What are the Best Ways to Save Money on Car Rentals?

Car rentals are one of those services that can really rip you off for a lot of money if you don’t know what you’re doing. On the other hand, if you do know what you’re doing, it’s not difficult to save a lot of money – As much as 35% even.

How do you save money on car rentals? Here are a few of the best ways.

Rent at Off-Airport Sites

Renting at an airport is going to cost you an arm and a leg. Sure, the car rental company might raise the price by 25% – But the real costs actually come from the state and from taxes. When you rent from an airport site, you’re going to pay a ton more fees than if you rented from an off-airport site.

If you’re just renting for a day or two, the extra fees might not bother you. If you’re renting for a week, however, it’s often worth taking a cab or a bus to a nearby off-airport rental site to rent your car.

You Can Still Drop Off

Keep in mind that even if you rent at an off-airport site, you can still drop your car off at the airport for no added cost. This is true of most big chains like Hertz or Avis.

Factor in Parking

A lot of people forget to factor in the cost of parking when they rent. The cost of parking in most hotels can be as much as $10 to $20 a night, substantially adding to your rental costs. If you’re not using your car every day, often the parking fees make it worthwhile to rent only on the days when you really need your car.

Loyalty Programs

There are two kinds of loyalty programs you should pay attention to. First, you have the loyalty programs from the car companies themselves. If you rent frequently, rent from just one company and collect loyalty points.

What a lot of people don’t realize however is the car companies often work with other organizations. Your AAA membership could get you discounts at car rentals, as could the airline you fly with most often. If you’re on another loyalty program or frequent flyer program, see if you could get a discount through their program.

Book on the Internet

Booking your car on the internet rather than just showing up in person is often cheaper. The downside is of course that you don’t get to drive the vehicle first.

Say “No” to Insurance

One of the most common add-ons to car rental agreements is insurance. Both on the phone and in person, the rental agency is very likely to try and sell you insurance. Generally, you can just say “no” to the insurance. Often time’s you’re already covered under your travel insurance. Drive carefully and use basic coverage – It’s more than enough.

Check Gas Prices

It’s common practice for rental agencies to charge an arm and a leg for gas. Make sure to double-check the per gallon price you’re paying for gas refills when you rent. If the rate is exorbitant, you may want to go elsewhere. Even if it’s not, you’ll probably want to top up your own gas tank before bringing it back to the shop.

Check the Car

If the car is damaged at all when you rent it, make sure it’s noted. If you have a smartphone, take a picture of the damage beforehand. A lot of people get stuck with bills for scratches or dings that really weren’t caused by them in the first place.

Go for the Small Car

When in doubt, go for the smallest car that works for you. If the main purpose of your car is to get from Point A to Point B, don’t get anything fancy. A small car is both cheaper to rent and cheaper to drive, as they generally get better mileage.

Check Priceline

Priceline can be a great place to save money for car rentals. It’s not always the cheapest place, however – So make sure to check both Priceline and other rental sites, including the company’s main site.

Spending just a little bit of time on research can save you a whole lot of money on your car rental.