How To Save On Rental Cars


Bronze Wordsmith
May 17, 2018
Since road trips are part and parcel of traveling, I’m posting more tips on how to save money on rental cars today once again. I already wrote about Best Tips on Last Minute Car Rental Deals in another post. That article offered practical tips such as reading the fine print in contracts, learning to rent small cars (compared to roomier SUVs and vans), and avoiding expensive airport rentals. However, I managed to pick up even more great car rental hacks – thanks to my family and friends who swear by them!

So today I’m going to be sharing five more awesome methods to save on car rental. I know that there are even more out there, and what I’m going to be sharing will just be the tip of the iceberg as far as rental hacks are concerned. If you have more to share with us, please feel free to mention them in the comment section! But for now, I present to you five tried-and-tested ways to save on rental cars.

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Make Car Rental Comparisons

This should be common sense, right? But so many of us prefer convenience over doing prior research that we end up paying for the first (or most popular) car rental we come across.

I discovered this particular travel hack when I started booking a car through a specific company’s website. In a moment of confusion, I thought I already booked in person at their city branch the previous year, so I paid them a visit. I was so surprised to learn that the particular car I wanted to rent costs less when I book them in person, compared to when I book it online! Apparently, it’s a common practice among car rentals. They seem to charge on the sly for convenience.

Fast-forward to today, and I always make sure to check rental prices via the local branch vs. the ones online. I also bookmarked a couple of car rental dealerships on my tablet so I can quickly check which ones are currently offering promos and discounts, as well as who is offering the best price for a vehicle I want to rent.

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Hunt for Deals and Discounts

There will always be deals whether or not it’s the travel season (or what the tourism industry calls “peak season”). Aside from bookmarking several car rental company websites I’ve done business with before, I also look up reviews and recommendations on travel sites like Orbitz. They have nifty search options for car rentals, and it’s a simple matter of inputting your pick up and drop off time and date. After which, you can get offered a lot of available deals and discounts for those dates. With so many car rental services available today, a lot of them are willing to give promos just to have a leg up on the competition.

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Get An Early Booking

By this, I mean as soon as your travel plans are set in stone – not early as in first thing in the morning. But come to think of it, booking your rental car in the AM is also a good idea. You can have first dibs on your vehicle of choice, and agents are usually more polite in the morning because they want to close more deals before quitting time (I know this from experience).

However, as soon as your plans for traveling become more or less waterproof, go ahead and book your car rental. Hemming and hawing or waiting at the last minute will present more problems. I did this before, and I was always left with either the most expensive options, or the dates I had planned to rent weren’t available anymore.

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Try Being a Vehicle Transporter

What exactly is a vehicle transporter? I honestly got to know about this unusual job only last year! Basically, car companies hire licensed drivers to transport their vehicles from their premises (showroom, parking garage, etc.) to various locations. Some businesses that require vehicle transporters include car manufacturers, used or second car businesses, and airport car rental services.

You need to meet their requirements, of course. You have to be of age, have a valid driver’s license, know and obey all traffic rules, be familiar and follow the company regulations and policies, and basically be a careful and courteous driver because you will be representing the entire company. In return, you get to use a car with a full tank to drive around (within a reasonable mileage, depending on company policy, of course).

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Fill ‘Er Up!

This particular tip reminds me of returning library books and even those days of rented movies on VHS tapes (yes, I hark back from that era – I’m as old as the hills!). You have to pay a fee if the items you borrowed aren’t returned in their previous state. I’ve spent more than my fair share of penalties for books that lost their dust jackets, and for movies I forgot to rewind before returning them to the video rental shop. It was not only financially inconvenient for me as a younger person, but it was also embarrassing because it reflected my carelessness and thoughtlessness.

With this in mind, make sure to return your rental car with the gas tank full if the contract stipulates that you should. That way, you could avoid any penalty that will cost you more money in the end. I’ve made it a habit of doing so even without that particular clause. I find that it’s just good manners overall.

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The Verdict?

There are so many ways to save on rental cars, thanks to modern-day conveniences and technology. But I’ve discovered that the best rental hacks are those borne from the hits and misses I made in all my years of traveling and road trips. I also make sure to ask more seasoned travelers for tips and methods they swear by because I can certainly use some of their expertise. So if you’re also well-versed in the art of saving on car rentals, won’t you share some of your experiences and tips with us?
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