5 Can’t Miss Tips on How to Get a Cheap Car Rental
Traveling for vacation this year? There is nothing like a family trip, to get away from distractions of work, and home, to bond as a family. It’s can be stressful to plan, and EXPENSIVE, have a family vacation. But you’ll inevitably have lots of great memories, and pictures / videos, that you’ll remember forever.
So you have the hotel and flights booked, but you still need a car. Car rental cost is usually an expense that vacation planners don’t put too much thoughts on. You’d be surprised how much you can save, with some planning and shopping around.
Here are the 5 Practical Tips on How to Get Best Car Rental Deals for Cheap!
1. Do Not Rent At Airport Location If You Can (Save 50% or More at Off-Airport Locations)
Getting off the plane, with all your luggage and kids in tow, you just want to get in the car and check into the hotel ASAP. Renting a car at the airport is often the easiest, but also the most expensive.
Rental car companies must pay all kinds of fees and taxes to have the privilege to serve you in the airport terminal, and those costs are passed right on to you!
You should always check nearby off-airport rental locations, when you’re booking. You will usually save on rental car cost. You’ll also save the time you would have to wait in line at the airport location too! The off-airport rental counters almost never have lines!
Here’s an example of what I found in San Diego.
But How do you Get to the off-airport rental car locations, when you don’t have a car?
That’s easy, just take an Uber!
You can even get your first ride for free by using this link:
In our example, it takes a 5 minute ride from the Airport to the Crown Plaza hotel, and $15 in Uber cost each way. Well worth the saving a couple hundred bucks if you ask me!
2. Always Check Multiple Vendors with Discount Contract Codes
When booking a rental car, the best car rental website is actually the rental company’s websites. Such as Alamo.com, Hertz.com or Avis.com. Each company’s website usually will have a “Deals and Offers” section.
There are usually some kind of discount for a 5 day + (weekly) or weekend rental, with a discount code.
But did you know there are lots of unpublished rental car coupon codes that are unpublished? Fatwallet.com has a great thread that list all the contract or CDP codes HERE.
When you reserve the car, enter the code in the “Contract” or “CDP” code field.
The best way to find rental car deal is to try a bunch of different codes to see which one produces the best results. Yes, it’ll take some time, and trial and error, but you can do it pretty fast with multiple tabs on your browser, and each tab for a different rental car company.
Note that the contract codes were made for specific organizations. Don’t worry, you won’t need to provide proof that you belong. I have never seen or heard anyone getting asked or bothered by the Rental Car company employees.
3. Join the Loyalty Club with a Throwaway Email Address.
Use a non-critical email address, and sign up for the loyalty clubs for the major Car Rental companies. You’ll get a bunch of offers in the mail, but since you won’t be checking that email often anyways, it shouldn’t bother you.
Just before you need to rent a car, open that email and go through the last few emails to see what kind of exclusive deals there are for their Club Members.
Another benefit is that Hertz, and maybe other companies too, allow you to skip the line and go straight to the car. Although this is usually at Airport locations.
4. Decline the CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) and Prepaid Gas
Rental car agents always tries to sell you their Rental Car insurance, and if you decline, they always scare you with the “You will be 100% responsible for any damage to the car” line.
Always decline the CDW insurance they offer, because the credit card you paid with already comes with rental car insurance, no matter what the agent says.
Another thing the agent will try to sell you is Prepaid Gas in case you don’t return with a full tank.
Always decline the prepaid gas as well. This is because you’ll only get charged if the gas meter indicator is not at full, then the rental car company will add gas until it’s 100% full and charge you for the gas it ads.
The meter will still say full even if you’re at 90% full. As long as you return the car at 90% full or higher (or as long as the indicator is at FULL or above), you will never get charged.
I recommend adding gas 10 to 20 miles before you need to return the car, so you return the car around 90% full level, but the indicator still says you’re full. This always saves us few $ on gas.
5. Need a Baby Seat? Use the Hertz AAA Code for a Free One
Traveling with a young child? You will need a car seat, even in a rental car. Rental Car companies charge anywhere from $12 to $15 a day for car seat rental!
Good news is that Hertz has a CDP code you can use (CDP code is “1”) that gives you 1 free child car seat.
If you need more than 1 car seat, you can choose to pay the additional per day car seat fee.
Another option would be to buy a cheap and light car seat, and bring it with you on the trip. Car seats are not subject to luggage fees. So you can check it in for free.
When we traveled with our two boys in the past, we bought this car seat.
It was less than $40, very lightweight, and it came with a thick PVC bag that we used to check-in.
Got any other travel or tips on money saving car hire? Let us here it in the comment section.