Having rented a car to take a road trip last summer, there is one lesson I learned the hard way: The advertised rate for a rental car is a far cry from what you’ll often pay to drive the car off the lot. Hidden add-ons, taxes, and insurance fees are just a few of the additional charges you might be expected to pay for that stripped down rental hatchback.
To help make sure you don’t get taken at the rental car counter before you set out for that summer road trip, we’ve shared a few tips from travel expert Catharine Hamm of the Los Angeles Times below. Here are her four rules for cutting rental car costs:
- Hamm advises travelers to do their homework and see whether off-airport rentals are less expensive. Airport concession fees can be steep so consider taking public transportation into town and renting a car once you get there.
- If a car rental company offers a pay-in-advance rate, Hamm recommends jumping on it. Hamm also says you can save some money by bidding and booking rental cars on an “opaque” site such as Priceline or Hotwire. The downside of using an opaque site? If your plans change, you’re still footing the bill for the rental.
- If you’re looking to book a one-way rental, make sure you ask plenty of questions in advance. Some rental companies in areas of high movement – such as Florida and the New York metro area – don’t charge more for one-way rentals. Other companies, however, may charge a little extra for a variety of reasons such as inventory management costs, mileage, and costs to return the vehicle to the original location. In you are looking at a higher cost for a one-way rental, Hamm suggests renting and returning to reduce your rate.
- Think outside the box. Consider a combination of a car and another mode of transportation to save money.
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