With the holiday season just around the corner, a lot of folks have started planning trips out of town to visit family and friends. Whether traveling by plane or by car, chances are more than a few of these folks are considering renting a car for all or a portion of the trip. To help make sure these travelers don’t overpay at the rental car counter, MainStreet has put together a handful of tips to help them save money.
Here’s a brief look at their suggestions:
- Go Small – According to travel experts, travelers can often save money by renting with a small, local agency rather than a national chain. Experts advise using a trip planning site such as Priceline or Kayak to find the best deal. They also suggest scrolling through all search results to find rates from smaller agencies that are sometimes buried beneath quotes from more popular rental agencies.
- Snag Rewards – Travel resource Budget Travel recommends joining a rental rewards program, even with smaller companies.
- Think “Sharing” – Need a car for just a few hours rather than a few days? Consider car sharing. Companies such as ZipCar target groups such as students and urbanites that only need to use a car to run an errand or get across town. These companies typically charge a membership fee and customers can rent cars directly from the lot. Most rentals are charged by the hour, however, so if you need the car for more than a day you might want to look into a different option.
- Pay Online – Travelers who book their reservations online and pay using a “pay now” feature can save up to 35% on their rental. Just be sure to read the fine print: Altering your original reservation could lead to additional fees. You should also keep in mind that “pay now” discounts apply to the base rate only and don’t cover extras.
- Pick-up Early – By booking a rental car for early pick-up (and reserving the cheapest model you can live with), you may end up with a bigger car for the same price. How? The car you originally rented may not have been returned and the company is obligated to give you a car for the price you booked.