Car rental companies have responded to the economic climate by reducing the size of their fleets and actually raising their rates. Even in good times, Hertz, Avis, and National don't necessarily give you the best rate. Some planning and a little inside information can save you time and money.
Avoid paying an airport premium
- Try renting from a hotel location near the airport. Often, the rate for a car picked up there will be lower than the rate for one picked up at the airport; you also won't pay the airport tax. A number of large car rental agencies have locations at major hotels near airports (see the Marriott near LAX). Typically you can still return the car directly to the airport location with no penalty. OR
Rent from a location in town - You may also find a better rate at a car rental location in your destination city, typically in or somewhere near downtown. You simply take a bus, taxi or other form of transportation from the airport to that location.
You may work for a company whose travel and entertainment policy has requirements regarding car rentals, such as the preferred vendor, rates and insurance options you should adhere to. Your company may also have a corporate rate. If not, many of the rental car companies give a AAA discount and some give a discount with certain credit cards.
- The car rental companies charge a lot for insurance by the day. You are not obligated to take their insurance, but need to make sure you are covered, especially for liability to third parties. Check your employer's policy, any insurance your credit card company may offer, your personal car insurance or home/renters insurance policies. Some of them may already provide coverage. No point in paying twice.
Have any insider tips on rental cars?