ Pass to avoid higher toll charges from the rental company.

Photo: arosoft via 123RF

Use Miles or Points

Saving up enough miles or points for a flight can be a lengthy wait for many travellers. Why not use those points for a car rental to reduce the cost of an upcoming vacation or to plan a road trip instead?

Find Off-Airport Rentals

Car rentals are often the most expensive at the airport. A short ride from the airport can save you hundreds of dollars.

Book Early

Most car rental companies allow you to book without paying upfront. This method means you can lock in a rate while continuing to look for better deals. When one comes along, don’t forget to cancel the initial reservation and check cancellation policies for all reservations.

Look into Alternative Rental Options

Turo is a car-sharing marketplace that allows you to rent cars from individual owners. Type in the city and dates to see what cars are available at your destination. If you’re not returning the car to the same city, check the price differential and that Turo is available in the destination city. Sometimes you will save money or maybe instead have the opportunity to drive the car of your dreams for a few days. 

Ready to book your next trip? Keep these tips in mind to get the best rate on your car rental and avoid paying any extra fees!

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