The road trip is a great American pastime for a reason—there’s nothing like rolling down the windows, blasting music and hitting the highway. But if shelling out hundreds of dollars sounds less than ideal, not to worry. There are plenty of options for renting a car on the cheap, whether you go with a traditional car rental company or branch out to one of the newer alternatives. Here, three tactics to think about before filling up the tank and throwing your bags in the trunk.
1. Try A Car-Sharing Club
Instead of heading straight to the nearest car rental agency, consider a car-on-demand club, where you pay a monthly membership (as low as $7 a month) to drive cars either by the hour or day for less than traditional car rental company rates. Gas is included, which could save you hundreds of dollars on a longer trip. According to Jeanette Pavini, spokesperson for Coupons.com, the potential savings boils down to how often and where you rent. “If you rent a car often, it may be worth it,” says Pavini. “Before signing up, get a rate quote for the cities you will be driving in the most and compare with a traditional car rental agency.”
2. Use An Online Marketplace
Familiar with the Airbnb model of vacationing? Turns out there are similar services available for renting cars. One such company, Turo, allows you to search for vehicles by day rate, which can amount to savings of as much as 30 percent off traditional rental costs.
3. Shop Around
Before you book a car, search for an online coupon code. “They are among some of the most popular codes for travel savings,” says Pavini. “Many of these are posted online, but if you rent often and are a part of a company’s loyalty program, booking directly may be a better deal.”
Pavini also suggests finding out whether your company has a corporate rate, or you can try using warehouse club or other membership discounts.
It’s also worth comparing the cost of bundling car, hotel and airfare with renting a car separately. When you are looking at prices, be sure to compare the final costs, including all of the associated fees and taxes. Before booking, always run the numbers to see if the weekly rate is cheaper than the daily one. “If the weekly is cheaper, check to make sure there aren’t any penalties for returning the car early,” adds Pavini.
By Danielle Blundell