Finding the Best Deals with Rental Cars

In order to produce the podcast and keep content up free for you, I work with partners so this post may contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure for more info.

What a fantastic weekend!

We just got back from attending my cousin's wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony and celebration. So happy we went.

Getting a Deal with Our Car Rental

Going on a family trip soon? Find how you can save money and get the best price for your car rental! #travel #family #save

After running the numbers for plane tickets and taxi fares for six people (my mom and sister came too), renting a car made the most sense.

We scheduled an extra couple of days and made this a family road trip.

I want to share tips to help you snag the best deal on your next car rental!

Don't Be Loyal to a Brand

When it comes to finding the best deal, you're better off shopping around between the different companies.

To give you an idea, here are the prices for a compact car that I pulled from Priceline (one of my favorite sites to use).

Be willing to chop around to get the lowest price on your car rental.
Hmmmm..wonder what's a great value? Could it be the one with the lowest price?!

With so many travel comparison sites and tools out there it is even easier to get several quotes quickly.

Unless a brand has a reputation for bad service, I'm considering it when looking at car rentals.

Going on a family trip soon? Find how you can save money and get the best price for your car rental! #travel #family #save

Rent Only What You Need

With the screenshot I grabbed this morning, you can see there are big differences with certain classes.

Don't pay more than you have to on car rentals!

As a rule of thumb, the smaller the car the lower price you have to pay. If you want the best deal, rent a car that fits your needs.

When it was just the two of us, we went with a compact car. Even as a family of four we've been happy with compact sized cars for the most part.

While not guaranteed, we have been able to upgrade our cars depending on availability. One trip we drove up to Chicago in a Ford Mustang, but was paying the price for a Focus. Score!

Winning Bids on Car Rentals

Since we've been saving money by bidding on our hotels on Priceline, we also use them for our car rentals.

I've found three things that has really helped us:

  • Start early. Since Priceline makes you wait 24 hours between similar bids, give yourself a buffer.
  • Be reasonable.We love getting a good deal, but we also like saving time. Priceline does let you see recent bid wins which give you a ballpark idea.
  • Be a little bit flexible. While still only focusing on just the size we need, sometimes I've been able to get an extra bid in by changing up the car class. For example, every day I made  bid on a mini-van and then I made one for a full sized SUV.

The best thing I like about using Priceline is that by prepaying, I come out ahead than if I went directly with the car companies' sites.

Avoid the Needless and Pricey Extras

The rental company can make some more money by upselling extras.

Some of them may be handy, but there is no need to pay twice for something.

For example, you may already have rental car coverage with your insurance.

Go ahead and give them a quick call to check. It can save you a ton of money.

If your current provider doesn't give you that coverage, it may be time to shop around for a better deal on car insurance.

Car seats are another fee that can tacked on, so it's probably a good idea to just use your own. You should check out Consumer Reports' guide on car seats and car rentals.

You can also skip on the extra fees for satellite radio and navigation as you most likely already have devices to take care of those functions.

Thoughts on Car Rental Deals

I'd love to get your take on car rentals. How many of you rent cars for vacations? Any more tips on scoring the best deal?

About Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..

2 comments add your comment

  1. We haven’t had to rent a car in years, but it sounds like many of the same variables that I’ve used in the past still work. Great advice!

    • Thank you: )
      I have to say this trip opened my eyes with how pricey bigger cars can be! SUVs and mini-vans are crazy expensive. I wanted to pass on these tips to make sure no one pays full price.