How to save on car rental - our experience

How We Rented a $2000 Car for $775

In Travel smarter, TRAVEL TIPS by Jurga2 Comments

Did you ever rent a car and had a feeling that it would have been cheaper buying one? Do you want to save on your next car rental? In this post I share our recent experience and tell you how we saved 60% on our rental car.

When planning a road trip overseas we usually contact several travel agencies for an offer including flights, car rental, and hotels. We compare the offers, check prices online, and then choose the best price/quality offer for our trip. That’s what we did when preparing for our upcoming trip to the USA. We made an itinerary and contacted three travel agencies for a price offer.

We have been traveling for almost 15 years now and have used numerous travel agencies for our trip bookings over the years, but we have never seen such outrageous prices as this time. The dollar has gotten stronger and we haven’t been to the US for a while and maybe more things have changed while we were discovering other parts of the world…But 2000 USD for a car for 2 weeks… I just couldn’t believe that traveling to the US has become so expensive.

I am not going to go into all the details regarding the prices we received for the flights and hotels, I’ll just focus on the car rental in this post.

Car Rental Prices: Travel Agency vs. Booking Online

We were looking to rent a minivan for our family for 16 days, pick-up and drop-off at different locations. Here are the offers we received from three different travel agents (same car, same conditions, 300 USD one-way fee):

Did I mention we were looking to rent a car and not to buy one?
  • 1.660 USD (1.242 EUR + 300 USD)
  • 1.927 USD (1479 EUR + 300 USD)
  • 2.032 USD (1581 EUR + 300 USD)

 

Car rental prices vary a lot depending on where you look

Car rental prices vary a lot depending on where you look

I just couldn’t believe those prices, but since all three offers were similar, I started to doubt. Nevertheless I checked several websites of different car rental companies and found that the prices were considerably lower than the ones in the offers from the travel agencies. Even then, the price range was 1000-1500 USD and some offers didn’t even have the one-way fee included. I quickly learned that the difference in price is tremendous depending on where you look…

 

How to save on car rental

The car we finally rented was 60% cheaper than the original offer

We left the car rental for the time being and concentrated on the flights. Once the flights were booked I saw that airlines also offered possibility to rent a car and decided to try it out. Just for information: you don’t have to fly with the specific airline in order to rent a car or book a hotel through their website. Several websites further I stumbled upon British Airways and BINGO! The price I found on the BA website was the cheapest on the market. We could book the car we wanted, 0 USD liability, drop-off costs and second driver included for 545 GBP, which is approx. 775 USD at today’s rate. That’s a discount of more than 60% compared to the most expensive offer we got.

How can you save on car rental

  • There is no single company or a search engine that will guarantee that you get the best deal on your car rental every time. It’s important to check at least a few sources before you book as there are big variations in prices, and you don’t want to miss a deal.
  • Another way to save on car rental is by looking at alternative pick-up locations. Sometimes you can save a lot of money by picking up your car in the city rather than at the airport. This discount can become quite significant if you are renting a car for a longer period of time.

What’s the right price for a rental car? How do you rent a car and get the cheapest deal?

In my experience, there is no right price, and there is no best deal. The secret is to look around, compare, and find an offer you feel comfortable with. It’s unrealistic to hope for a 500 dollar deal for a car that normally costs a 1000. If you are lucky, you might rent it for 800. But even if you pay a 1000, you will know that it was the correct price simply because you looked and compared and didn’t just rely on the first offer (or the first three in our case).

Are you looking to rent a car? I recommend starting with Momondo or Expedia, but don’t forget to check British Airways website as well –  you might get just as lucky as we did.

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Read more:
How to Travel Better and Cheaper: Become Your Own Travel Agent

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How We Rented a $2000 Car for $775 was last modified: February 22nd, 2016 by Jurga

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