How To Save On A Car Rental

This How To Save On A Car Rental post is sponsored by Groupon.

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We rent cars quite a bit. For a while, every time we drove to New York or Florida, we would rent a car. It made more sense to put miles onto a car that wasn’t ours. Plus, it was actually really cheap for us to rent a car too. You can definitely save on a car rental if you know what you’re doing. So, of course,  this post is here to help.

How To Save On A Car Rental

Get Unlimited Miles.
If you’re renting a car, it’s probably because you’re driving somewhere far and you’d rather put the miles on someone else’s car. Be careful you’re not putting the miles on your wallet. Some car rentals will only include a daily allotment of miles and if you exceed them, you have to pay per mile. That can really add up. If you’re renting this for vacation, you don’t want to have to worry about choosing activities based on how many miles you have left for the day.

Watch Out For Hidden Fees Based On Your Travel.
I went to pick up a car once at a company we used often. They asked, as they always do,  where I was going. “To New York for myto husband’s grandma’s 100th birthday party,” I said. “Oh, New York. That’s an extra $50 a day.” Shock was my initial reaction. I couldn’t believe it. I had said we had rented from there countless times and never had an additional fee … and was told we must have gotten lucky. Lucky was that I was at the airport with other companies as options. I found another company, one that didn’t require me to pay a daily fee to travel to New York, and rented from there instead.

Take Your Chances.
There’s one car rental company that offers you a discount if you choose a “wild card” rental. Basically, you will end up with any car they have available. So, you can end up with an  SUV for the price of a compact car, saving you a ton of money on your rental.

Don’t Pre-Pay For The Gas.
Car rental companies will expect you to return the car with a full tank of gas. You can do this yourself before you return it, or you can pay a relatively cheap per gallon rate when you return it and the car company will fill it for you. Here’s the catch, though. You are paying for an entire tank of gas at that rate, regardless of how much gas you actually have when you return it. So you could return it half full, but still pay for a full tank of gas. Not worth it. If you don’t return it full, they’ll charge you another rate to fill it up, and that rate is usually so much more than the actual cost of gas. 

Skip The Insurance. Maybe.
Before you rent a car, call your insurance company and see if your insurance covers any damages to a rental. Some do, some don’t. Our current insurance does, so we are able to skip the extra fee of added insurance when we’re renting a car. Before you skip it, though, please call your insurance to make sure.

Also, as Stephanie pointed out on our Facebook page, your credit card may offer free car rental insurance if you use that credit card to book. She also suggests checking the rewards with your credit card. You may be able to get a percentage off or an upgrade.

Avoid The Extras.
You can add a GPS to your rental or you can be like us and just take the GPS out of your car and bring it with you when you rent a car. Same with something like E-ZPass. Some rental companies will allow you to avoid long toll lines by using their E-ZPass (or similar system, depending on where you are). You’ll pay per day for the use of it, plus the cost of tolls. Instead, deny theirs and use your own or just pay tolls with cash.

Check Discount Sites.
Before you book your rental car, be sure to check out discount sites like Groupon. You can look up car rental companies by name (i.e., Hertz). You can find any active discount codes for that company, then follow a link to the car rental company’s page. Even better, when you click through, the discount code may be populated for you already so you don’t even have to remember to enter it at checkout.

Group Your Rental.
If you’re traveling out of town and need a hotel too, you might be able to find a better rate if you book a car and hotel bundle at the same time. A site like Expedia will give you that option. You can also add a flight to your bundle, in case you’re in need of that. Booking as a package can definitely give you big savings.

Head Out Of Town.
Your cheapest rental location may be in a different town. Our airport location is always a better price than our local free standing locations, but Stephanie mentioned on our Facebook page that she has found that a second location a few towns away from her offered a better price than the same company with a location in her town. So definitely call around if you’re able to, just to compare.

What other methods do you use to save on a car rental?