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10 ways to save money on your next rental car

I’ve leased a car more times than I can remember, so I can easily say that the experience is the worst part of any business or leisure trip. This is often how the procedure works for me: I arrive at the airport sweating and exhausted, take a shuttle to the car rental desk, and wait for about 45 minutes in line to pick up the vehicle I had reserved online. Then, after confirming that I want every insurance policy given, I sign all the necessary paperwork. At this point, I prepare myself for the final daily rate and overall cost, which is almost always far higher than what was initially quoted.

The customer service representative responds when I shudder at the estimate, “It’s because you got all the coverage.” Better to be safe than sorry!

Although I agree with that cliche, I also want to know whether I’m being taken advantage of. Are there any other time and money saving tips I might be using here, besides tracking my distance and refueling before I return?

Experts strongly agree that the answer is “yes.”

So that you may leave the lot without emptying your financial account, here is how to rent a car.

1. Make reservations as soon as possible, especially during the busiest travel period.

According to Kristin McGrath, a savings and bargains specialist for, “auto rental businesses like Enterprise and Budget operate limited fleets and therefore need to forecast demand several weeks in advance in order to have a car ready for you when you get off your airplane.” You should make your reservations as far in advance as you can to guarantee that you not only get a fantastic price but also that you really obtain a car when peak travel season approaches for rental car businesses.

Consider using a cashback browser extension like EBates as well as a coupon code search extension like Wikibuy to save money while making online reservations. Additionally, looking for prospective savings on Groupon and LivingSocial can’t hurt.

2. Avoid booking at airports if possible — they can pile on fees

If at all possible, avoid renting a vehicle at the airport.

According to Ted Rossman, an industry analyst, “Renting a car at the airport is clearly more expensive in many circumstances as a number of towns had implemented surcharges.” It’s easy to disguise as a tourism tax, which we frequently see [in other forms] at airports, and it has its roots in a money grab for them.

According to Rossman, booking a rental car through an airport can increase your costs by between 10 and 25 percent. Just today, he was checking the price of a car he had reserved out of a San Francisco airport and discovered that the $200 base rate had an additional $100 added on in taxes and fees — “$50 more than if I went into the city and rented the car there.”

Blogger Chris Trifilio claims that by paying for an Uber or Lyft to carry him from the airport to a rental car facility, he has actually saved money. Even after deducting his $20 ride-sharing fee, he claims, “I still came out ahead.”

3. Use a credit card that will cover primary insurance

When renting a car, the insurance is typically the highest expense. The collision damage waiver is most likely the first add-on you’ll choose if you don’t frequently drive and don’t require or have your own auto insurance. In the event that you are involved in an accident while the car is in your possession, this insurance is the main one that will pay the firm back for the costs of damage.

Now, even if you have your own auto insurance, you might still want to choose this coverage since, as Rossman points out, if you get into an accident, you’d still be responsible for paying the deductible out of pocket and the accident might encourage your insurance provider to raise your rates.

There is a better approach, though, and it doesn’t cost you anything. Many credit cards provide primary coverage among their benefits; for a list of cards that do, see NerdWallet. The only restriction is that you must charge that card in full for the full amount of the rental.
To learn more about the coverage your credit card issuer offers, contact them. You should either add liability insurance with the rental car provider or use your own, if you have it, as it is often not included with these credit cards.
Purchasing rental automobile insurance from a different source than the rental agency is another approach to lower insurance costs.

4. Add your memberships to Costco, AAA, and other organizations.

The fact that Costco and BJ’s Wholesale have connections with well-known rental car providers is one of the benefits of membership.

“Costco is my go-to tip for reducing rental car costs. My membership paid for itself after two rentals thanks to the money I saved using their travel platform, according to personal finance expert Kelsey Sheehy. “You can typically add an extra driver for nothing, saving you another $12 to $13 every day.”

It’s worth checking whether you have an industry membership because insurance on rental cars is also a frequent benefit from trade organisations and unions, advises Rossman. Same if you have AAA, though.

Triflio claims that she was able to save over 15% on her most recent five-day, one-way rental from Chicago to Florida thanks to her Auto Club membership number. “With just one booking, the savings almost covered my annual membership.”

According to McGrath, the AARP frequently provides reductions or cost exemptions for rental car coverage.

5. Book through sites like Autoslash, which factors in discounts

Rossman uses the website to compare prices on automobile rentals even though she is not linked with Budget.

According to Rossman, you can enter your destination to receive quotes. It’s cool because you can enter your Costco or AAA membership information, and the system will look for any discounts or online coupons that could be available to you. They compare prices before and after you book, allowing you to rebook at a lower price if, two weeks later, the rental you had reserved for May dropped in price.

6. Research the package offers that include a ‘free’ rental car.

Although packages and bundles including hotels and/or airfare are meant to save you money, they can end up costing more than booking your rental car separately.

“Free” car is an offer that should not be taken at face value, according to travel advisor Randi Winter. “Frequently, it’s only for one or two days, and the mileage or extra days might significantly outweigh the “free” offer, especially if you plan to keep the car for a week or more.”

7. When prepaying, be wary of the cancellation fees.

Prepaying to save money can end up being your most costly choice, according to Winter. “Like hotels, prepayment for locked-in conditions look like they are going to save you money [but] changes in flight times, dates, cancellations for illness—even getting a better price hotel in a different area—even getting a better price hotel in a different area—could result in needing to cancel or modify a booking.”

And if you cancel less than 24 hours before the planned pick-up, the cancellation price will be doubled, costing you almost $50.

If you are paying in advance, make sure your plans won’t alter.

8. Detect a dent? Before leaving the lot, take a picture.

Rental car businesses typically ask you to perform a cursory inspection of the vehicle you’re renting in order to note any existing dents, scratches, or other visual problems. You can never be too thorough during this check, and it’s better to take pictures of any issue areas you find to prevent being held responsible later.

Always take pictures with your phone of any ominous dents, dings, or interior oddities, advises Winter. After you have returned the car and no longer have access to documentation, “this proof, with a time and date stamp, can save you from any allegations or charges.”

9. Bring or purchase your own child’s car seat.

Children’s car seats cost rental car companies a fortune – “between $10 and $15 a day,” according to Rossman.

Rossman advises, “You’re better off bringing your own,” and Barrett adds that it might be less expensive to just buy one when you get there. By using apps like 5Miles or Facebook Marketplace, you have a decent chance of discovering one that is reasonably priced and in good shape.

10. If you can, use cash to pay tolls.

The cost of crossing toll booths is just another tax that rental car companies really love to throw on to your bill. In addition to the cost of the tolls paid at their highest rate, Hertz adds a $5.95 fee for each day that you utilize their PlatePass service. Even if you don’t drive there, Avis, Alamo, and Enterprise levy an additional $3.95 convenience fee for each day of the rental (up to a maximum of $19.75 per month) in some regions with tolled roads.

Rossman declares, “This is a sly one that may really build up.” Nowadays, it’s more difficult to pay in person because bridges no longer accept cash. If possible, prepay the toll online (depending on your municipality) or purchase a disposable transponder. You can save a lot of money this way.

About Budget

Budget combines the power of one of the most well-known car rental brands in the world with in-depth local expertise, flexibility, and excellent pricing.

One of the most well-known rental car companies in the world, Budget Car Rental has about 3,350 sites spread throughout more than 120 nations.

With a network of about 1,650 outlets, Budget is a market leader in offering affordable travelers with car rental services. It also runs the second-largest truck rental company in the US. Avis Budget Group, Inc. is the owner of Budget.

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