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Rent A Car In The US - How To Get The Best Deal?  
User currently offlineL410Turbolet From Czech Republic, joined May 2004, 5694 posts, RR: 18
Posted (8 years 1 week 11 hours ago) and read 5576 times:

Let's say someone travels to the US (NYC) for the firtst time, plans to stay in New York City for a few days and then rent a car and do some traveling for a week or so. My experience with renting a car in the US is very limited and browsing through websites of Alamo, Hertz, Avis, etc. and also expedia.de .com .co.uk, octopus, lastminute I noticed there is HUGE difference in offered rates not only between individual companies but to my surprise also between e.g. hertz.com and hertz.cz, expedia.com, expedia.de respectively.
What is the trick how to get a best deal? The people traveling are somewhat flexible as far as the rental dates - let's say +- 1 day.
Is it better to look up the best deal via internet and book in advance or is it better just walk up to the rental company's airport desk / city office and ask for a rate?
What about last minute deals on rental companies' websites? Are they worth paying attention to them?

18 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineANCFlyer From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (8 years 1 week 11 hours ago) and read 5575 times:

Definitely book in advance.

As for the best advance deal, just shop around. I use Travelocity most of the time, I've found that - for my destinations - they have a better rate than Expedia and the individual rental car companies.

Plus, if you happen to have a "Status" card, e.g. National Emerald Club or Hertz #1 Club Gold, often you're upgraded to a larger/better car for the lesser price. Not always, but often.


User currently offlineLuv2fly From United States of America, joined May 2003, 12100 posts, RR: 49
Reply 2, posted (8 years 1 week 11 hours ago) and read 5571 times:
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Most of the rental car web sites, offer you to sign up for last minute specials to be emailed to you.


You can cut the irony with a knife
User currently offlineTPAnx From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 1021 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (8 years 1 week 11 hours ago) and read 5559 times:

DO NOT rent a car for use in NYC. Use public transportation, and rent when you're ready to leave. In NYC, a car will just be a headache.
Read (somewhere) that some experienced travelers always ask for the cheapest (smallest) car possible, with the hope that the agency won't have any, and that they'll get a free upgrade. Sounds risky to me. Don't know how many people are traveling with you..but with luggage and all, you probably don't want to get stuck in something small. Yes, book in advance.
TPAnx



I read the news today..oh boy
User currently offlineDesertJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 7776 posts, RR: 16
Reply 4, posted (8 years 1 week 11 hours ago) and read 5555 times:

The OP said they'll be using the car for when they are not in NYC.

If you have any status in any airline or hotel frequent flier/stayer programs there are often discount codes made available. As a Marriott Rewards Silver Elite I can get some nice rates at Hertz, usually as cheap or cheaper than some of the lower cost rental car places like Enterprise or Dollar. Also you may want to be careful about which dates you choose. Most agencies will have more discounts and cheaper rates on weekends.... certainly would be the case in NYC. You just need to shop around a bit. And I would reserve the size car you need, the price difference between a compact (think Hyundai Accent, Chevy Aveo) and say a standard/midsize will generally be between 5 to 10 dollars a day. If you can afford a transatlantic flight, you can afford a another 50 bucks on a rental.



Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
User currently offlineCoal From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 2020 posts, RR: 9
Reply 5, posted (8 years 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 5548 times:

Quoting DesertJets (Reply 4):
You just need to shop around a bit. And I would reserve the size car you need, the price difference between a compact (think Hyundai Accent, Chevy Aveo) and say a standard/midsize will generally be between 5 to 10 dollars a day. If you can afford a transatlantic flight, you can afford a another 50 bucks on a rental.

Do shop around the different cars. Two weeks ago I was in California and needed to rent a car for two days. Base rate for a Chevy Aveo (a tiny, tiny car) was around US$200, while the base rate for an SUV was US$52 per day. Of course, you might want to consider gas into the equation. I went for the SUV.

Coal



Nxt Flts: VA SYD-CBR-SYD | CX SYD-HKG-SYD | QF SYD-DFW | AA DFW-MIA-DFW | QF DFW-SYD
User currently offlineBHXFAOTIPYYC From Portugal, joined Jun 2005, 1644 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (8 years 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 5544 times:

I use Holiday Autos .co . uk version out of the UK, as they seem to beat just about anything I can get as an agent. The .co.uk site also seems to beat the price of the .pt version of the the same outfit, although I think Holiday Autos is just a franchise name. I like them because I can get no-BS all inclusive rates which cover everything. When renting a car in the US be extremely careful as you really don't want to get a cheap rate on the base rental only to get shafted heavily on the CDW / ins. extras etc.


Breakfast in BHX, lunch in FAO, dinner in TIP, baggage in YYC.
User currently offlineSprout5199 From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 1852 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (8 years 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 5535 times:

I would check the all of the car sites. I rented a car from Thrifty 3 weeks ago to take my daughters back to their mom. $16 a day unlimited miles for an econamy car and 10 cents more per day for the next size up(was a neon). Talk about a no brainer. The quote was one price, and when I picked it up it was $10 dollars cheaper(had it for 2 days) after all the fees and taxes.

It wasn't a bad car, not real small, ok speed, great on gas. Plus the girls liked it cuz it was different.

Dan in Jupiter


User currently offlineAsstChiefMark From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (8 years 1 week 9 hours ago) and read 5526 times:

Most of the time, Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity, Orbitz, and Hotwire don't offer anything cheaper than the rental car company websites. Sometimes they're more expensive due to commission and service charges.

Over the past few years, I've found two websites that offer the best deals 90% of the time.

http://www.carrentals.com
http://www.acerentacar.com

Mark


User currently offlineJJJ From Spain, joined May 2006, 1817 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (8 years 1 week 9 hours ago) and read 5526 times:

Rent away from the airports, or you will be paying something like 60 or even more $ extra for the premium location. Shop around, and book in advance.

You should get a good deal considering there's still some time.

Also, if all you care about is to have something to drive, check rentawreck.com, they keep their cars for longer, but they're cheaper also and you can still get a new car if you're lucky.


User currently offlineUPS707 From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 360 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (8 years 1 week 9 hours ago) and read 5520 times:

Quoting AsstChiefMark (Reply 8):
Most of the time, Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity, Orbitz, and Hotwire don't offer anything cheaper than the rental car company websites. Sometimes they're more expensive due to commission and service charges.

It's all in the luck of the draw. I agree with you on Expedia & Orbitz since I have typically done better with the company sites or using my Entertainment card, but I did manage to get a killer deal for IAD last year. I had a Full-Size booked through the company sites (forget from who) and decided to do some trying through Priceline and see what I could do out there. Ended up with an SUV through National for $27/day. This was in March, so we were happy to have the Trailblazer vs whatever the full-size would have been. The topper on that trip was that when we got in the car, I looked down at the odometer and saw that it had 2 miles on it! Priceline is worth a shot if you have time, but I always secure a normal reservation also just in case I don't get anything through Priceline. A good site for info on the best way to use Priceline is www.biddingfortravel.com


User currently offlineLTBEWR From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 13078 posts, RR: 12
Reply 11, posted (8 years 1 week 9 hours ago) and read 5512 times:

I would suggest that if you plan to be in NY City that you rent your car from a location in New Jersey across the river, like Jersey City, or near EWR, easily reachable by public transit. New Jersey may be significantly cheaper due to differences in insuance and liability law, which causes NY City prices to be very high, among the highest in the USA. Many in NYC do this to save money as well.
As to Enterprise, usually you cannot use the car more than 100-150 miles (160-240 kms) or so from where it is rented from. I would also suggest renting from a non-airport location to save money, as airport locations may charge stupidly high fees (like up to 10%). Also in NJ and other states, you may also have to pay extra taxes. In NJ, there is a 'security tax' put in after 9/11 to screw the visitors to pay for additional police and other costs.
Beware of insurance add-ons, check if the credit card you use or your employer (if on business) covers the loss damage waiver. Take a car with a full tank of gas and refill it before returning to save gas refill charges (at $5-7/gallon vs. >$3.00 street price per gallon.
Also don't go for the cheapest rate car (usually 'economy', go for the 'compact' or similar where get a Ford Focus or =. If you are lucky, you may get an upgrade to a larger car. I would note that you will get a car with automatic transmission, stick isn't available as so few people use it and for better resale values.


User currently offlineBigOrange From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 2364 posts, RR: 3
Reply 12, posted (8 years 1 week 8 hours ago) and read 5496 times:

Pre-pay the rental car in advance before you leave home and get a voucher to take with you. Make sure you get the gold or platinum package that includes all taxes and a full tank of fuel.

User currently offlineJasYHZ From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 175 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (8 years 1 week 5 hours ago) and read 5476 times:

Hi Everyone,

After being in this business for 8 years (I'm the Airport Operations Manager for National and Alamo in Halifax, Nova Scotia) I've picked up a few things. Some points to consider:

~ Rates are tiered, from the bottom up, in the order: rental companies own websites (alamo.com), travel websites (expedia.ca), 1-800 reservation center lines and then local numbers (right to the local offices). So hertz.com or nationalcar.ca will usually be the cheapest place to start.
~ If you're a member of ANYTHING, mention it when making a reservation or inquiring about rates. Aeroplan and other frequent flyer discounts can take 10 or 15% off local rates, a Costco membership with Alamo can waive an additional driver fee, and you'd be surprised who has a corporate account signed up (I only found out a few weeks ago that The Playboy Corp. has an account with National! If only they'd sign up Chippendales.....)
~ Most car rental companies don't have a lot of economy cars in their fleet - so if you do book one, you most likely will get bumped into a LEAST a compact.
~ Lots of people book the smallest, cheapest thing available - but take a look at what you really NEED. If there are four people travelling and luggage, you'd better at least be looking at an intermediate or fullsize. No matter how much you think you saved, being cramped and uncomfortable isn't worth it.
~ Most rates differ between regular car classes by only .50 cents/day to $2/day. Over a week jumping two classes from a compact car to a fullsize, that's only a difference of $24 for the week. I'd rather be comfortable in an Impala or Five Hundred rather than a Cobalt or Focus. Factor in how far you'll be driving, how many people will be with you etc.
~ UPGRADING at the time of rental. Don't expect a good cheap deal on a convertible in July or a 4x4 in February. But at times of excess capacity, you may get that premium car for only $9/day extra or a minivan for $12/day extra.
~ As said before, prepaying with a tour company is great, especially coming from Europe. Alamo and National do a HUGE amount of tour business and most customer have told me that prepaying did save them LOTS of cash. Plus when you arrive you're not having to worry about paying a large bill when you return as it's been paid before you leave. And go for the best package; with Alamo it's usually called Alamo Gold and National's are usually Fully Inclusive, Enhanced Fully Inclusive or Super Inclusive.
~ Remember, you can only reserve a car class, not a specific make and model. My reservation centers are famous for informing customers that they are guaranteed a red Sebring with aluminum wheels and a black cloth interior. When they arrive and I have a green G6 with a beige interior that FREAK OUT. So if you book a full size, there are 6 or 7 models that you MAY get. Best thing to do is after you make your reservation, ask for the local number of the office where you'll be picking the car up, call them and inquire about the vehicles in their fleet.
~ Asking for an upgrade at a car rental agencies is the same as asking for one on your flight. Is usually doesn't work. We've heard all the excuses before. If you and your family of four have arrived in February with ski gear and you're booked for a full size and you whine for a sport utility - you'll get one - but only after paying a HUGE upgrade rate.
~ just walking up to the counter and asking for a rate sometimes works - I set my walkup rates each day depending on the number of cars on ground, utilization, daily transactions etc. So I've actually set my premium cars lower than my economy cars just to get them on the road. Just don't arrive without ANY reservation at all. Inquire at the desk and if you have a reservation with them, inform them that you do have a reservation but their walkup rate is better and could you please process them as a walkup. 99.9% of agents will.
~ The WORST things you can EVER say to a car rental agent:
"You're the only one who has cars left". Yes, and now you're going to pay dearly.
"Do you have any (insert specific make and model here"). If we do, you're also going to pay dearly.
"I think I'm going to need a bigger car". Saying this means you'll pay for more. Wait until the agent asks you and then you can sometimes negotiate on price for an upgrade.

It's not rocket science to anyone but car rental agents get paid commission on any optional items sold at the time of rental. Just make sure you have all your bases covered and you KNOW your stuff.

Hope I've given you some good tips. If you have any other questions IM me.

JasYHZ



"That's it! You just made the list!"
User currently offlineMdsh00 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 4124 posts, RR: 8
Reply 14, posted (8 years 1 week 3 hours ago) and read 5462 times:

Quoting LTBEWR (Reply 11):
I would suggest that if you plan to be in NY City that you rent your car from a location in New Jersey across the river, like Jersey City, or near EWR, easily reachable by public transit. New Jersey may be significantly cheaper due to differences in insuance and liability law, which causes NY City prices to be very high, among the highest in the USA. Many in NYC do this to save money as well.

I've heard about this too from my friends in NY. Also make sure that you return the car within the day. Even an hour late, you will be charged a whole day's worth. There are also weekly deals if you are looking into that.



"Look Lois, the two symbols of the Republican Party: an elephant, and a big fat white guy who is threatened by change."
User currently offlineNkops From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 2662 posts, RR: 6
Reply 15, posted (8 years 1 week 2 hours ago) and read 5455 times:

you can also try breezenet (bnm.com) will compare all the companies so you can pick the cheapest.


I have no association with Spirit Airlines
User currently offlineJJJ From Spain, joined May 2006, 1817 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (8 years 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 5438 times:

Quoting Mdsh00 (Reply 14):
Even an hour late, you will be charged a whole day's worth. There are also weekly deals if you are looking into that

I've always been told by Hertz and Europcar that they have a grace period of two hours.

Don't know about the rest of the companies.


User currently offlineL410Turbolet From Czech Republic, joined May 2004, 5694 posts, RR: 18
Reply 17, posted (8 years 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 5434 times:

Thanks for your valuable input. Renting the car accross the river in NJ in an non-airport branch office seems to save a lot of money.
BTW, can anyone with more insight into the rental car business explain me this:

Rental comany: AVIS
Car group: B (eg. Chevy Cobalt)
From: Sept. 12, 11:00
Until: Sept. 19, 11:00
Pick-up/drop-off location: Jersey City, NJ 455 Washington Blvd

here comes the funny part...

rates (all-inclusive) if booked via:

avis.DE: 204 EUR (200 EUR non-ref prepaid)
avis.CO.UK: 246 EUR (224 EUR non-ref prepaid)
avis.CZ: 282 EUR
avis.COM: 445 EUR (includes only LDW and LIS)


User currently offlineUsnseallt82 From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 4891 posts, RR: 52
Reply 18, posted (8 years 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 5418 times:

Quoting L410Turbolet (Thread starter):
Rent A Car In The US - How To Get The Best Deal?

Shop around. Most online venues will give you the best price.

I take quick trips frequently around the D.C. area and the best deal I've found for rental cars is from http://www.hotwire.com . They seem to put out the best prices.



Crye me a river
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