After years of researching how to get the best deals on car rentals, I’ve finally settled on an easy three-step process for getting the lowest price with the least hassle.
In this post, I’ll walk you through my method and show you an example of how I saved on our recent rental!
When Should I Book My Rental Car?
First, you might be wondering how far in advance you need to book your rental car.
I have never seen an instance when booking more than 6 weeks in advance was helpful. You are often able to book a reservation without a credit card and cancel it without penalty. If you are concerned about availability, you can always book in advance then cancel later.
Depending on the time of year, it may pay to wait until a week or two before your trip to book. I would suggest this during off-peak times and NOT during spring break or summer travel seasons. I recently had a price drop from $130 to $72 just a week before my Fort Lauderdale rental in January!
Now here are the three steps I follow to get the best price on my car rental.
1) Use An Aggregator Site to Find Companies With Best Prices
I use this search to identify the companies that are likely to offer the best deal for my rental.
Several rental companies often have a corner on the market in certain areas. When I search on Orbitz, I’m looking for the two or three companies that are offering the best prices for my rental.
In this case, we were looking for a week-long SUV rental for our upcoming road trip to Disney World. I noted that Hertz and Enterprise were the best options by far. $204 for a week-long SUV rental isn’t bad, but I can do better.
2) Use Promo Codes to Get An Even BETTER Price
I can almost always get a better price than what is quoted on a travel consolidator such as Orbitz by using promo codes.
My go-to source for promo codes for car rentals (and everything else I purchase online) is Retail Me Not. I have used their site for YEARS and I strongly suggest signing up for their newsletter to get a jump on the best deals!
I start by searching Retail Me Not for the rental car companies I noted in step one. In my case, Enterprise didn’t appear to be offering any promotions that would help me save on my trip.
But my search for Hertz promo codes returned a bunch of promising results.
To get access to all of the codes for a site, just click on any one of the blue “Show Coupon Code” buttons.
This uncovers all of the available promo codes for Hertz. I jot down any promo codes that would apply to my specific rental.
Since I am renting for a week, I noted three different codes that might give me a good deal on this length of rental.
Now I head over to the Hertz site to try out these codes!
3) Book Directly With The Rental Company
I personally prefer to rent directly from the company to minimize any complications. I also sometimes receive even better discounts when I’m logged in to the rental company’s membership program.
On the Hertz site, I try out each of the three promo codes I got from the Retail Me Not site. Each rental company is different, but on the Hertz site you enter the codes as “Promotional Coupons” in the drop-down menu.
After trying out each promo code, I found the one that offered the best price. I was able to save an additional $30 with a promo code, bringing my week-long rental cost down to $174.
It is definitely worth this price to keep the miles off of our own vehicle on the trip from North Carolina to Florida and back. Do you ever rent a car for a road trip to save wear and tear on your own cars?
Please leave any comments or questions about saving money on car rentals below, or you can always contact me on The Frugal South’s Facebook page!