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Whether it's a Vacation or Other Need, Rental Cars Don't Need to Be Expensive

Mar 11, 2019

To plan a vacation, business trip, or special event, the subject of transportation has to be addressed. Public transportation might be available from the airport or train station, but it could be non-existent at the destination. So, an alternative is needed.

This is when renting a car is put on the table. However, it brings some hesitancy in the form of cost. Not only do gas and tolls need to be factored in but also the car's daily cost and deposit. In addition, should an accident occur, there's a good chance the driver will be responsible to pay for the damages. In the end, renting a car can put people on edge and ruin a trip. But there's good news. Rental cars don't need to be expensive.

Lowest Priced Rental Cars

There are at least two ways to reserve the lowest priced rental cars. The first is the type of vehicle. In most cases, rental agencies charge the least for subcompact and compact cars. Besides having a lower daily cost, they tend to have better mileage. Thus, the potential for less fill-ups during the trip.

If a bigger party requires a larger vehicle, and the rental agency charges a premium price, the next step is to look online. Travel websites offer deals on larger vehicles as part of their normal operation or a special. It might not equal the amount paid for a subcompact, but it won't be as pricey as going directly to the agency. Also, consider last minute deals for vehicles. Rental companies would rather rent their vehicles at a discount than allow them to go unrented at all.

Booking a Bargain Rental Car

The best way to book a bargain rental car is to do so as early as possible. If done at the last minute the most likely result will be a maximum payment. This can be due to a lack of inventory or a "penalty" for booking late.

If this can't be done, look to the internet for offer codes or coupons. Plenty of rental agencies offer perks for booking a vehicle for several days. Or, if a higher rental fee is paid, they may offer a free upgrade to maximize the investment. This can provide perks such as a satellite radio, built-in GPS, or the move to a hybrid/electric vehicle.

Also look to bigger name travel websites like Expedia or KAYAK. These sites work well because they give the renter an opportunity to compare prices between agencies and different travel websites. It saves the individual time that should be used to book something as soon as possible.

Needless to say, be wary of something too good to be true. If a site advertises a car for as low as $9 a day there's a good chance it can cost more when taxes and extra fees are added. In addition, though they say their reservations are accepted by agencies, the opposite can be true. It's best to read as many reviews as possible for these sites before choosing them.

The Most Popular Rental Car Providers

If searching for the top rental car provider for a reservation, there are seemingly many different companies to choose from. However, despite that, there are some which tend to stand out:

  • Alamo is at the top for both customer satisfaction and cost. Prices for their budget or compact models have run approximately seven percent less than its competitors.
  • Alamo's sister company, Enterprise, is the second most popular. They also rank well in customer service; however, their rates are slightly higher. They do provide breaks if drivers rent for a month or more. On the downside, if a renter doesn't have a credit card, Enterprise requires at least two pieces of billing information to allow it to go on a bank card.
  • Budget is just that -- a provider of low-cost rental cars. They provide the basics to drivers. Should they want more in their rental -- satellite radio as an example -- it costs extra. Yet, this is offset for daily averages that are 25 percent less than competitors, including its parent Avis. This is boosted nearly 10 percent if the reservation is paid for at the time of booking.

Among the other national brands, Dollar tends to offer some of the least expensive rentals on a daily basis. They are joined by National, Thrifty, Ace, Advantage, and Payless. While their rates are low, customer service varies. Those looking for bargain rental cars may wish to avoid both Hertz and Avis. While Hertz's rates are a bit higher than the other companies, Avis has the most expensive rentals around.