How to Rent a Car at The Lowest Price Possible

You can choose from a variety of car rental options.
You can choose from a variety of car rental options. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Having a rental car is often the linchpin to an enjoyable vacation, with the freedom and flexibility a car provides when you're traveling to your destination and getting around after you arrive. If you are flexible in your car rental, and you are willing to research the available options, you can save on your travel budget. Making good use of any associations to which you belong or the points on your debit or credit cards will also assist in your budgeting.

Use flexibility in your search for a rental car. You may only need a compact car, but after searching you may find a larger car for an even lower price. This happens occasionally when car rental services depend on the availability of certain classes of cars.

Price-shop at several services. One of the easiest ways to do this is to go to the website of a major online travel booking service. These websites will usually list the rates for every class of car for every company they do business with in an easy-to-read chart.

Make use of your association memberships. If you have joined the American Automobile Association, for example, you can usually get a discount on car rentals. Sam's Club and Costco also frequently offer similar deals.

Remember your credit card points. Most of the major issuers of plastic allow you to use the points you've accumulated to rent cars (along with use on your other travel needs). Check your balance and perhaps get a free rental.

Complete a search of keywords on your preferred search engine. For example, at the time of publication, the keywords "cheap car rental" led to Smarter Travel, which displayed a number of specials with various companies. Hertz offered $30 off a weekly rental, while Alamo gave a free upgrade from compact to mid-size.

Tips & Warnings

  • Car rental rates can increase during weekends and seasons and holidays with heavy tourist traffic, so try to travel during off-peak times to save more.

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