Author Topic: Car Rental Advice  (Read 3845 times)

jwilliams0215

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Car Rental Advice
« on: December 16, 2015, 11:32:17 AM »
15 years of driving and finally I will be in need of renting a car. My wife and I are planning a two week trip at the end of April, flying into Salt Lake City and ending our trip in Phoenix. We'll be exploring the many national parks and wonders and likely will stay in lodging throughout (therefore a compact vehicle should be fine).

I first searched Hertz and Enterprise, receiving quotes of over $1,700?! $120+ a day! Seems a little outrageous.

What have you experienced as a the best route for renting a car and what pitfalls should we look out for?

I just signed up for Autoslash and they provided the following quotes (if that is what they are):
  • Thrifty - Compact - $696
  • Fox - Economy - $727
  • Hertz - Economy - $1,728
  • Avis - Economy - $1,987
  • Advantage - Economy - $2,845

I also have USAA that I need to look into for potential discounts along with my alumni association and AAA.

Thank you all!


Mother Fussbudget

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Re: Car Rental Advice
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2015, 11:51:08 AM »
Do not sign up for insurance at the counter.  See if you get insurance, and and/or road-assistance from credit card company. 
Generally it's cheaper to agree to refill the gas tank before returning the car than the pre-pay refill they ask you do to at the counter.

honeybbq

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Re: Car Rental Advice
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2015, 11:52:45 AM »
My guess is that they are nailing you because your drop off destination is different than your origination city.

terran

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Re: Car Rental Advice
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2015, 12:02:24 PM »
My guess is that they are nailing you because your drop off destination is different than your origination city.

Agreed. Round trips are generally much cheaper. We did an similar type of trip last summer in/out of Vegas in a mustang from Enterprise for 10 days for around $500 if memory serves.

If you have an Amex card you can sign for a program that offers up to 30 days of primary insurance for $20-25 total depending on coverage amount. You'd probably pay that much per day from the rental company.

acroy

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Re: Car Rental Advice
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2015, 12:04:28 PM »
Agree on insurance
Agree more expensive to do one-way. You have to suck it up
Watch out for mileage limits, be sure you get unlimited unless you know you'll stay within limits

We've done several longish one-way rental car trips, worked out great.

bobertsen

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Re: Car Rental Advice
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2015, 12:07:49 PM »
I almost always get the best rates through Costco Travel. Since they don't require any money until the time of rental, I usually search for and book a car months in advance, then search again on a weekly basis, rebooking and canceling my original itinerary if I find a better rate later. Right now I'm seeing rates on Costco Travel starting at $651 with Alamo SLC-PHX, although I just guessed at a 2 week timeframe in late April to arrive at that quote. Rentals through Costco travel typically also have unlimited mileage and an additional driver fee waived, although spouses don't usually incur this upcharge anyway.

As honeybbq said, this is probably a higher rate because it's a one-way rental. The rental companies have higher overhead on these due to either trying to line up additional one-way rentals on the same car, or in some cases even having to title transfer the car across state lines.

Also, as mentioned by Mother Fussbudget, I always decline all the up-sells at the counter (insurance, fuel, GPS, etc). If my rental is relatively low risk I just use my own insurance and book with one of my credit cards that offers decent secondary insurance (Chase Freedom Visa Signature has decent secondary), and if I feel like it's a higher risk rental due to location, duration, weather, etc then I'll book the rental on a credit card that has flat-rate primary insurance (in my case I have this added to my American Express).
« Last Edit: December 16, 2015, 12:11:21 PM by bobertsen »

Khaetra

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Re: Car Rental Advice
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2015, 12:11:25 PM »
Have you checked Budget?  I already pre-paid for an almost 4-week trip next April and it cost just shy of $800 with unlimited miles.  One way rentals will really get you though, as it would have been triple had I flown out and drove back, which was my original plan. 

NathanP

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Re: Car Rental Advice
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2015, 12:24:28 PM »
Consider whether you can split your trip into two car rental reservations. One rental will be a typical pickup and dropoff at the same location, while the other rental will be a one-way rental. For example, if you are planning to spend most of your time around Salt Lake City, book a rental starting and ending in SLC. You then book a one-way (more expensive) rental from SLC to Phoenix for the few days that you will be away from the SLC area.

An even more advanced version of this strategy involves three rentals. (1) local car rental at the start city, (2) single day, one-way rental to get to destination city, and (3) local rental in destination city. This strategy works well in areas where flights are not convenient.

This may not be helpful for your one-way trip, but other readers might benefit.

shadowmoss

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Re: Car Rental Advice
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2015, 12:33:08 PM »
If you join one of the airline frequent flyer clubs you usually get a discount, as well as points in their club.  I have both United and Southwest.  I book through whoever has the cheapest rates at the time.  I got Mom a rental last year for $100/wk for unlimited in Phoenix for 2 weeks.  Even the car rental agent was impressed.  I paid through the airline site, so all we had to do was pick it up.  Not one-way, though, so you will not be able to do that well probably.

jwilliams0215

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Re: Car Rental Advice
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2015, 01:06:04 PM »
Great information already, thank you!

I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred which comes with the rental insurance protection. So I'll be good there and decline all other offers.

It definitely looks like the one-way rental is causing a majority of the price (I broke out the details below).

Has anyone booked through Autoslash? I went directly to Thrifty and it looked like the charge was materially higher than the quote from Autoslash...

Here's the information through Autoslash:

2 weeks @ $79.61 - $159.22
1 extra day @ $12.99
SUBTOTAL - $172.21

Taxes and Fees - $226.88
Drop Charge - $297.44
Total Due - $696.53

I'm a little concerned of hidden fees baked into this number.

Dee18

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Re: Car Rental Advice
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2015, 04:33:25 PM »
I rent a car for a month every summer.  Some things that have worked for me:  look for coupon codes online and in coupon books school kids sell to raise money. For reservations  I always check Enterprise, Kayak, AAA, and Southwest Airlines.  Different years each of those has given me the best rate.  Don't ever pay in advance because the rates often go down as the date gets closer.  I always check a few times, including the day before.  Last year the rate was 25% lower the day of my trip.  Once I bothered to rent outside the airport (Seattle) and saved 50%, at a "rent a wreck". It was not a wreck, just three years old!   In Louisville I once needed a one way rental south...the reservation was $180 for one day.  At the airport I checked with other companies and got it for $59.  There are no set prices when it comes to car rentals.  Have fun on your trip!  And yes, Chase Sapphire is great for the primary insurance.

Clean Shaven

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Re: Car Rental Advice
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2015, 06:06:38 PM »
I almost always get the best rates through Costco Travel.

Me too.  I also do the "check and rebook/cancel original reservation" too.

I also like Priceline for car rentals, because they only use major national agencies, no local rent-a-wreck type places.  Downside is non-cancellable/ non-refundable, so you have to be 100% certain on the trip before booking.  I've had good success with ridiculous lowball offers on Priceline.

jda1984

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Re: Car Rental Advice
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2015, 08:25:30 AM »
Not sure if you're picking up at an airport, but generally they tend to be more expensive.  One reason is there are generally extra taxes or fees since this is a relatively pain free way for the local government to pay for things without increasing the tax burden for their constituents.  I've found in some markets, it is cheaper to take a 5 minute cab ride to another rental location and rent from there (avoiding the extra airport fees) if the rental is longer than 5 days or so.  Maybe you could ask for a sample receipt that shows the breakdown of the fees?

gliderpilot567

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Re: Car Rental Advice
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2015, 08:51:56 AM »
Consider buying a beater on Craigslist and selling it at the destination for almost the same price? Even a really crappy clunker probably won't break down in just two weeks and a thousand or so miles. Keep a few cans of oil and coolant in the trunk.

Unfortunately your arbitrage potential is probably better going the other direction, but hey it's a crazy idea that I would try if it was just me and my wife...
« Last Edit: December 17, 2015, 08:54:26 AM by gliderpilot567 »

SailorGirl

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Re: Car Rental Advice
« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2015, 02:41:26 PM »
Check multiple pickup locations.  I discovered that by taking a 20 minute bus ride to the outskirts of town to pick up a car I save $50 a day on rental fees.