6 Strategies to Save on Car Rental from Your Favorite Company
The strategies and tips in this article are intended to help you get the very best rate on rental cars when you want to rent from a specific rental agency. If you just want the best car rental rate and don’t car which company it’s from, see this article on getting the cheapest overall car rental rate instead.
1. Take advantage of available coupons and promotional offers
Information from retail coupon websites and deal forums is often hit and miss – there are good deals to be had on these sites, but many times the codes and strategies provided are outdated or no longer work. If you prefer to rent from a particular car rental company, always start with the current deals on the rental company’s website. With a minimal investment of time, you’ll have a good idea of the current promotional offers currently available.
Major car rental company current deals / special offers:
- Silvercar – use promo code AFF-FTD for $50 off 2-day rental
Then, if you want to spend more time looking for better deals than those available straight from the company, you can easily find retail coupon websites with a simple web search (e.g., ” Enterprise coupons”, “Avis weekend rental coupons”, etc.). Most have some sort of voting system that gives you some idea of how well each code or coupon works. Examples of these sites include RetailMeNot, Coupons.com, etc.
There are also deal threads for various car rental companies on sites like Flyertalk, FatWallet, and SlickDeals. These forums can yield some amazing deals, but care must be taken because some of the strategies provided violate rental terms or policies. A prime example is using a corporate code from a company you don’t work for.
You can also search online travel agencies and car rental aggregator sites like Orbitz and CarRentals.com, but if you prefer a specific car rental company, these sites yield a lower rate than renting direct from the company so rarely that it’s not usually worth the time spent searching.
2. Take advantage of employment discounts
The biggest rate cuts offered by car rental companies are often corporate, small business, and non-profit discounts. These discounts are usually available to all employees on official company business, and sometimes to employees traveling for personal or leisure purposes as well. Check with your employer to see if there is an active account with your preferred rental company and to obtain the required discount codes. For large employers, the benefits department will most likely have this information.
Business, corporate, and non-profit account benefits vary by car rental agency and sometimes by rental volume, but often feature additional perks like free additional drivers, unlimited mileage, free underage drivers, free rental days, and more.
If your employer doesn’t have a business account with your preferred car rental company, signing up is free and takes just a few minutes for small businesses and non-profits with relatively uncomplicated rental needs. For help deciding on a car rental business program, this article describing and comparing the top 7 car rental business plans has more information on this topic.
For government rentals, see this article instead.
3. Take advantage of organizational discounts
Clubs and other organizations may offer car rental discounts, which can often be quite substantial.
Check with your organization’s website or membership department to see if there is an existing account with your favorite car rental company. Even small clubs and organizations are eligible for accounts with most rental companies, so if your organization (or even its individual members) rent cars fairly often, it’s worth it to recommend it to whoever makes such decisions. For more information, see this article about the top 7 car rental business/organization plans.
Below are a few examples of organizations that offer car rental discounts as a perk of membership, which should help to give you some idea of the different types of organizational discounts. There are lots more, so if you belong to any clubs, professional organizations, sports associations, etc., be sure to check out the car rental discounts that might be available to you. The fastest way to find out about car rental discounts is to visit the organization’s website.
- AAA – American Automobile Association
- AARP – American Association of Retired Persons
- Amateur Softball Association
- American Association for Justice
- Budget: use BCD number T505800
- USAA – United Services Automobile Association
4. Check and re-check the rate, re-book if necessary
Unlike typical airfare, car rental rates often go down after the reservation is made. Whenever possible, check the rates at least every 2 weeks if not more often and re-book your vehicle if the rate has gone down. You can often save a significant amount of money this way. Always check the rate the day before the rental is to start, as current rental vehicle inventory and distribution may favor a lower price on your reservation.
If you have an account with the car rental company’s website or loyalty program, don’t log in when searching for rates and making the new reservation. You may need to clear your browser’s cookies between consecutive searches. To avoid complications, don’t forget to cancel the previous reservation.
Be wary of prepaid rentals
Despite the apparent savings they offer, prepaid car rentals are not recommended for rentals that are more than a day or two away, because rental rates often go down between the time the reservation is made and the rental is to begin. Since prepaid rentals incur fees for cancellations, you won’t be able to take advantage if the rate on your current reservation decreases – or if you are, the savings won’t be as great.
5. Look for last minute deals
If you’re checking rates a day or two before your rental is to begin, or if you need a vehicle tomorrow or the next couple of days and haven’t yet made a reservation, last minute car rental deals can sometimes offer some real savings.
Not all rental companies offer last minute specials as such. Here are the companies that currently offer last minute deals:
- Fox – scroll down to “Hot Deals”, then click “View All”
- National – sign up for email specials to receive last minute deals
6. Join the rental company’s loyalty program
If you prefer a certain rental company, consider joining the company’s loyalty program. It’s free and shortens the rental process, since the company already has the required information like your name, address, driver’s license number, and so on. Most loyalty programs also let members skip lines during the car pick-up and/or return process and have additional perks like rental discounts, free rental days, and other member-only offers.
Car rental customer loyalty programs:
- Alamo Insiders Club
- Avis Preferred
- Budget Fastbreak
- Dollar Express
- Enterprise Plus
- Fox Rewards
- Hertz Gold Plus Rewards
- National Emerald Club
- Payless Perks Club
- Thrifty Blue Chip
Using these tips and strategies, you should be able to get a better deal on your next car rental. If you have any tips of your own to share or have any questions about the information in this article, we’d love to hear from you. If we publish your question or comment, please let us know if you’d like us to credit you publicly.