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7 great tips for saving on car rentals

Posted In:  automotive  travel

Whether you are planning to go on vacation or traveling for another reason,  you probably want to rent a car for the convenience and privacy it offers, as opposed to public transportation. You'll get the most value for your rental car by using discounts and promotional codes, and by making some smart choices. Here are seven ways you can save on your next rental car.

 

Search for Discounts and Promo Codes

Online coupons and codes are promotional tools that let you save money on many types of services. Car rental companies often use these codes to offer specials. Whenever you see a box for a promotional or coupon code at checkout, you should look around to see if you can find a code to use. Codes are usually comprised of a series of letters and numbers. Try this search string for promo codes, and add the name of the rental company to the end of your search or just type in "rental cars". Just like with paper coupons, coupon and promotion codes expire and are replaced with new offers. That’s why this search is ordered by most recent offers.

Car rental discounts are often available through VIP memberships and customer loyalty programs as well. One example is AAA. Be sure to search online before booking so you don’t miss out on any programs that might give you additional discounts.  

 

Refuse Additional Insurance 

Usually, your existing automobile policy covers rentals. You will still be responsible for the deductible, but that's no different than driving your own car. There are rare instances when you should purchase the rental car insurance on top of rental insurance you already have.  Call your agent to make sure first, but this will save you a ton of money.

You might also get free rental insurance from your credit card company when you use the card to pay for your rental. American Express is well-known for this money-saving feature. You should understand, however, that the rental coverage on your credit card is not always sufficient to cover you in an accident. Find out the amount of insurance coverage available and any exclusions that might cause problems before you rely on this insurance.

 

Don't Call, Search Online 

In most cases, you'll find the best rates online, and you can compare rates more easily. Trying to call around for discounts is likely to be a waste of time. In many cases, agents are not fully trained to find you the best deal. They may tell you the wrong thing. But when you search online, you have the offer in writing.

 

Downsize  

It can be tempting to rent a nicer car to treat yourself, but the cheapest rates are typically only available on the smaller cars. You'll get better gas mileage and a better rate.

 

Check Weekly Rates 

Even if you are only renting a few days, weekly rates often provide discounts. Find out the weekly rate before committing to the rental contract. You may find a weekly rate is less than renting four days at a daily rate. That also lets you keep the car a few more days if you need it without incurring additional costs.  

 

Use Package Deals

With large online travel sites like Travelocity and Expedia, package deals that combine Air+Car, Hotel+Car, or Air+Hotel+Car are much cheaper than buying each separately. See how you can combine these items to save on your entire vacation, rather than just on the rental car. You could save hundreds.

 

Don't Rent at the Airport

Airport locations charge a lot more than more distance offices. Renting from locations farther away from the airport will net a lower rate, and let you avoid any airport mandated add-on fees. With many companies offering you a free ride, there's no reason not to choose a rental office further away.

 

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