Top 5 Car Rental Tips for Budget Travelers

Few strategies can help you significantly cut car rental prices.

Renting a car can be expensive during Carpocalypse. Here are some budget traveler-specific tips to save money when renting cars.

Rates can differ widely depending on demand, so it’s a good idea to visit multiple websites before booking. An auto rental aggregator can also help find you the best offers.

1. Shop Around

As rental car prices skyrocket during the carpocalypse, smart travelers have taken creative measures to cut costs. Some are renting moving trucks (though this might sound absurd) while others rely on peer-to-peer car rental platforms like Turo or ZipCar to save money.

Momondo or Kayak metasearch websites can be an efficient way to compare prices from multiple websites in one convenient place, but make sure that before booking you check that all fees and taxes have been included so that you know if it’s the best value option.

Don’t forget that many primary car and credit card policies offer rental car coverage; using your own policy for as little as $30 a day could save money and avoid expensive rental car company coverage policies.

2. Look for Discounts

Renting a car can be an immensely convenient service, but hidden costs can add up quickly. In particular, prepay gas and insurance options can add significant expense – but there are ways you can cut back.

First and foremost, always shop around. Websites like Kayak and AutoSlash compare rates from multiple rental companies for you, to help find the best possible deal. And don’t forget your membership discounts such as Costco or AAA — take full advantage! Also make sure to review your credit card program, as some include free rental insurance coverage or offer points for frequent travelers.

Bring along any extras such as child safety seats and GPS devices that you may require, including child car seats or GPS trackers. Before departing, be sure to inspect the vehicle thoroughly and document any scratches or other forms of damage that might exist.

3. Book Early

Many travelers begin planning a vacation by searching the web for flight and hotel deals, while overlooking the importance of booking their rental vehicle early.

Last-minute car rentals can be an ordeal during busy travel seasons. Fleets may become completely booked up quickly, leaving travelers without many choices. Early bookers usually have access to a wider selection of rides allowing them to easily find the ideal ride.

Booking early also ensures your rental car will be available when you arrive, saving time in long lines and paperwork at the counter. In addition, booking can help protect against additional fees such as one-way charges when returning the car in another location.

4. Rent a Compact Car

Unless you need something larger for family trips or are tackling challenging terrain with a 4WD, opting for a compact car could save money. Not only can it save on fuel costs compared to something larger but you may also avoid incurring additional driver fees that add up quickly.

Rental companies’ fleets change often, making securing your desired model difficult. To help make finding what type of car to rent easier and avoiding unexpected upgrades and add-ons easier during booking processes, many rental companies use four-character ACRISS codes that describe vehicles available for rental. Understanding these categories will allow you to get the best deal while staying informed can prevent temptation from purchasing unnecessary upgrades during this process.

5. Skip Add-Ons

Rent-a-car companies frequently try to upsell you with GPS systems, toll plans or additional insurance policies that you don’t necessarily need – most smartphones already can act as GPS receivers or stream audio while most coverage can come through credit card benefits or existing auto or home policies.

Hutchins of All the Hacks suggests bringing your own device or apparatus when renting one; additionally, take photos of both when picking it up and returning it so as to avoid being charged for refueling fees.

No matter if it is for weekend travel or cross-country expedition, following these car rental tips can save you both time and money when renting. Do your research ahead of time, look out for discounts when renting and prepare yourself accordingly before arriving at the counter.

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