15 Tips to Get the Cheapest Rental Car Every Time (2022)

Cheap flights may be in our name but we love a good bargain on any aspect of travel. When it comes to car rentals, we want the equivalent of a $63 roundtrip flight to Chile—we want only the best car rental deals.

Unfortunately, right now, car rental deals are hard to come by. In 2020, with travel virtually zeroed out, car rental agencies were facing a crisis: nobody was traveling. And while airlines were bailed out by taxpayers (multiple times), rental agencies were not. So what did rental agencies do to survive? They sold off hundreds of thousands of cars to horde cash and hunker down until travel rebounded.

Now, with rental agencies are finding themselves with far fewer cars available to rent. (To make matters worse, the current semiconductor chip shortage means it’s taking longer for agencies to find new cars to replenish their fleets.) That shortage means higher rental prices, particularly in busy spots.

Hope’s not all lost, though.

Here are some of the things you can do to help find the cheapest rental car—especially during the current carpocalypse—nearly anywhere you want to go.

Cheap car rental basics

1. Start with a car rental aggregator site

Begin your search with the aggregator site of your choice (such as AutoRentals). This gives you a chance to see several rental car company and OTA options at once. On OTAs like Kayak, Hopper, and Priceline, you can filter for companies that allow you to drop the car off in a different country from the one in which you rent it. Those of you who are under 25 can also filter for companies that allow car rentals for younger drivers, though keep in mind there is often an “underage driver fee” associated with these rentals.

2. Always compare rates booking direct

After getting an overview of your options on an aggregator site, don’t book anything until you’ve compared those rates with the rates on that rental car company’s site. In some cases, there may be a special discount or deal available on the official site that’s not available anywhere else.

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3. Check car rental rates on Costco Travel

If you’re a Costco member, check rates on Costco Travel, which often has the cheapest rates. It’s an especially good value if you’re sharing driving duties, as Costco doesn’t charge to add a second driver.

4. Check out car sharing services like Turo and ZipCar

While the big-name companies might get all the limelight, smaller car rental agencies abound—some are even local to the place you’re visiting, so you won’t have heard of them before. Try searching at CRX to see if there are any cheaper car rental companies serving your destination.

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. For example, here’s the rental pages for Toyota and Subaru dealerships.

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.

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.

Moving trucks. Perhaps nothing symbolizes the carpocalypse 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, it can be a cheaper (and memorable) option.

Also, depending on where you’re going, don’t overlook peer-to-peer and car-sharing options, too. With Turo, you can “rent” a car from a private owner—it’s a bit like Airbnb, only for cars instead of vacation rentals. And if you’re a ZipCar member, you can book cars in their fleet by the hour or the day.

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There's even Imoova: When someone needs their RV relocated, they list it on Imoova. For instance, at time of writing, you can rent an RV in New York for $1/night, as long as you deliver it to Las Vegas within 4 weeks. Gas money included.

Car rental pricing and rates

5. Always book the cheapest economy car

Assuming you don’t need something bigger for a large family group (or a 4WD for a winter trip), you’ll get the best price if you book the cheapest car option available. You’ll be prompted many times to upgrade for a fee—don’t do it. In some cases, there won’t be any economy or subcompact cars available when you arrive at the rental counter to pick up your car, so you’ll end up with an upgrade anyway—and you won’t have to pay for it. The worst-case scenario is that you end up with an economy car, which really isn’t so bad (those cars cost less to refuel, after all).

>>Read our tips on renting a car without a credit card

6. Compare weekly vs. weekday vs. weekend car rental rates

There’s no rhyme or reason for the duration of time that’s cheapest for car rentals. Sometimes it’s cheapest to rent for only the days you need the car, sometimes it’s cheaper to rent for a week even if you only need a car for a few days. In other words, be sure to check both before you book—just make sure the rental car company won’t charge a fee if you return the car early.

Also keep in mind that because business travelers frequently rent cars, and business trips are predominantly over weekdays, weekend rentals are often less expensive than weekday rentals. If the timing of your trip is flexible, shifting your schedule so you’re renting a car over a weekend might save you some money.

7. Look at renting a car away from the airport

Sure, there’s no getting around the convenience of picking up a rental car before you even leave the airport—but there’s a price to be paid for that convenience. With very few exceptions (think big cities that aren’t ideal for driving in anyway), renting a car at the airport is nearly always more expensive than renting a car from another location of the same company’s rental offices. Compare the rental rates and associated fees (and don’t forget to factor in the cost and time involved with getting to the off-airport rental office) to see which is cheaper.

8. Skip the upgrades

In addition to the vehicle upgrades you’ll be tempted with during the booking process, there are a host of extras and add-ons you could choose—all of which will cost you money. Pay attention to what’s being offered and, when possible, just say no.

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  • GPS: You’ve got GPS on your phone, so don’t pay the additional fee for a GPS unit for the car. Just remember to bring a charger to keep your phone juiced up as you go, and a mounting device to make it easier to read the map while you’re driving. And, if you’re traveling overseas and don’t want to rack up all the data charges, go analog and get a good paper map.
  • Toll Pass: Cars in areas with lots of highway tolls often have passes on the windshield that are automatically read at toll booths, saving drivers time. Rental cars have these passes, too, but the daily fees that come with them are usually more expensive than if you just paid the tolls with a credit card or in cash as you passed through. Not only that, sometimes rental car companies will charge a daily fee whether you use the pass or not.
  • Car Seat: No, we’re not suggesting you leave your kiddo unsafe in a rental car—we’re just suggesting that if you can bring your own car seat, you’ll save the daily fee the agency would charge you.
  • Frequent Flyer Miles: In many cases, car rentals can earn frequent flyer miles for the airline of your choice. What you may not realize is that sometimes the rental car company will charge you a daily fee for the privilege.

Advanced car rental tips

9. Decline insurance for your rental car

Before you check the box accepting the car rental company’s insurance coverage, do your homework. Many credit cards automatically include the required insurance coverage for a car rental when you use that card, so check your credit cards to see what they offer. If you’re traveling in your own country, any car insurance you carry on your personal car may extend to rental cars, too, so double-check that.

10. Look for membership discounts and coupons

Sometimes car rental discounts are in obvious places—if you’re a member of AAA, for instance, there are car rental deals available for members. You’d expect that, since AAA is all about cars.

Sometimes, though, car rental discounts are in places you might not think to look. Here are just a few, but this isn’t an exhaustive list. If you pay for membership to anything, ask whether they have a partnership with any car rental companies for exclusive deals.

  • The company or organization where you work
  • AAA
  • AARP
  • Military/Veteran
  • Groupon
  • Hotel loyalty program
  • Airline loyalty program
  • Credit card

11. Stick to one driver

The cost of renting a car includes one driver (except, as noted above, when booking with Costco Travel). You can always add another driver (or more), but there’s usually a daily fee for each additional driver. As long as it makes sense and is safe to do so, leaving only one person in charge of all the driving saves money. (Deputize someone else to be in charge of navigation, finding parking, or counting out cash for tolls to divvy up transportation responsibilities.)

And remember, while most major car rental agencies will rent to anyone over the age of 20 in the US and Canada, many car rental agencies charge an additional or higher fee for drivers under 25 years old.

12. Get a manual transmission (if you can drive it)

In many parts of the world, automatic transmission rental cars are more rare—and more expensive. If you know how to drive a stickshift, you can save quite a bit, depending on the country. (But if you don’t know how to drive a stickshift, don’t try to learn on a rental car.)

13. Pay for your rental car up front

Some rental car companies offer a discount if you pay for the rental during the booking process rather than when you actually pick the car up. This isn’t always the case, but it’s worth checking, as the discount can be as much as a third off the total price.

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14. Track prices and cancel and rebook when prices drop

In other cases, reserving a car without paying means you can keep checking rental rates (or use Autoslash, which tracks prices and notifies you if the price decreases for your dates), and if you find a better deal, you can cancel the original rental and book the cheaper one. Pay attention to any deadlines for canceling the original booking, however, or you may be stuck paying a cancellation fee.

You can even do it manually, as Idid recently. When I booked a 2-day car rental in Boston, the rate was $165. But a week later, I saw that the rate had dropped to $156. So I canceled my initial reservation and booked the new, lower rate. I set myself a calendar reminder to quickly check for price drops every Monday morning for the next four months. By trip day, I’d rebooked five more times, and I wound up saving more than $50 in the process (plus got a roomier sedan).

Saving $50 may not sound like much, but this was a two-day rental. If it had been a week, I would've saved $175.

Like airfare, car rental rates are extraordinarily volatile. But unlike airfare, you don’t have to prepay for car rentals. What this means is that if you book and the rate next week gets cheaper, you can cancel, rebook, and save the difference. The best way to improve your odds of a price drop is to book your rental early—ideally as soon as you book your flight. Even if rental rates are high, you’re still in a win-win situation. If rates go up, you’ve already locked in a lower fare. If rates go down, you can cancel for free and rebook cheaper.

15. Pump your own gas

Most of the time, you need to either return rental cars with a full tank of gas or you’re stuck paying the exorbitant rates the companies charge for fuel. Getting gas yourself before you return the car is one of the easiest ways to avoid an insanely-high extra fee, but gas stations near the airport often have higher prices. Try the GasBuddy app (or site) to find the best deals on fuel near you.

Also note that depending on where you’re traveling, diesel may be cheaper than gasoline. Check GlobalPetrolPrices to compare the costs of different types of fuel so you can choose a rental car appropriately.

FAQs

15 Tips to Get the Cheapest Rental Car Every Time? ›

15 Tips for Getting Cheap Car Rentals Every Time
  • Check Aggregator Sites First. ...
  • Always Check the Car Rental Sites. ...
  • Don't Rule Out “Budget” Rental Companies. ...
  • Compare Weekly and Daily Rates. ...
  • Skip the Insurance. ...
  • Say No to Upgrades. ...
  • Book Economy Cars. ...
  • Never Pick Up the Car at the Airport.
Sep 18, 2019

How do you get a deep discount on a rental car? ›

Getting Deep Discounts on Car Rentals
  1. Keep checking rates. Once you reserve a car, you are not usually locked into the rate at the time you booked. ...
  2. Book for a week. ...
  3. Reserve the smallest possible car. ...
  4. Use your own insurance. ...
  5. Skip the GPS. ...
  6. Avoid the inclusive gas option. ...
  7. Rent away from the airport. ...
  8. Add a second driver.

What is the cheapest way to rent a car in Orlando? ›

The cheapest place to book your rental car is at the airport, where rental car agencies such as Green Motion and Europcar keep prices low. Hertz is one of the most pervasive agencies in Orlando, with locations throughout the city, but their prices typically start around $40 a day.

Why are car rentals so expensive? ›

Renting a car today is more expensive for the same reasons that buying a car is more expensive, sent through an amplifier. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, rental car companies deduced that Americans wouldn't be traveling much.

Is Turo safe? ›

Ultimately, Turo is a safe and legitimate way to rent a car from a local host. Since 2010, Turo has grown into a popular service with more than 200K total app ratings and an "Excellent" ranking on Trustpilot from consumers.

Is Costco the cheapest way to rent a car? ›

Low rental prices

Costco is probably the most competitive outlet for renting cars that I've found. They're almost always the cheapest, though it's never a guarantee. When you book through Costco Travel, you also can add your reservation information to AutoSlash (read our review here).

Is it cheaper to rent a car at the airport or online? ›

Re: Car Rental: Book online or go to counter? Generally it's cheaper than going through the individual rental companies. Even though you make the booking through a third party, all dealing are with the individual company.

How much is a rental car per day in Florida? ›

On average a rental car in Florida costs $325 per week ($46 per day).

How much does it cost to rent a car in Orlando for a day? ›

Cheap car rentals in Orlando
Economy$12/day
Full-size SUV$45/day
Supplier choice$25/day
Intermediate SUV$26/day
Compact SUV$27/day
6 more rows

Will car hire prices in Orlando come down? ›

Some visitors are just swallowing the increased car hire pricing and paying up, but the increased cost is out of reach for many planning their Florida holiday. With chip shortages reporting to be an issue until mid-2022, it's unlikely things will stabilise until we're well into 2023.

Will rental car prices go down 2022? ›

While prices have slightly dipped from those highs, they're still higher every month so far in 2022 than before the pandemic. But not all rental car prices are created equal, even if the rental car is otherwise the same.

Are Hertz and Dollar the same? ›

In November 2012, Dollar, along with sister company Thrifty Car Rental, joined the Hertz family of brands following Hertz's acquisition of Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, Inc.

How much does it cost to rent a car? ›

On average a rental car in the United States costs $452 per week ($65 per day).

Can you negotiate the price of a rental car? ›

If you're standing at the company's rental desk, and they are that close to renting you a car, they're probably willing to negotiate. And sometimes they will negotiate a lot. Even if you find haggling embarrassing, just go for it.

Does Enterprise car rental give AARP discounts? ›

Does Enterprise offer a discount for AARP? Enterprise does not have a partnership agreement with AARP to receive a discount, but continues to offer competitive rates.

Does Alamo offer AARP discount? ›

Alamo doesn't offer an AARP discount — but you can still get on the road at a better rate by booking Alamo through the AARP Travel Center Powered by Expedia.

What is the cheapest way to rent a car in Chicago? ›

Tips for Renting a Car Inexpensively in Chicago

Avis and Dollar are also cheap rental options and are available in some locations throughout Chicago if picking your car up at an airport is inconvenient. You can also save over $10 a day if you extend your rental period to over a week!

Little tricks, like picking up your car in the city instead of at the airport, can help you save money on your next car rental.

Make sure you factor in the cost of a taxi or rideshare to and from your rental location if you rent at a location away from the airport.. Then go directly to the car rental company’s site.. If you didn’t book a nonrefundable rental, you can cancel your reservation if you find a better price.. Use it to save money on your next rental car.. Most rental car companies will charge you a daily fee to add an extra driver.. That fee is typically $12 per day with Enterprise and National Car Rental and $13 per day with Budget and Avis, but can vary by location.. Rental car companies charge a per-day fee for the transponder, which you pay in addition to any tolls.. While tolls are unavoidable, there are cheaper ways to go about it.. “In the popular vacation destination of South Florida, car rental companies often charge $25 per day for the SunPass, whether you use it or not,” says Goldman of AutoRentals.com.. This will save you $10 or more per day.

Your ultimate guide to hiring a vehicle without scams and shocks

The firm also has a Tesla electric vehicle available – at £2,288, or almost £14 per hour.. As with everything in travel, car rental rates and availability vary dramatically depending on supply and demand; in the short run, supply is fixed, while demand is highly volatile.. But you can regard a pay-on-arrival booking as insurance against a shortage of cars while you shop around.. While it may take you straight to the supplier, there’s a good chance it could lead to a broker (another middleman).. The price should include elements such as the airport surcharge, taxes and basic insurance.. Second driver : Most reputable companies will allow you to add a second driver for free.. Plenty, starting with your arrival time .. If you are driving in an area where you know that any tolls can be paid as you go through by cash or card, that is generally the best solution.. Increasingly, though, there is no manual option, and the least expensive solution is to pay your rental car for the privilege of an in-car transponder.. If you decide to trade up, the costs swiftly increase; the upgrade fee is itself upgraded by a range of additional charges, including state tax and airport fees.. When I tested an Enterprise rental in San Francisco, the rate for a week’s small car was more than twice as high at the airport (£512) than from the firm’s office in the city centre (£252).. The discrepancy was made up of a whole range of fees, including a $16 flat fee per rental for “Airport Transportation” and an 11.11 per cent “concession recovery fee” that the airport charges the rental company.. Note that there is no airport penalty, with a one-way rental, in picking up at low cost at a city centre and returning to an airport.. You could also plan to hire for a short time from a cheap and cheerful local provider (eg on a Greek or Italian island) – or avail of one of the many city car-club schemes whereby you can rent for a few hours, with fuel included.

Get Free, Personalized Cheap Car Insurance Quotes in two minutes or less. With Insurance Navy you're sure to find the Best Affordable Auto Insurance Quote at the Cheapest Rate for your Car, Truck, or SUV!

A quote for car insurance is offered for free by insurance companies and gives an estimate of how much your auto insurance coverage will cost.. A Car Insurance quote is determined by a number of personal factors, like where you live, car type, marital status, credit score, driving history, and coverage term.. When you find an appealing cheap car insurance quote from a company, make sure you take the time to compare the different car insurance policies that are offered.. You could see some discounts on your cheap car insurance rates.. Many car insurance companies offer affordable premiums for customers who have multiple types of car insurance policies with them.. Insurance companies always offer the lowest rates for customers buying vehicle insurance with a clean driving record, who they see have lower risks of filing insurance claims.. Insurance Navy is one of the few insurance companies that can offer the cheapest car insurance quote with no credit check necessary.. Vehicle type and auto insurance quotes The car you drive will impact your insurance rates.. Cheap auto insurance, cheap auto insurance, cheap auto insurance, cheap auto insurance, cheap auto insurance, cheap auto insurance.. Car insurance quotes, insurance quotes, cheap auto insurance, cheap insurance, insurance quote, affordable car insurance, cheap car insurance near me, cheap full coverage insurance, cheap car insurance quotes, car insurance quote, car insurance comparison, cheap insurance quotes, auto quotes, get car insurance quotes, get insurance quotes, car insurance estimate, get a car insurance quote, cheap car insurance quote, free car insurance quotes, insurance auto quotes, vehicle insurance quotes, free insurance quotes, low cost auto insurance, online car insurance quotes, auto insurance comparison, cheap online auto insurance, full coverage insurance quotes, cheap automobile insurance, online auto insurance, cheap car insurance online, how to get cheap car insurance, car insurance quotes online, buy car insurance online, free auto insurance quotes, online insurance quotes, online insurance quote, car insurance comparison tool, buy car insurance, car insurance quote online, most affordable car insurance, online auto insurance quote, cheap vehicle insurance, free car insurance quote, cheap car insurance quotes online, auto insurance quotes online, get auto insurance quotes, buy auto insurance online, cheap online car insurance, free insurance quote, affordable car insurance near me, car insurance free quote, get cheap car insurance, affordable car insurance quotes, cheap auto insurance quotes, very cheap car insurance, automobile insurance quotes, online car insurance quote, quick car insurance quote, automobile insurance quote.

Thinking about renting a car with Turo? Here's everything you need to know, including how it works, what's covered, and why it's a good car-rental agency alternative.

Rental car prices have skyrocketed — they were 88% more in June of this year than last — leaving people without many options except for forking over hundreds of dollars per day to rent a bottom-of-the-line economy car.. Rental car companies sold off 770,000 cars , with some companies shedding 40% of their inventory , to try to stay afloat.. Now, with everyone wanting to rent a car but not enough cars to go around, rental car agencies have the ability to name their price.. We were almost foiled by ridiculous rental car prices: $229 per day, picking up from Newark airport in New Jersey — which would have meant spending an hour and a half traveling west for us to pick up a car to drive east.. They create profiles for their cars, set the price and mileage limits, and would-be car renters ("guests") can search by location and filter by price, rating, type of car, etc., and rent directly from the owners (Turo calls them "hosts," just like on Airbnb).. Whereas traditional car rental companies have locations at airports and some outposts in cities, Turo's cars are available wherever there are hosts (it's currently available all across the U.S., Canada, and in the U.K.).. This can be a lot more convenient if you're looking to rent a car from home, rather than flying somewhere and picking up a car at your destination.. Choosing a car that has high user reviews is a good way to ensure that you likely won't run into an issue with the cleanliness of the car or the pickup/dropoff process.. In the event that you have issues with the condition of the car upon pick-up , Turo recommends you communicate with your host immediately and contact Turo support, which is available 24/7.. Turo considers itself a peer-to-peer car-sharing platform, and credit card insurance policies are usually explicit about only covering rentals from a commercial car rental agency.. Especially now, with the squeeze on rental car inventory, it makes less sense to pay car rental agencies when you could make use of cars that are sitting unused.. I like to think of it as borrowing a car from a friend — except you're paying that friend a fair price for using their car.. Your personal auto insurance likely won't cover you if you're driving a Turo car, and neither will your credit card's collision damage waiver.. Weighing that risk against how much you want to pay might just have you trying out Turo the next time you need to rent a car.

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