With most travelers hitting the road for travel, car rental prices are at an all time high. Thankfully, there are ways to get good deals on a car rental, according to Scott’s Cheap Flights.
If you plan on hitting the road, remember the rules of road tripping. I take a road trip about 6 times a year, and I’ve gotten accustomed to all the little tricks and hacks I didn’t know before I owned a car. But it’s the same as when you rent a car. The only difference with car rentals and owning a car (besides the obvious) is that you could end up paying a fortune on the car rental. There could also be various other surprises, as I found out when I rented a Zipcar here in New York City.
I recommend just buying a car if you plan on road tripping, but if you’re only going to road trip or take a short distance, check out ways you can get a good deals on car rentals.
8 ways to get a good deal on car rentals if you don’t own a car
(1) Costco Travel. While there’s no single place to book flights that’s always cheapest, there is a place that’s almost always cheapest for car rentals: Costco Travel. You automatically have access if you’re a Costco member, and it also includes extra perks like a free second driver. Reservations are free to cancel, so you can book a car today and if the price drops tomorrow, just cancel and rebook for a cheaper rate.
(2) Autoslash. This is a free service that monitors your car rental reservation and notifies you if the price drops. Unlike with airfare, most car rentals are free to cancel and rebook, so you can take advantage when there’s a price drop. Autoslash makes it easy to know if/when that happens.
(3) Turo. This is the Airbnb of car rentals, according to Scott. People put their own cars up for rent on Turo, and you can get everything from a small sedan to a Lamborghini. The huge quantity of cars available keeps prices much lower.
(4) Rent from dealerships. Though not widely known, many car dealerships across the country have new cars they gladly rent out. Even better: the prices tend to be set-rate, rather than the inflated rates at rental agencies. Renting with dealerships really is the best way to get a good deal on a car rental.
(5) Uber/Lyft. In normal times, renting a car is cheaper than taking two or more carshare rides per day. But things are different during the Carpocalypse. If price is the main reason you preferred a car rental over rideshare (rather than, say, infant car seats), it’s worth using a site like Uber’s price estimator to see which would be cheaper for your trip.
(6) Home improvement stores. Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other home repair stores often have pickup trucks available for rent. These trucks tend to have set day rates, rather than inflated dynamic prices like at car rental agencies. Prices vary by location, starting at $89/day, according to Scott. It really is one of the best ways to get a good deal on a car rental. Not everyone thinks about this.
(7) Moving trucks. Perhaps nothing symbolizes the rise in car rental rates more than vacationers avoiding excessive car rental prices by renting U-Hauls (or other brands like Penske and Budget). Though of course seating is limited, for solo or couple travelers, getting a moving truck can be a cheaper option. Just remember to get a small one, and it’s best to grab some friends for some Instagram reel-worthy moments – you’re driving to Napa in a moving truck!
(8) Car share services. Check what services might exist in your destination city—Hui, for example, operates only in Honolulu. Zipcar is the most widespread service, but does require a membership fee. See our video below for our experience though. Zipcar does offer hourly rentals, which is better than expensive daily or weekly rates, especially because it does include free gas and insurance (but note: you WILL have to pay a monthly fee. It’s about $6 a month. Zipcar is a membership, and a lot of similar programs are going this direction).
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