Tips for Saving Money When Renting a Car

in Travel Deals, Trip Planning

Renting a car is a great transportation option while traveling. It allows you the flexibility to discover your destination at your own pace. For some locations, renting a car is the only way to see everything you want to see during your stay. Granted, renting a car for your entire trip can become rather expensive. Here are some tips for cutting car rental costs while still making sure that all of your transportation needs are covered.

  1. Shop around and compare pricing structures. There are plenty of sites out there like, or that offer flight, hotel and car rental deals. Often, you’ll be able to save hundreds of dollars by purchasing one of these packages. The downside is often restricted travel dates. Check out the sites for major rental companies like Hertz or Rent-a-Car and compare their prices with smaller, local companies. Start researching early and keep an information chart to help you organize your information. All of this research will pay off when you book the cheapest possible car.
  2. Size matters. Keep in mind that while renting the smallest car will most likely give you the best gas mileage, it isn’t always the all-around cheapest choice. Many car rental companies offer deals on larger vehicles (especially if they aren’t successfully renting them). However, sometimes renting the smallest car on the lot really is the cheapest choice. It all comes down to seeking out deals and doing your research.
  3. Be specific about costs and document everything. It is important to research all of the costs associated with the car rental (insurance, gas, extra driver fees, etc.). When you reserve your car, make sure you get confirmation on paper (or via email) on what all of the final costs will be. This way if the rental company tries to sneak in extra costs at the counter, you’ll be able to spot them right away.

    Renting a car allows you to explore without restriction. Here are some tips for frugal renters.

  4. Organize your trip with your transportation needs in mind. Depending on how you organize your trip, you may be able to survive without a rental car for one or more days of your stay. Plan out your itinerary with your car rental in mind. Renting a car for half of your stay and relying on public transportation for the rest of the trip will cut your rental costs considerably and allow you to really use your time wisely.
  5. “Just say no” to the upgrades and extras. Car rental companies will inevitably try to convince you to upgrade your small two-door to a luxury sedan or SUV with all the bells and whistles. While the thought of rolling in a red convertible may seem tempting when you’re standing at the rental counter, you won’t be as pleased when you see your credit card statement after you get back from your trip. Likewise, instead of renting a GPS system, do you research ahead of time and bring maps. If you can get away with having one driver, this will also reduce extra driver fees. Many car rental companies are now offering the option to pay for a full tank of gas at the outset so that you don’t have to worry about filling up your tank before you drop off the car. Don’t do it. This will inevitably be more expensive than simply topping off your tank before you return your rental.
  6. Know your insurance plan and use your own insurance while traveling. Most car rental companies require you to use their insurance for the actual vehicle. However, if you already carry full liability insurance through your normal car insurance, you can typically use this instead of forking over another $15-$30 per day for liability insurance on your rental. Make sure you do your research beforehand and know exactly what your regular insurance plan covers before you rent a car.

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