A car rental can be a fun way to discover a new city on your own when you’re traveling; it’s also easier for some people when they are just looking for a simple way to get around, whether they’re traveling for pleasure or business. The expense of a car rental is usually less than organized tours or taxis, but the expense in general can still be a costly one, particularly for longer vacations and trips. The following tips, however, can help you save money the next time you rent a car:
Pay in advance
If you’re confident your travel plans won’t change, ask if it’s possible to receive a discounted rate if you pay in advance. Many car rental companies will provide better prices to customers who prepay for the vehicle at the same that they reserve it.
Search for coupon codes
If you reserve your car online, search for coupon codes that can help to lower your total reservation cost. If the booking page gives you the option to enter a coupon code before finalizing your reservation, go to websites like RetailMeNot.com to see if there are any current codes that can be used to lower your rate.
Reserve the car in advance
Renting a car will normally cost more money if you wait until the last minute to make your reservation. To take advantage of their best rates, try to make your booking as far in advance as you can.
Watch out for hidden costs
A car rental may be offered at a specific daily rate, but you’ll also want to look for any hidden costs that you may only find by reading the fine print. This can include things like vehicle license fees, sales tax, and arena fees, so be sure to take these extra costs into consideration when comparing rates from various rental companies to confirm you’re definitely getting the best deal possible.
Reserve a small vehicle
Unless you’re traveling with a lot of people or you need a lot of space, reserve a smaller car. Compact cars are usually the least expensive option, so if it makes no difference to you, reserve one of those and save money. You may even be upgraded to a larger vehicle at no extra cost to you, especially if the car rental place ends up overbooking their compact cars and they’re all out when you arrive.
Fill up the gas tank
It will differ by rental car company, but it will usually cost you more money if you come back with your rental and it doesn’t have a full tank of gas. Instead of just paying for the expense for the actual gas itself, you’ll also be charged an extra service charge fee. Lower your car rental expenses by giving yourself enough time to fill up the gas tank before returning the car.
Avoid the airport
Car rentals at the airport are usually the most convenient option, but it’s often the costliest, too. Depending on where you’re going, it could be more cost-effective to just use public transportation to travel to the city center first, and then rent your vehicle there. Many hotels also provide complimentary (or cheap) shuttle service for their guests to and from the airport. Once you’re at your hotel, you may be able to find a nearby car rental place; some hotels even have onsite car rentals.
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Nothing above is meant to provide financial, legal, or tax advice. You should meet with appropriate professionals for such services.