You are in the midst of making all the arrangements for your next great adventure and it’s time to finalize your transportation and arrange for a rental car. Although people have been using Priceline’s Name Your Own Price function for years to find great deals on flights, many of us don’t think to do the same for our car rental reservations or don’t feel confident that we can name our own price without missing something and ending up with a non-refundable reservation that isn’t what we needed.
Because the discounts Priceline offers through this program can result in a significant cost savings, it is an excellent way to get more for your travel budget. To help make sure you do, here are ten tips for using Priceline for car rentals.
Priceline for Car Rentals to Save Money on Priceline Car Rental
Priceline offers solid discounts
Part of their standard reservation process without the restrictions and limitations associated with naming your own price.
Start out by checking Priceline’s regular price and work out your optimal car rental scenario including what locations you are willing to accept for pick-up/drop-off, times, the number of days you need the car, and the type of car you want.
You might find a price that meets your budget without having to worry about restrictions.
Do your research on Priceline
Make sure you understand what the different categories of cars offer in terms of amenities and capacity, both for passengers and luggage.
Some brands “economy” category cars don’t have radios and the passenger seating availability in one company’s mid-size might be different than that of another company.
Check the prices
Check prices offered at the national brands websites and other consolidated travel websites like Travelocity. This will give you a good idea of the average price for the exact rental you need, ensure you are comparing apples to apples to apples, and help you pick the right bid amount when you are ready to bid.
Compare weekend vs weekday rates on Priceline
While researching standard pricing, make sure you are accounting for differences in weekend rates versus weekday rates versus full week rental rates. Picking the right rental period may result in additional cost savings and is a key piece of information you will need to name your own price.
If you are flying into a major airport, it may be worth it to check into the rates available if you pick-up and drop-off at a city location rather than the airport. Although you will have to arrange for transportation from the airport to the pickup location and it may not be as convenient, it might save you enough money to make the extra hassle and the cost of a cab more than worthwhile.
Priceline Bidding Hacks
As you get ready to make your bid, write out all the details of what you need to ensure you are getting the exact reservation your vacation plans require. Remember that Priceline’s name your own price program has severe restrictions around changes, cancellations, and refunds.
Taking a minute to plan out your bid before you commit to anything will help ensure you don’t inadvertently pick the wrong vehicle type or arrival date and end up paying more than you bargained for.
Set your initial bid for 20-30% lower than the best price you found during your standard rate research. You can also check on Priceline to see the most recent winning bids for reservations similar to the ones you are trying to make. Use this information to validate your bid price and adjust up or down if needed.
Priceline Taxes and fees
The cost of taxes and fees will be shown as part of your total bid before you finalize and lock yourself into purchasing. Make sure you review this confirmation carefully and understand the full cost you will incur if your bid is accepted.
Get most out of Priceline Discount
In order to get the most benefit out of the discounts Priceline can offer on car rentals while also averting any unintended costs or consequences, it is important to remember that the discounts are available because of the strict rules Priceline imposes on name your own price reservations.
According to Priceline policies, once the name your own price bid is accepted, you cannot change the reservation in any way, you cannot extend the reservation at the same discounted price, and you will not get any refund for cancellations or if you return the car early
Lastly, be sure to read Priceline’s policy on delayed/cancelled/rescheduled flights so you know what you need to do in the event you find yourself in one of these situations. If your flight is delayed or cancelled and then rescheduled, your reservations will be held for 24 hours and extended by one day.
If your flight is cancelled and you will not be taking a rescheduled flight, you will need to contact Priceline’s customer support team to determine what options you have based on your specific circumstances.
Priceline Car Rental
When it comes to car rentals, using Priceline to find the right reservation at the right price can save you a significant amount of money but you need to be prepared and informed in order to get the rental car you need at the best price available.
The extra time and effort you put in may help you save enough money to splurge on sampling the local cuisine or taking a once-in-a-lifetime adventure while you are away from home.
Another of our favorite posts is The Ultimate Guide to Priceline Bidding Tips
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Ways to find cheap rental cars
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; whereas it’s a rarer occasion when I’ve used a coupon for airfare or hotel.
This post first provides a list of car rental coupon codes and then goes through the best method for getting a good deal on a rental car.
Use a travel search engine (aggregator) for an initial search
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 aggregator like Kayak and see what companies are coming up with the best price in the area I’m visiting.
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.
We will regularly update this page (so bookmark it) with coupons we have available, but 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.)
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.
Unless you’re an extremely frequent car rental (which hopefully you’re not as it’s not the greenest of transportation options) it’s probably only worth it to sign up for these preferred car rental clubs if it’s free to sign up.
Use these tips for using Priceline for car rentals and save every time you travel. Be sure to check out our other travel coupons posts for more great coupon codes. Save on car rentals every time you travel.