Many travelers are used to picking up a rental car for traveling. Indeed, this is a great choice in many respects: firstly – it’s simple, secondly – it’s convenient, and thirdly – it’s cheap.
Now you can book a car in several ways – either online or through a special car rental app. A rental car gives you freedom of movement and comfort during your trip. Moreover, an attractive price is another advantage of renting a car.
However, you can enjoy cheap car rental only with the right approach to booking. Whether it’s Alamo car rental, Avis car rental or Enterprise, the price depends not only on the provider. There are many other things that affect the price, and there are several ways to make it much lower. Keep reading and you will find out how to save money on your next car rental…
Book in advance
Similarly to reserving a hotel room, it’s better to book a car in advance: in this case, you have a wider range of offers, including budget ones. This is the key to find a car to your taste and the desired price tag.
The best time to start your search is 2-3 weeks before the expected start of the road trip. If you rent a car at the last moment, the cheaper options are likely to be sold out and you will have to pick up a more expensive car. You can often get a discount if you pay for your order in advance. This will allow you to additionally lower the final price.
Plan the date and duration of your trip
When planning your trip, consider some of the pricing policy features. A rental car is always more expensive on weekends, pre-holidays and holidays, and in high season, when there’s a high demand.
Therefore, do the opposite to get a cheap car – start your trip on weekdays and in low season. The length of the trip also matters. The price of each individual day will be cheaper if you rent a car for a longer period. A weekly rental is the optimal period.
You have the opportunity to rent a car in 2 ways:
- directly on the websites of the providers – Sixt, Hertz, Europcar, Budget, Avis, Alamo, Dollar.
- through search aggregator websites that are intermediaries.
As a rule, it’s more convenient to search the intermediary’s website, since they accumulate offers from dozens of different companies in one place. Plus, their price is usually cheaper than when ordering a car directly, since car rental providers offer discounts for attracting customers.
You should also pay attention to small local companies. They often don’t have offices at airports and train stations, but they can boast of low rates. However, there may be pitfalls, for example, insurance covering only 50% of the cost, or limited mileage. In any case, don’t choose right away, but read reviews, compare prices, and check car rental conditions.
Read the booking conditions carefully
Most of the claims of those who rented a car are connected with inattentive reading of the car rental terms. At the time of booking, you must read everything, including the smallest print – as a rule, this is where the most important thing is written.
Some companies don’t charge in advance, but there are those who immediately write off the prepayment at the time of booking. Therefore, after 5-7 days, you can no longer cancel your reservation without losing money. Preferred conditions are when you don’t have to pay for anything before you appear at the counter.
Choose the right car
Renting a car is a bit like a lottery. You can never be sure that you will get the model you have chosen on the website. Usually the class and the category of the car are indicated only. The company warns you about the options at the time of booking: “Hyundai i30 or similar”, “Subaru Liberty or similar”, “Mitsubishi Outlander or similar”, so there’s no cheating.
Nevertheless, there are many complaints from people who order one car and receive another on the spot. If you need a particular brand of car – look for “Guaranteed car models”. In the United States, this is most often a Ford Mustang.
Please note: if at the pick-up point it turns out that the car is too small for your needs, you will have to pay for an upgrade. It will be more expensive than if you originally ordered a large car on the website.
Check out your insurance
This is perhaps the most important point of booking. Basic insurance, which is usually included in the rental price, covers car damage and theft, as well as liability protection. As a rule, insurance has an excess amount: this is the amount you pay if the car is damaged, while the insurance company will pay the rest.
Please note: the basic insurance doesn’t include damage to glass, wheels, interior, roof and bottom of the car, so you may be charged an additional fee for the slightest chips and scratches. In order to avoid troubles, you can buy full insurance right away, which includes all types of damages.
Alternatively, it’s possible to choose the cheaper option: purchase insurance from a third-party company – for example, WorldWideInsure or Questor Insurance.