7 Rental Car Hacks for Business or Vacation

These Rental Car Hacks will save you hundreds of dollars on your vacation!

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Want to save money on your next rental car? You’re going to love these cheap car rental hacks. We’ve tried every one of these and they really work to cut the cost of your trip.

Renting a Van for Vacation – Our Story

How these Rental Car Hacks that saved us $200+! 

We were traveling to Richmond Virginia to speak at a conference and to spend a few days vacationing with family and friends.

There were six of us traveling, plus luggage for one week … and 24 cases of books.

Rental Car Hack #1: Compare Prices

We reserved a minivan for seven days with Budget using an Entertainment Book coupon for one free weekend day.

The Budget Rental Car discounted price was $654.

As a comparison, Annette’s dad, who was traveling with us reserved a full-sized SUV – Ford Expedition—through Costco without a coupon.

The Costco Price for the same seven-day rental was $485.77— savings $168 (25% off).

The bottom line is to check out several car rental agencies to get the best price. But for our money and time, we always check Costco and Budget first.

 

Related Article: Vacations on a Shoestring Budget

 

Rental Car Hack #2: Get The Walk-Up Rate

While making our reservation, a counter agent in Richmond, VA offered this tip.

Light bulb great idea.Since Budget and Avis are now one company, make a reservation at Avis, but walk up to the Budget counter in the airport and ask for the Walk-Up Rate for the minivan or SUV.

If this location had a surplus number of cars, they would be willing to rent them for a much lower rate. She quoted the same minivan that we reserved for $654, with a walk-up rate of $330. We tucked this information away, canceled our $654 reservation and went on our trip.

The Rental Car Walk-Up rate hack worked!

When we arrived at the Avis counter in Virginia, Steve asked for the walk-up rate for a large vehicle.

They didn’t have any extra full-sized SUVs on the lot, but they did have a minivan. The rate, including insurance, was $250.

We declined the insurance, but the agent had already started writing up the contract. By the time she canceled the contract, someone at the Budget counter rented the minivan to another customer.

Through an interesting series of events the counter agent, and then the manager, worked out for us to rent a 12 passenger van for seven days for $201 (this van ended up getting 16 mpg / a little less than the 20 mpg we were expecting from a minivan).

This turned out to be multiple blessings in one.

  1. The lower price: $201 versus $485.77 (saving $284) more than 50 percent.
  2. Another bonus: No Courier Service. We were going to hire a local courier service for $50 to move our books from a friend’s house to the convention center.
  3. Room for friends. We took a side trip to visit Walton’s Mountain Museum (the TV show The Waltons, was conceived in the small town of Schuyler, VA. near Earl Hamner’s home) and because of the size of the van, all nine of us (six in our family and three additional family friends) were all able to travel to the museum in one vehicle (saved gas).

The takeaway on the Walkup Rate

Make the best deal for a rental car before you travel, but always ask for the walk-up rate when you get to the counter. You may get a real bonus as we did!

 

Great Money Saving Idea


RELATED SAVINGS:
GABI WILL HELP YOU SAVE MONEY:
Quoting your Auto Insurance is a fast way to save money. We use GABI Insurance to get fast and easy comparison pricing.
Just connect your current policy with their quote tool and you’ll be on your way to saving money.

 

 

Please Share If This Helped You!

 

Rental Car Hack #3: Rent Off-Airport – Return to Airport

Light bulb great idea.Most cities tack on huge amounts of taxes and fees to airport rentals.

If you’re staying at a hotel that offers an airport shuttle use it to get away from the airport. Or take an Uber. Then set up your car rental with a city-based rental location.

You’ll save 20 to 30 percent.

Return the Car to the Airport

Usually, there is no extra charge if you choose to return the car to the airport when you’re done with your rental.

 

Rental Car Hack #4: Fill Your Own Tank

Most car rental locations will offer to let you return your car with the gas tank empty. But there is a price to be paid for that convenience. They usually tack on between 20 and 30 cents to the going price of gas.

We always fill up our tank about 10 miles from the airport. We’ve found that gas stations close to an airport are usually more expensive, but going to a station 10 miles away saves money. If you really want to ensure that you get the best price on gas, use GasBuddy.com to check all stations in your area.

 

Rental Car Hack #5: Video for Damage

Whenever we rent a car, Steve pulls out his cell phone can takes a video while he slowly walks around the car.

This can serve as excellent proof of the condition of the car if there is ever a claim by the rental company that there was a problem.

He deletes the video about 2 weeks later if there has been no communication from the car company.

 

Rental Car Hack #6: Decline Insurance

We rented a car in Chicago and had a minor accident. Our insurance covered the damages minus our deductible. The rental car rep said that they would try to charge for loss of use for the vehicle, but that most insurance companies won’t pay for it.

Bottom-line: Rental Car companies charge $15 to $40 per day for insurance coverage. If you have a full coverage insurance policy with good limits, and you’re a safe driver, let your insurance cover you.

 

Great Money Saving Idea


RELATED SAVINGS:
GABI WILL HELP YOU SAVE MONEY:
Quoting your Auto Insurance is a fast way to save money. We use GABI Insurance to get fast and easy comparison pricing.
Just connect your current policy with their quote tool and you’ll be on your way to saving money.

 

 

Please Share If This Helped You!

 

 

Rental Car Hack #7: Drive One-Way for Free

When Steve was in college he drove a Cadillac from Arizona to Chicago through a company called AutoDriveAway.

He was allowed to relocate the car for a wealthy family who chose to fly home rather than drive.

There are a couple of companies who still offer this one-way driving service.

1. Transfercar, lists vehicles that need to be moved from one destination to another; if you’re willing to do the driving, you can snag a car or camper for ultra-cheap—or even free.

2. AutoDriveAway is another option. They are looking for drivers for 3 different sizes of vehicles, with and without commercial driver’s licenses. See the AutoDriveAway application here.

 

For more great vacation ideas, consider our first book, America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money, it has a whole chapter on vacation ideas!

Also, the Money Saving Tips Vacation Page on our website!

 

Some of the links included in this post are from our sponsors. Read our disclosure policy.

Please Share If This Helped You!

These Rental Car Hacks will save you hundreds of dollars on your vacation!

Please Share If This Helped You!

2 thoughts on “7 Rental Car Hacks for Business or Vacation

  1. Nina

    If you are a US citizen you probably have membership like Costco of AAA that you are already paying for, you can use them to get a great deal on a rental car. You must always make sure to check you credit card benefits before buying the insurance, make sure you do not overpay for gas. Lastly, make sure to check the car for damages and take pictures before driving out the lot

  2. Blu K

    Thank you for sharing, as we usually travel with a large group as well, but the cost of large rentals has scared us away for the most part. I have a question, when you left on your trip, and then arrived in VA where you received the passenger van. Did you have to cancel the SUV rental, and if so, were there any penalties for doing so? Thanks again for sharing this great travel hack, I look forward to trying this out for my family.

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