Author Topic: Car rental and gas - how to spend less  (Read 2953 times)

frugalfelicia

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Car rental and gas - how to spend less
« on: December 30, 2016, 10:18:51 AM »
I don't own a car because most of the time I don't need one. I walk to work, take the bus if I'm buying a lot of groceries, etc. My family lives out of town and there is no bus/train that goes to their town(s) - so I rent a car for these visits. I average about 6 trips a year, 2 days/trip. The car rental is by the day, and I pay anywhere from $15-$35/day for the rental, plus gas (about $20-45 per trip, depending on which place I am going to). Total cost is about $350/year.

Does anyone have tips on how to lower the cost of either the rental or gas?

etselec

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Re: Car rental and gas - how to spend less
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2016, 04:27:39 PM »
Enterprise in my town often has a weekend $10/day low-mileage rental special. (80 or 90 miles a day, I think?) Could be worth it to see if your area has something similar.

For gas, are you using gasbuddy.com or a similar site to make sure you're filling up at the cheapest gas stations? Not worth going way out of your way, of course, but often going just a few blocks over, 1 highway exit farther, etc. can make a big difference. Some gas stations also have a program where you can set up direct-debit to your bank and get a 10 cents/gallon discount (you give up credit card rewards, though, so be sure to do the math that way). Cumberland Farms is the one near me that has this program, but I imagine gas stations in other areas may also have it.

frugalfelicia

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Re: Car rental and gas - how to spend less
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2016, 08:00:30 PM »
Thanks for the tips!

Yes, I check gasbuddy - great site.

Unfortunately the trips to my family are over the mileage limit with Enterprise, so I can't get those deals. I did discover that there is a thing called Enterprise Plus, and it seems to give points for every rental which you can then redeem - going to sign up for that.

Goldielocks

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Re: Car rental and gas - how to spend less
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2017, 12:18:33 AM »
Are you renting the smallest car possible?  You will get both a reduced rate and reduced fuel costs with smaller vehicles.

chasesfish

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Re: Car rental and gas - how to spend less
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2017, 05:45:59 AM »
Use Costco Travel and reserve your rental 9+ months in advance.  Rental car reservations are fully cancellable, so reserve early and then cancel and re-book if rates drop.

Villanelle

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Re: Car rental and gas - how to spend less
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2017, 05:49:15 AM »
Look in to renting via Priceline.  It's been a while, but if they still have the bidding option, it may present a cheaper option. 

frugalfelicia

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Re: Car rental and gas - how to spend less
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2017, 06:31:41 AM »
Are you renting the smallest car possible?  You will get both a reduced rate and reduced fuel costs with smaller vehicles.

Yep! Usually end up with a Fiat or something similar.

frugalfelicia

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Re: Car rental and gas - how to spend less
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2017, 06:42:48 AM »
Use Costco Travel and reserve your rental 9+ months in advance.  Rental car reservations are fully cancellable, so reserve early and then cancel and re-book if rates drop.

Not a Costco member, but did check this out. I plugged in a few dates, and the rates are cheaper, but only by 10% or less. For example, I put in a couple of dates for February and the Costco price was $17.50 instead of the regular $19.00/day. I'm averaging 12 days of rentals per year, so 1.50 x 12 = 18.00, which wouldn't cover the cost of a Costco membership. Thanks though!

frugalfelicia

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Re: Car rental and gas - how to spend less
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2017, 06:44:39 AM »
Look in to renting via Priceline.  It's been a while, but if they still have the bidding option, it may present a cheaper option.

There is a bidding option, but only gives the option to rent from the airport car rental :(

Syonyk

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Re: Car rental and gas - how to spend less
« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2017, 06:51:19 AM »
Spending a lot of time and effort optimizing a $350/yr car expense probably isn't worth it.

It sounds like you've looked at the easy options already and are doing them. The membership programs for car rental are generally optimized for getting you a nicer vehicle, not lower costs. A full size for the price of a compact, stuff like that. Which won't help gas costs.

See if you can find a no fee CC with good cash back on car rental and gas.

frugalfelicia

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Re: Car rental and gas - how to spend less
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2017, 07:00:04 AM »
Spending a lot of time and effort optimizing a $350/yr car expense probably isn't worth it.

It sounds like you've looked at the easy options already and are doing them. The membership programs for car rental are generally optimized for getting you a nicer vehicle, not lower costs. A full size for the price of a compact, stuff like that. Which won't help gas costs.

See if you can find a no fee CC with good cash back on car rental and gas.

Thanks.
I recently applied for a 2% rebate card with a 4% promo for 3 months. Best I could find. My current is 1%.

chasesfish

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Re: Car rental and gas - how to spend less
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2017, 09:12:28 AM »
Why aren't you a Costco member?  Is there not a warehouse nearby?

frugalfelicia

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Re: Car rental and gas - how to spend less
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2017, 09:27:11 AM »
Why aren't you a Costco member?  Is there not a warehouse nearby?

Lots of reasons!
-I don't have a vehicle so large purchases are challenging on the bus
-Takes 2 buses and about an hour to get to one
-Have been with a friend before and didn't find that the savings were worthwhile

bigalsmith101

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Re: Car rental and gas - how to spend less
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2017, 03:19:25 PM »
Why aren't you a Costco member?  Is there not a warehouse nearby?

Many times for a small family, Costa isn't the better option. There is one literally in the next parking lot over from our grocery store, yet we have no intention of shopping there. Often times, the smallest size of the item we're looking to buy is more than we need, the prices are only very marginally better then the store we shop at (WinCo), and I'm able to use whatever credit card I want at WinCo by buying store gift-cards with my credit card. We have no incentive to join Costco.

GetItRight

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Re: Car rental and gas - how to spend less
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2017, 04:45:11 PM »
I could make the argument for long term ROI to buy a car for $1k (used to be $500 before the government screwed the poor with cash for clunkers) and only insuring during trips, but I don't think that's worth the effort (your time) if you only have use for a car a few times per year. As for fuel costs, your talking about saving pennies, maybe a buck or two at most. You're about as optimized as you're gonna get IMO.

JJsfr

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Re: Car rental and gas - how to spend less
« Reply #15 on: January 01, 2017, 04:54:21 PM »
Autoslash.com is a neat rental car search price aggregator (like kayak) with a twist: if your price drops at a later date they will rebook at the lower price automatically. It has its quirks but definitely has prices that compete with Costco's, sometimes higher, sometimes less.

Recently however they added the option to pull Costco rates.

chasesfish

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Re: Car rental and gas - how to spend less
« Reply #16 on: January 02, 2017, 05:35:55 AM »
Why aren't you a Costco member?  Is there not a warehouse nearby?

Many times for a small family, Costa isn't the better option. There is one literally in the next parking lot over from our grocery store, yet we have no intention of shopping there. Often times, the smallest size of the item we're looking to buy is more than we need, the prices are only very marginally better then the store we shop at (WinCo), and I'm able to use whatever credit card I want at WinCo by buying store gift-cards with my credit card. We have no incentive to join Costco.

Costco's prices are 8% to 13% better than a normal grocery/discount store.  This means you makeup the cost of membership after spending $600 or so in a year, the "marginal" savings adds up.  Costco takes Visa now, so that took care of the credit card objection most people had with Amex.

You can do better on individual items with Coupon's/Sales, but the marginal savings adds up over a year.

To the original poster - It makes sense if its 1+ hour away.


Syonyk

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Re: Car rental and gas - how to spend less
« Reply #17 on: January 02, 2017, 08:10:04 AM »
Assuming you have the space to store and make use of Costco-sized purchases.

It's hard in a smaller apartment to actually store 5 pounds of chicken breasts, 50 pounds of rice, etc.

I've had a Costco membership for years, and some years we simply don't buy much there, because we didn't have space for it.  Now that we have a huge standing freezer, it's a lot more useful, but my wife still doesn't like shopping there because a Costco run exceeds the attention span of our kid by a good half an hour.  So I make runs on occasion. :)