An often overlooked vacation or business expense is a rental car. Without careful preparation the cost can sink your trip. There are a few good methods to insure that you don't blow your budget on your vehicle and have money left over to enjoy your trip!
Things You Will Need
In order to the best deal on a rental car you will need patience, phone, internet, credit card and time.
The first thing to look for is a package deal. Just like your cable company, your travel provider wants to sell you more goods and services. These companies partner with the rental car providers and through mass purchasing power are able to get you a better deal as part of a package then you could get if you went directly to the car rental company. Most online travel sites and travel agencies will offer a deal if you get your car with your hotel and flight.
Another tip is to choose the right car for your needs. Generally, a compact or subcompact car will be the least expensive. If you are traveling light in both luggage and people then this is a great option. You will not only save money up front in the rental fee, but in gas with a better gas mileage vehicle. If you are to embarrassed to drive around in a tiny car, just remember that you are not at home and nobody knows who you are.
If a small car is out of the question then check around at all of the online websites for the best price. This will also help your research into figuring out what it should cost for any rental car. Then, when you are putting together your package deal you will know what a car should cost and know if you are getting the best deal possible.
The next item to consider is how long you will need the car. The best deals are usually based on a full weeks rental. So, if your trip is 5 days, often times it will be less expensive to use the weekly rate and reserve the car for 7 days. Of course, you can return it early and don't need to keep it a full week. Other specials may involve longer term rentals or weekend rates. Also consider if you will need a car for everyday of your trip or if there is public transportation available. By limiting the amount of time that you need a car you will save money!
Be sure to be on the lookout for loyalty clubs. Many rental car companies have programs to reward frequent customers. Joining the club is usually free and often has extra benefits, discounts and coupons that aren't available to non-members. You may also receive prizes and free rentals for using their service.
Finally, when renting a car the rental company may try to sell you insurance. Before you leave home, check with your credit card company. Many credit cards offer insurance on rental vehicles for free or a small fee (much lower then the rental company). It is also a good idea to check with the company that insures your regular automobile. They may provide extended coverage on rentals. These steps will save you money at checkout and give you peace of mind as you ride off in your rental car.
Getting the best deal on a rental car isn't difficult. It just takes some research and patience to get the best deal.
Tips & Warnings
Some companies may offer a discount if you agree to accept an older vehicle. Generally, these are only a few years old and are still very nice cars. It never hurts to ask about what they may have available.