5 Steps to Save Money on Car Rentals

Book your rental car with these five easy steps and you can rent one for as little as $10 a day. Don’t procrastinate! You’ll need to book far enough in advance to get the best deals.

Step 1 – Join a Loyalty Program

Are you a member of a major car rental company’s loyalty program? If not, consider joining. Most are free to join and members enjoy internet only deals, discounts and upgrades.
Shop the programs carefully. Perks vary and some companies offer very little to their members. National’s Emerald Club is among the most generous programs available allowing members to choose any car on the lot, enjoy free and expedited rentals. Hertz #1 Club Gold offers comparable perks, but charges an annual fee.

Step 2 – Try the deal sites Hotwire & Priceline

If you’re not choosy about what agency you rent from, you can name your own price at Priceline.com or Hotwire.com. Just enter your pick up location, dates and how much you want to pay and if your offer is accepted, you’ll be ready to drive. Note: Once your offer is accepted, you can’t cancel or change your reservation. Make sure your travel plans are firm because there are no refunds.

Step 3 – Book a package and save

Book your car rental as part of a package and save money. Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz are just a few of the companies that offer a sizable discount for booking a fly and drive package. These are available for both foreign and domestic travel

Step 4 – AAA, AARP & US Military discounts

Are you a member of AAA, AARP or an active member of the United States military? Most car rental agencies will give you a 10% discount.

Step 5 – Other Tips and Tricks

  • Prepay for gas. Car rental companies are notorious for gouging you if you bring back an empty tank.
  • Don’t buy unnecessary insurance. Most drivers are insured through their individual auto insurance policies or through their credit cards (you must use that card to rent). Call your insurance provider and/or credit card to find out if you’re covered.
  • Find coupons for the major car rental agencies with Zalyn.com
  • Use promotional codes. Find them at Promotionalcodes.com and CouponWinner.com.
  • Are you a member of a warehouse club like BJ’s or Costco? Check out their car rental rates. They often offer members steep discounts with their specially negotiated rates.
  • Prepay for your car. If you prepay in advance, you’ll receive a sizable discount. However, there are no refunds if your plans change.
  • Track rates through Autoslash.com. Car rental rates like air fares fluctuate, so if you have an existing reservation you can rebook it if your rates drop.
  • Book through a lesser known car rental company. These companies often have lower rates and cars with less mileage.
  • Check for hidden fees. If you need to return your car early, you might incur an early return fee.