Best Tips on Last Minute Car Rental Deals


Bronze Wordsmith
May 17, 2018
Car rentals are part and parcel of any travel or trip. This is why budget car rental deals have been proliferating everywhere. In fact, there is a formidable growing industry built on people renting cars specifically for out of town trips alone. While this phenomenon has sort of leveled the playing field when it comes to last minute car rental deals, there are unfortunately still some bad practices when it comes to renting cars – especially when you badly need one at the eleventh hour.

Today, I will be discussing some good practices about how to get the best rental car deals. A lot of them will, of course, center on last minute trips, which we all have taken at some point in our lives. So without further ado, here they are, some tried-and-tested car rental tips (hope they help you!).

Nix the Airport Car Rental Service

Imagine this: you’re tired from a long-haul flight and you simply want to go somewhere you can take a hot shower and then go to sleep on a soft bed. Seeing a car rental service after getting off an airplane would understandably seem like such a blessing. Sixt and Eurocar are famous for having a booth in most airports.

While it’s tempting to go for the first rental service that’s within spitting distance when you step on the tarmac, you will likely just be wasting plenty of money on it. Airport car rental services can be wildly expensive for a reason – the biggest one being that they offer the most convenience for travelers. However, these services also pay a lot to be able to offer you that kind of convenience. For starters, these companies have to pay a big fee for even being able to put up their business on airport premises. And who do you think ends up paying those fees as padded up charges, in turn? That’s right, you tired traveler, you.

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Go for Compact Cars

Barring dozens of heavy, oversized luggage you may be carrying, going for small car models is one of the best and most practical secrets to saving on car rentals. If you only have a carry-on bag that will fit in the trunk or the back seat of a compact car, go for it. Smaller cars significantly cost less in car rentals.

This is especially true of companies who like to advertise that they only have the latest, roomiest models. Just make sure they are offered by car rental companies who have a modest number of cars to lease to customers because these are the ones that tend to “push” their bigger models for a higher rental fee.

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Look Up Budget Car Rental Deals

A lot of companies charge higher daily rates or even have surcharges on weekends. On that note, it doesn’t make sense to rent a car per day – the costs will just add up unnecessarily. If you’ve got your itinerary all mapped out, try renting a car by the week, and rent it preferably on a slow weekday.

It’s also important to keep your eyes peeled for car rental promos and deals with your credit and membership cards. Frequent fliers and travelers typically have them offered up via email, with social media announcements, or through text messages, so check these sources out regularly. Also, if you’re up for a bit of car rental research, don’t hesitate to look up those car companies in your destination. Aside from reading up on consumer reviews, you can learn about all the deals, special offers, and incentives from different companies, and pick out the one that best suits your needs. Some of them even have last-minute deals, which is perfect for when you need them ASAP.

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Always Read the Fine Print!

This is especially true of cheap rental car deals. The basic rental price tag might be very affordable, but sneaky surcharges have a way of creeping into the entire contract. Learn to read the fine print before signing a car rental deal. Some stuff to keep your eyes peeled for include tacked-on sales taxes (they differ according to location, so a bit of prior research is in order), recovery fees, gasoline top-ups, holiday or weekend surcharges, maintenance and cleaning fees, and other iffy things that are meant to just pad up your total bill and don’t really have anything to do with you needing a car for a short time.

Another add-on is insurance. Sure, coverage is always good especially when you travel, but if you already have a good one that includes an auto insurance policy, then you most probably don’t need the additional one being offered up by a car rental agency. These rental agents usually have a quota to fill on a monthly basis, so they can get pushy when it comes to customers agreeing to and signing up for an additional insurance policy with every car they rent. Always remember that you can always say no to these offers.

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The Verdict?

There are truly so many ways on how to save on car rentals. It’s simply a matter of doing some research and breaking away from what people have normally done due to “tradition” or out of convenience. It also pays to read up customer reviews. I take special note of specific compliments or complaints because these can make or break the decisions I will eventually make with renting a car on my trips. If a certain complaint is repeated several times in several (unrelated) customer reviews through the course of a couple of years, then it means the company hasn’t really done anything to resolve the matter. For those, I will have to give a hard pass.

My personal favorite way to get the best deals on car rentals is to ask people who have used and will recommend certain ones during their travel, and get their feedback if the overall service and experience is good. Again, the best resource for such things is been-there-done-that travelers. They can also give me additional tips on how to make the most of the car rental they have chosen, and other ways to work around saving money while making sure my road trip itinerary remains intact.
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