Are you planning on traveling somewhere but don’t like to take public transportation?
You’re probably interested in leasing a vehicle yet want to know how to save money on car rental.
Many people prefer renting a car to riding a charter bus or flying because it comes with several pros including:
- Freedom to travel on your own schedule instead of a bus’s or train’s itinerary
- If you’re prone to motion sickness, you can keep symptoms at bay by driving.
- You don’t have to call and pay for a taxi or ride-share vehicle.
- You can store your suitcase(s) in the trunk instead of carrying them around.
- Driving in a new city makes you feel more like a local than a tourist.
Nevertheless, renting a car can take a real toll on your wallet. In fact, the average cost for car rentals in December 2021 was $81/day.
Fortunately, there are many simple ways you can rent cars without breaking the bank.
Whether you are trying to rent a car without a credit card or with one, car rental money saving experts agree that it doesn’t take much to reduce the cost of renting a vehicle.
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What will I learn?
Tips on How to Save Money on Car Rental
Follow these guidelines to ensure you get more bang for your buck while enjoying your ride.
1. Book your rental at the last minute
As far-fetched as it sounds, you might save a bunch by booking your vehicle rental at least a week in advance.
According to a Nerd Wallet study, customers could save about 15 percent by leasing a car a week beforehand instead three months ahead. Interesting.
2. Utilize a Price Comparison site
Here’s how each site works:
- Answer a few questions about yourself and what you want in your car rental.
- Wait a bit.
- Open your email and read the quotes sent to you.
In addition, AutoSlash includes a section for you to track the status of your vehicle should you agree to a quote.
- Type in your city.
- Choose “Same Drop-off” or “Different Drop-off”
- Pick a start rent date and an end rent date.
- Click “Update.”
4. Shop at car dealerships
Some car dealerships offer rentals in addition to cars for sale.
It’s kind of a deeply-kept secret, which is why many people don’t know about this option.
They usually provide vehicle rentals at a flat rate. So next time you stop by your favorite car dealership, don’t be afraid to ask about any rental specials.
5. Make sure you choose the best car for your family size
If you’re traveling alone or with another person, it doesn’t make sense to lease an SUV. On the flip side, it’d be inappropriate to rent a four-seater if you and five other people are going on vacation.
Consult this sample to get a good idea of the right-sized car for your situation:
- Economy vehicle: Fits one to two individuals
- Compact vehicle: Fits up to four individuals
- Standard vehicle: Fits four adults or a family of four
- SUVs/Vans: Fits seven to eight people
6. Stick with a bare bones rental
Most cars these days include cool amenities like GPS, satellite radio, and automatic transmission. But just because they’re convenient, it doesn’t mean you need them.
The aforementioned extras add more to the cost of your rental car. Consider leasing a vehicle without accessories and substitute them with your own:
- Use the Google Maps app in place of GPS
- Get a car with a manual transmission
- Play music on your phone via platforms like YouTube or an FM radio app
7. Seek cheaper car insurance (or do without it altogether)
The average price for rental car insurance is between $30 and $60 per day.
Purchasing insurance for a leased vehicle makes sense if you don’t already have car insurance. However, it may be a waste of money for those who own a car with insurance.
You can apply the insurance that covers your personal vehicle to your rental. But there’s a catch: it only works if you’re traveling for personal reasons, like to a relative’s house for Christmas.
Going on a business trip to another country? This situation is where you’ll need to buy car rental insurance.
Regardless of your situation, you might want to buy it to protect yourself in case of an accident.
When speaking with a rental agent, ask for insurance quotes. Then, choose the one you feel is a bargain.
8. Avoid airport rentals when possible
While airport rentals are handy features airports offer, they can cost you a bundle (about 20 percent or more compared to an off-airport location).
Why are they so pricey? It’s due to the extra fees and taxes. Forgo those expenses by leasing a car from a nearby rental facility.
If you’re lucky, there might be a rental location next door to the airport.
9. Sign up for a Vehicle Rental Loyalty Program
There are several perks you receive from a car rental loyalty program including:
- No-cost upgrades
- Skipping the line to pick up your vehicle
- Opportunities to earn points and rewards
- Deal alerts
- Member-only promotion codes and discounts
10. Book and rent a car via Turo
Turo is similar to Airbnb but for renting vehicles instead of vacation homes.
Some of the rental prices you’ll find through the site are more affordable than the ones on-site rental companies offer.
To rent via Turo, type your location into the “Where” box. Next, input the start/end dates and click on the magnifying glass icon to browse.
11. Take advantage of any discounts
Special discounts are available for groups like military members, seniors, and AAA (American Automobile Association) members.
Car rental businesses don’t advertise these discounts outright, but they exist. You never know what special discounts you may receive unless you ask.
12. If you’re a parent of young children, bring your own car seats
Rental car companies provide car seats for parents of young kids. Nevertheless, they cost extra, about $10 to $15 per seat.
The car rental fees themselves can be expensive enough, so why pay for something you can bring from home for free?
Many airlines offer free baby equipment, so consider this option, too.
13. Rent a U-Haul truck
Strapped for cash?
Get a U-Haul truck!
Car rentals cost hundreds of dollars a week. U-Haul offers truck rentals as low as $20 (a one-time payment, by the way).
Not only are U-Haul vehicles cheaper, but they also hold many more possessions than a car trunk. This makes them perfect for a months-long business trip in another state.
Plus, these trucks come in various styles like pickup trucks, cargo vans, 10-inch trucks, and more.
U-Haul vehicles are perfect for drivers looking to rent a car for 18 to 25 year olds, which leads to the last tip.
14. Download Hopper (Highly recommended for people <25)
What’s tough about being an adult driver under 25 is that many car rental companies charge you more fees. (This is even a bigger bummer if you’re currently attending college or vocational school.)
Fortunately, Hopper allows you to bypass that rule since it doesn’t hit young adults with penalty fees.
Additionally, the app offers deals like hotel savings, travel credits for referring friends, and even a voucher for new users.
Packing it Up!
Traveling is expensive enough with hotel fees, food, and clothing. Learning how to save money on car rental lessens your financial burden so that you can focus on relaxing or business.