How to rent a car for less

Frugal Car Rental

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

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Does anyone have any tips on renting a car out of town inexpensively?

Get Away from Airport

If you research online, you can probably find a company that rents used instead of newer cars. As long as the cars run and are clean, why not? They are usually no more than $15 or $20 a day. I also found a company whose rental office is a mile from the airport in Fort Lauderdale. They charged much less than large companies because they are paying the high airport fees. They offered a shuttle to their office, so it took me only an extra 20 minutes or less to save $50 for the week.
Barbara in CT

Start Online

I always check Travel Zoo for weekly deals. They list them by rental car company and sometimes by city/state. I recently rented a compact car from Budget for a week and paid only $50 as a base rate because I had a $30 coupon off a weekly rental. I also use the pre-paid fuel option since it is usually cheaper than the pump price as long as I know I will use it up. My total cost for a week including a tank of gas and taxes was only $107.

Insider Report on Frugal Car Rental

I work for a car rental company and have the following suggestions on frugal car rental:

  1. Check with your relatives. I can get up to 50% off the regular rates for my immediate family with lesser amounts for more distant relations.
  2. Reserve the smallest car you can manage and then cross your fingers that it will not be available and you will get a free upgrade.
  3. Decline the rental companies insurance if you already carry the equivalent insurance and you are willing to pay for damages that may occur should you have an accident.
  4. Avoid optional add-on fees, such as contents insurance or roadside assistance.
  5. Don't rent at the airport terminal. Instead, use a close by rental site to avoid extra fees, which only apply to airports.
  6. Avoid toll roads as there may be administration fees added on when the rental company receives the toll fee bill and charges it to your credit card.


Rent from and Return to Same Place

The best tip I can give regarding frugal car rental is to rent and return from the same location whenever possible. We recently took a trip and our travel plans were somewhat open and I made several inquiries from a number of rental car agencies. We finally settled on Hertz (who accepted our AAA discount) and were able to keep the car for twice as long at half the price just by renting and returning it to the same location. To rent the car for four days at location A and return it to location B was going to cost $340. But to rent the car for seven days and return it to the same location was $168! Unbelievable! It was definitely worth it to amend our travel plans, and we ended up being thrilled with the convenience of keeping the car longer. Enjoy your traveling!

Use All Available Discounts

You can get a discount with an AAA card or with an AARP card. Also, rental cars discount count coupons are in Entertainment Books. My AAA Plus Card got me 15% off my rentals with Enterprise.

Name Your Own Price

I actually recently rented a car through via the name-your-own price feature. I found the prices at all of the potential rental agencies, and then requested a price significantly lower than the lowest I could find. It worked, and I got the rental for about $11/day less than the lowest price I could find elsewhere. That amounted to more than a 30% savings.

Only problem with using is that you have to pay upfront (when you book with the rental agency, you pay when you pick up the car). Rental rates can change frequently and could potentially go lower than what you're paying. This time I figured that the rate wasn't likely to drop that much.

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