Author Topic: Make me punch my face about renting a car  (Read 5609 times)

highwayskies

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Make me punch my face about renting a car
« on: April 03, 2014, 09:53:41 PM »
We're going on a trip to Charlotte this weekend (for a tiny house convention!), and I just rented a car.  We'll pay $120 for Fri 9p til Sun 9p.  While I'm thinking of it, and so that I save more next time, what's a good strategy to shop for a rental car? 

(What I did was, go to AAA and see which discounts apply to the companies at Charlotte's airport, then go to their sites.  I seemed to be able to save over deal sites by going direct.  By about a buck, Thrifty beat Dollar.  The others were slightly more.)

golfer44

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Re: Make me punch my face about renting a car
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2014, 10:04:00 PM »
You'll probably get a better deal off-airport. Getting there may be tricky, obviously.

Argyle

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Re: Make me punch my face about renting a car
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2014, 10:31:35 PM »
Pre-paid is generally significantly cheaper than a normal reservation.  The down side is that you can't cancel or change your reservation.  You can also google for discount codes.  There's a thread on rental cars up at Flyertalk.com where people list all the discount codes they know of.

If you have a frequent flyer program, be sure to link up your rental so that you earn miles for it.  You'll earn fewer miles for the cheaper rentals, but generally you've earn some.

When you have travel flexibility, play around with options, because the rental prices differ significantly by season, time of the week, etc. 

Another thing to watch out for is that when you're at the counter, they'll say, "Do you want the extra insurance or just the basic?"  Assuming you have car insurance that covers rentals, say, "I don't want to buy any insurance from you at all."  If you say "Basic," they'll still charge you, but for their (slightly) cheaper insurance.  They're depending on you thinking "Basic" means your own insurance, but it doesn't -- it still means an extra charge.  if you say you don't want any insurance, you'll use your own, they'll give you a lot of guff about "taking risks" and "when you scrape the car" and stuff.  I think they must get a commission for selling the high-priced rip-off insurance.  Make sure your own insurance covers rentals, but the vast majority do.  Your credit card may also provide back-up insurance (but not unless you already have primary insurance).

The cheaper way to fill up the tank is always to opt to fill it up yourself just before you bring it back.  They'll give you a spiel about pre-paying for a tank "at pump prices or less."  Yeah, but they charge for a whole tank, and who uses up every single drop of gas before bringing the car back?  It would have to be on its last drop for that deal to be profitable.  So tell them you'll fill it up yourself, and do so.  If there's too much missing (it's at 7/8 full instead of 8/8 full), they can charge you for a lot of gas.

Part of saving on car rentals is not so much getting the best price to begin with as steering clear of the extra ways they rip you off.

mom2_3Hs

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Re: Make me punch my face about renting a car
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2014, 11:17:22 PM »
Also look into Hotwire.com and priceline.com  There are boards with info on bidding strategies at betterbidding.com

lordrtype1

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Re: Make me punch my face about renting a car
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2014, 05:13:32 AM »
I buy and Entertainment book.  This years' right now is probably 20-25, but even at 35-40 (depends on where you are), you'll save more just using the entertainment code (about 25-40 percent), and you can use coupons on top of that.  If you use an online coupon, you can use it a million times if you want, they don't limit them (they don't for me, at least).  my last rental, with no discount would've been about 55/day for 4 days (220+airport fees+taxes I think was about 290).  With the disounts, it was 145, prepaid, with taxes and fees. I paid 20 for the book, and saved 145.  I always look at before/after coupon, because I try to figure out which coupon gives me the best deal on a rental.  I personally prefer avis, but they have coupons for Alamo, National, Hertz, Thrifty, Enterprise, etc., mostly the same kinds, so just pick one and go.

*Edit-I failed to mention this was for the car just under luxury, not the cheapest.  I'm sure the cheapest would be cheaper than that, but usually the difference in price between each level may only be 10 bucks over the whole rental, depending on the car, and that's my preference (2nd highest level).  and even if you opt for full size (3rd highest), it's typically a 35-40mpg car anyway, so you get a nicer car, that gets great mpg, for a few more quarters a day.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2014, 05:38:46 AM by lordrtype1 »

dodojojo

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Re: Make me punch my face about renting a car
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2014, 08:50:43 AM »
I use Carrental.com.

Enterprise offers a $9.99 a day deals for the weekends.  Not all locations offer this deal so you have to decide if it's worth the trip to get there.  A location about 3 miles away from me offers this deal occasionally but I don't want to deal with the hassle of getting there.  Some may want to.  I have an Enterprise in my neighborhood and I figure it's worth the extra $10 a day for a car. I can walk to and from the location.  I don't want to deal with Monday morning commute to the other location for the return.

Another trick I found with Enterprise is that if you can wait--weekend prices will drop Friday night.  This works for me because my rentals usually happen 2-4 times a year for when I want to run some car-friendly errands and do extra-curricular activities.  So I'm flexible with time.  A rate that is advertised at $38 all week may fall to $20 by Friday night.  Usually when I need a car at a set time, it's work-related and price isn't an issue, especially as I get the corporate rate.

marblejane

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Re: Make me punch my face about renting a car
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2014, 09:21:12 AM »
I think Enterprise will typically pick you up, although I'm not sure about the airport. I rented a car from Enterprise last month to get that weekend rate and they drove me to work after I brought the car back.

The Guru

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Re: Make me punch my face about renting a car
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2014, 11:04:00 AM »
Be sure to check their specials and do the math re: your particular situation.  My wife and I rented from Enterprsie a month ago for a long weekend, cross-state trip. We were able to get the price  down from $180 to 110 just by checking different combinations (weekend spl. w/unlimited mileage turned out to be the best for us given the distance we had to drive. The people at the local office actually helped me figure that out) YMMV. Literally.

dodojojo

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Re: Make me punch my face about renting a car
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2014, 12:09:38 PM »
I think Enterprise will typically pick you up, although I'm not sure about the airport. I rented a car from Enterprise last month to get that weekend rate and they drove me to work after I brought the car back.

That's true,  it's a good service.  I had forgotten about since my local Enterprise is a nice little walk away.  In my situation, going to the other Enterprise still means I have to deal with the Monday morning commute to return the car.

I also find the best deals are at the airport.  At least it's true for DCA on the weekends.  I used to live 4 metro stops/a convenient bike trip away from DCA and would take advantage of the weekend deals.  It was also convenient because the airport locations are open everyday which allowed me to rent a car for one day.  My local Enterprise isn't open on Sundays so I have to rent it for two days and return on Mondays.

huadpe

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Re: Make me punch my face about renting a car
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2014, 02:09:23 PM »
Airports are funny.  The large majority of rentals (except for somewhere like LAS) are business travelers.  That means they're way high on weekdays, and way cheap on weekends.  One thing you can try is to ask for AAA rate when you book.  I do this with Hertz pretty regularly for $5/day off or so, and they've never once asked for proof (I do in fact have AAA though).

seattlecyclone

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Re: Make me punch my face about renting a car
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2014, 03:11:44 PM »
I have gotten good deals through Priceline (naming my own price) and Hotwire (using their advertised price). In both cases you'll be choosing based on price alone, and they won't tell you which storefront to go to at the airport until after you pay.

Costco's travel site also has some good deals from time to time if you're a member.

Also, never pay for any of the add-ons they try to sell you at the counter. If you already own a car, your existing insurance probably covers a rental car just the same as your own car, and you can fill up your own gas tank for less money than their pre-paid option.

AlmstRtrd

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Re: Make me punch my face about renting a car
« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2014, 12:16:35 PM »
Another favorite technique of the rental companies is to ask you if you would like to upgrade for an extra few dollars. They will often ask you that because they don't have the size car you have reserved. If you say no thanks and they really don't have what you reserved, they will upgrade you for free. That is only a bad deal if you'll be putting a lot of miles on the car and what you are really interested in is full economy. Don't go for the GPS or E-Z pass (here in The Northeast many rentals have an E-Z Pass velcro-ed onto the windshield but you can pull it off and stick it in the glove compartment. You'll be charged more if you use it). If you have lead time, make a reservation and then try back in a few days to see if prices have come down. Sometimes you can even get a better rate at the last minute at an airport if you just make a call to the 800 number and ask for the best rate. My business partner often does this when we are waiting for luggage (it's good to work with someone who is cost conscious!). The rates change frequently based on inventory.

Finally, both my wife and I need to drive a lot for our work. In that situation, figure out what the real per-mile cost of using your own vehicle is. It's very often much cheaper to rent and put those miles on a car that doesn't belong to you.

Emg03063

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Re: Make me punch my face about renting a car
« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2014, 04:39:09 AM »
Relayrides.com

Nothlit

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Re: Make me punch my face about renting a car
« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2014, 06:29:20 AM »
Another favorite technique of the rental companies is to ask you if you would like to upgrade for an extra few dollars. They will often ask you that because they don't have the size car you have reserved. If you say no thanks and they really don't have what you reserved, they will upgrade you for free. That is only a bad deal if you'll be putting a lot of miles on the car and what you are really interested in is full economy.

This is totally true. On my last business trip, there were virtually no cars left at DCA. Due to a string of bad weather, people whose flights had been canceled ended up just renting cars and driving off into the sunset, or something. Anyway, I was supposed to have an economy car, but all they had left was a Ford Mustang. Not something I would ever rent or own myself, and my company certainly would not pay the ordinary rental rate for it, but I got it at the economy price and had fun driving it. :-)

highwayskies

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Re: Make me punch my face about renting a car
« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2014, 06:48:25 AM »
This is all very helpful advice!  Seems I didn't fall for any traps this time around, and maybe next time I'll take a closer look at Enterprise for such a weekend trip.  Thanks so much!