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How to get the cheapest car rental
Getting the cheapest car rental deal requires some research, planning, and a few strategies to help you save money on your rental. Here are some tips to help you save money when renting a car:
1. Book Early:
Car rental rates often increase as the rental date approaches. Booking well in advance can help you secure lower rates.
2. Compare Prices
Use multiple car rental comparison websites and search engines to compare prices from various rental companies. Look for special deals, discounts, and promotions. Here are some good ones:
Discover Cars – I have used them several times and always got a great deal.
SkyScanner – As well as flights and hotels, SkyScanner is also a great place to get deals on car hire.
Rentalcars.com – Owned by the same people who run booking.com
Carsrentals.co.uk – Owned by Expedia
Ebookers – You can also search for deals through this popular holiday booking website
3. Flexible Dates:
If your travel dates are flexible, try adjusting your rental dates to see if there’s a significant price difference. Sometimes, renting on weekdays or avoiding peak travel seasons can result in lower rates. Surprisingly, it can sometimes work out cheaper to take the car for a bit longer, so play around with rental lengths if you have the flexibility.
4. Try Different Pick Up or Drop Off Times:
Some rental agencies will charge you more for a late early pick up or drop off, or out of hours drop off. Play around with different times. If you have an early flight to catch, maybe arrange a drop off during the day before and hang around the airport or book a cheap hotel if that works out cheaper overall.
5. Use Loyalty Programs:
If you frequently rent cars, consider joining loyalty programs offered by rental companies. Members often receive discounts and perks.
6. Bundle Deals:
Look for bundle deals that combine your car rental with flights and accommodations. Booking everything together can lead to substantial savings.
7. Check Local Agencies:
Smaller, local car rental agencies may offer competitive rates compared to major international chains. Research local options at your destination.
8. Avoid Airport Rentals:
Airport car rental locations tend to have higher prices due to additional fees and convenience. If possible, rent from a location a little further away from the airport, but close enough to get there by bus or taxi. Often, in some bigger airports, there is a free bus transfer to these locations.
9. Use Coupons and Promo Codes:
Do an internet search for car rental coupons and promo codes. You will be surprised what deals you can get.
10. Consider Off-Peak Locations:
If you’re visiting a city, consider picking up your rental from a location outside of the city centre. Rates can be lower at suburban or off-airport locations.
11. Choose the Right Car:
Rent the smallest car that comfortably accommodates your group and luggage. Smaller cars are usually cheaper to rent and more fuel-efficient. It can also happen that you are upgraded if the car type you chose is not available. I once rented a small car and was given a brand new VW Touran as nothing else was available. However, be prepared that you will most likely get what you booked, so be sure to book the size you need.
12. Review the Fuel Policy:
Pay attention to the rental company’s fuel policy. Some may charge significantly more for a full tank of gas if you return the car less than full, while others offer more competitive rates. Ideally, always return the car with the right amount of fuel, as no matter the rental company they will charge you more than the actual cost of fuel.
13. Same to Same or Full to Full:
Some car rental agencies offer a same to same fuel policy, which is usually cheaper but you need to return it with the same amount of fuel that was in the tank. So if you get it with a quarter tank, you must return it with at least a quarter tank. Full to full is easier of course, but your rental cost might be higher as a result.
14. Excess Insurance:
If you buy the excess insurance directly from the rental company it can often be more expensive, although also much simpler if you do have an accident. In this case you don’t have to worry about paying anything upfront. However, it can be cheaper to get the excess insurance from the agency or car rental comparison site. I bought mine from Discover Cars and it was a lot cheaper. The only difference is that had there been an accident the rental company would have charged my credit card for the damage and I would have to then claim it back from Discover Cars. No big deal, just takes a bit longer.
15. Get Yearly Excess Insurance:
Some insurance companies offer a yearly excess insurance policy. This is ideal if you are a frequent renter and will save you a lot of money. I got mine from insurance4carhire.com at a really good price. They were also very quick to process a claim I had when someone hit my rental car in a car park and ran off.
16. Check the Excess Deposit Amount:
It can often be cheaper to rent a car if you are prepared to put down a larger excess deposit. This is usually done with a credit card. They don’t actually take the money, but block it out. Once the car is returned and there is no damage, the amount is unblocked. If there is damage, then the fee is taken from the deposit. If you have several credit cards then you could use one just for this.
17. Check for Additional Fees:
Be aware of extra fees such as additional drivers, and underage driver fees. Consider whether you can decline or reduce these fees.
18. Use Credit Card Benefits:
Some credit cards offer rental car insurance coverage, which can save you money on additional insurance options offered by rental companies. Check your card’s benefits.
19. Inspect the Car:
Before accepting the car, thoroughly inspect it for any existing damage, no matter how minor. Document any issues with photos and have them noted on the rental agreement to avoid being charged for pre-existing damage.
20. Return the Car on Time:
Avoid late return fees by returning the car at or before the agreed-upon time.