Cheap Rental Car ~ How to Save Money on Rental Cars

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The very best travel coupons that you’ll find on the internet are car rental coupon codes. I have been able to use some sort of car rental coupon every single time I’ve had to rent a car. However, it’s a rarer occasion when I’ve used a coupon for airfare or hotel. Here’s how to find a cheap rental car.

It’s overwhelming to start planning a trip. Not only do you have to work within your budget but it’s stressful trying to find the best deal. You want to know you got the best price possible.

Ways to find cheap rental car

Use a travel search engine (aggregator) for an initial search

One of the best ways to get a cheap car rental is to get a sense of the baseline price. As soon as you decide on a trip, search for a rental car in the area you plan to visit. Looking this up in advance will give you an idea of a baseline price well before you need to book. 

This way, when you see the price has lowered, you can reserve the rental car feeling good about the price.

Like with airlines – which may have hubs in some places and thus be cheaper – car rental companies may have “hubs” in certain cities. Because of this, there is no reason to have any loyalty to a particular car rental company based on price.

You may be loyal to one company based on customer service or something else, but you shouldn’t think that one company always has the best price.

I like to start with a search on a travel search aggregate like Kayak and see what companies are coming up with the best price in the area I’m visiting.

Sign up for preferred car rental clubs (if they’re free)

Avis Preferred Service is completely free to sign up for (and well worth it because you don’t have to wait in line) Hertz also has a #1 Gold program that offers similar benefits.

I was able to get into the Hertz program for free with my Amex card. Being loyal to one vender will enable you to accrue points or get discounts every time you travel.

Unless you’re an extremely frequent car rental customer (consider other greener forms of transportation when possible) it’s probably only worth it to sign up for these preferred car rental clubs if it’s free to sign up.

Be sure to check out our other travel tips, including ways to find cheap airline tickets for more ideas and great coupon codes. Save on car rentals every time you travel.

Be flexible

When you are as flexible as possible, this opens you up to money-saving opportunities. Overall, flexibility is how to get a cheap car rental. This includes what days of the week you will want the car and the time of year. Holidays and summer travel will be more expensive than other times of the year. Picking up a rental car on a Friday night can cost more than on Saturday morning. 

In addition, if you choose a budget, compact car over a larger model, you will save money. 

Use a cashback site

Book a car rental through a cashback site to earn money back on your purchase. Some of these cashback sites pay quarterly. Others pay monthly or when customers meet a certain threshold. There are some programs in which you earn rewards points to spend on certain items instead of cash.

The way it works is you sign up at a cashback site. When you are in that site, you access the car rental site. When you purchase from the car rental site, you earn a rebate or cash through the site.

Consider fuel efficiency

Another way to save money on your car rental is to consider the gas mileage. Choosing a fuel efficient car means you will average more miles per gallon. According to the EPA, new cars that are sold in the United States now average 24.9 miles per gallon. 

Basically, the smaller the vehicle, the better the gas mileage. Consider hybrid cars and smaller cars instead of SUVs. They also have the advantage of being a greener way to travel.

10 Tips for Using Priceline for Car Rentals

Use corporate codes

Where do you work? Do you go to a college or university? Do you belong to any organizations? Many of these will offer discount codes as a perk. This will be a way to get a cheap rental car. They will ask for verification and ID at the counter, so be sure you are the one who qualifies for the offer.

Also check if your credit cards offer discounts or deals if you book the car rental and use the credit card to pay. In addition, just like they do with hotels, AAA has a partnership with a car rental Hertz. You can qualify for a discount.

Be sure before using any code that you also check prices without the codes. Sometimes these codes only work with the regular, full price rate. There may be specials which are a better value. (We’ve found this sometimes with AAA when booking hotels.)

Unlimited mileage

When you rent a car, you will have the option sometimes to pay per mile or have unlimited mileage. Consider your trip and what you plan to do with the rental car. Are you going to be driving long distances or using it to get from the hotel to a meeting and back to the airport?

If you are driving across the country or within a state, you will be better off with unlimited mileage.

Use rental car discount codes and coupons directly on the company’s website

Once you’ve determined which car rental company or companies are offering the best prices for your location or dates, look for coupons for those particular companies.

While it’s true Priceline car discount codes aren’t always available, sometimes the coupons are listed directly on the company’s site. You can also Google “(name of company) car rental coupon code” to see what turns up.

Finally, some auto service clubs, insurance agencies, schools, and other affiliation groups or clubs may offer discounts.

Watch for any offers through promotions you get from those clubs and companies. For instance, I get discounts through USAA, my insurance company, as well as my Amex card, and an alumni association I’m a part of.

Cheap rental car

Check a few months in advance of your trip for car rental coupon codes. This will help ensure you are getting a good deal on a rental car. If you are going to be traveling and wanting a cheap car rental frequently, it’s best to patronize the same rental car company. You can accrue points and get special offers and upgrades.

Being flexible is best when you are trying to secure the best possible price for a cheap car rental.