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Hertz Fun Collection Chevrolet Corvette ZHZ - click above to enlarge

The economy is in one of the deepest recessions in decades, and one pleasant side-effect of fiscal woes is that many companies are offering huge discounts to get you off the consumer sidelines. One industry that hasn't gone that route so far is the rental car industry. Abrams Consulting Group tells The New York Times that the cost of a week-long rental went from $199 in May 2008 to $345 this year; a 73% increase. The news hasn't gotten much better for June, as the prices went up 65% from $210 to $347. If car rentals are down 15% on the year, why the increase?

The reason for the jump in prices is that there are fewer vehicles to rent, as companies like Hertz and Avis have cut back on the amount of vehicles that they're buying. They're also selling vehicles to used-car starved dealerships. The result of smaller fleets is customers paying more for the cars and trucks that are left. And since customers have become accustomed to getting their rentals at the last minute, some aren't getting a rental at all.

To beat the car rental blues, The New York Times suggests that you start your search earlier. Not getting a rental from companies at the airport is also a good idea, as off-airport companies don't have as much demand. Sites like Priceline and Expedia also generally offer discounts over retail.

[Source: New York Times]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      I have paid $10 a day for my last 2 rentals. A premium for 4 days in Vegas in Feb and midsize in Jersey for 4 days in June. Booked em on the Alamo site.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I found that using rent-a-wreck is pretty much the only way to go if it's convenient enough (generally is) and I'm paying out of my own pocket.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Be a loyal customer to a certain car rental & the rates are cheap. No problem here even if I rent one town & dropoff at another. Join their membership & be loyal it pays off folks.
      • 6 Years Ago
      We used hotwire 2 weeks ago and got a minivan from National for 193.00. It was a 2009 Toyota Sienna fully loaded and we had it 8 days/unlimited mileage. I found that if I watch the hotwire site for a few days you get a better deal than if you just purchase automatically the first time you look.
      • 6 Years Ago
      May 30 2009 - Atlanta airport - purchased on line rental Alamo - $13 a day + Total about $56 for 3 days. They are using the media to up their prices. Nice article tho. Been seeing how the airlines are hurting.. not enough passengers. But that same flight every seat was sale out.. and airports jammed! Tell me more media..

      • 6 Years Ago
      How is it that, in Canada, a month-long rental for a Honda Civic is 200$ (CAN) ?!?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Cause Canada is awesome :)
      • 6 Years Ago
      My daily commute takes me past auxiliary parking lots for Avis. These lots are is where they store cars not immediately needed for renting at the local airport office around the corner. It is normally full of cars, especially on weekends.

      Except, the aux lots are now sitting completely empty for weeks at a time. Last year, full to the brim on weekends and half empty during the week, and empty when major events were in town. There's nothing major going on now and the lots still sit empty on the weekends. The reason is, they no longer need the Aux space because they've gotten rid of so many other older cars either by outright sale or at auctions. All the cars they need to rent out now fit in their main airport lot.

      With fewer to rent, there's less need to offer bargains to keep the fleet rented. And prices go up. Not a shock to me.

      It also means they no longer need shuttle drivers to transport cars to and from these aux storage. Probably a dozen jobs axed right there.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I had to chime in here (first timer commenter, long time reader... and I rented a ZHZ identical to the one in this post several months ago! what a hoot). I'm renting a Volvo S80 (so I'm told- anyone remember the 'reservation' Seinfeld scene?) next week out of the airport in Seattle for five days and went straight through hertz.com. My tally? $537.96 while I'm comparing cars and rates. Well, ok... it is a 'Premium' car, and it's a special occassion for a week (conference/friend's wedding/'babymoon' last trip before our first born arrives in November). I'll take it.

      But folks, here's where it gets bad. Someone explain to me what justifies $201.46 in fees and taxes? You read that correctly. On top of the $537.96, for a grand total of $739.42. Mother of God. Taxes alone with no explanation are 115.89 (?!?!). The fees are as follows: Airport concession fee recovery, 60.29; Customer Facility Charge, 20.00; Vehicle Licensing Cost Recovery, 4.25; ENERGY SURCHARGE, 1.03. WTF? I will be questioning my helpful Hertz rep at the counter for good explanations before I sign anything. But more than likely, I'll be over a barrel, just like you next time. Rates are comparable across rental companies on travelocity.com. Be forewarned, and make sure you drive the snot out of it (not as in abuse, but get in some good drives to make it as worth your while as possible!). We're gonna take it to Canada for a nice drive through the mountains above Vancouver or something and then valet that thing at a nice restaurant afterwards. In the end, we'll be glad we didn't get the base V6 Charger.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I always feel bad for poor abused rental cars, but sometimes they deserve it like the naughty cars that they are.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The same reason there are 20% local taxes on hotel rooms; because they are largely paid by tourists who don't get a vote. Sending the bill to people who aren't your constituents is always the easiest solution politically - witness the Obama budget the next generation will pay for.
        • 6 Years Ago
        No clue on the energy surcharge -- but the other charges are as follows. The "concession recovery fee" reimburses the rental company for the money they pay to be located at the airport. The "facility charge" is generally a direct tax levied on airport car rentals. And the "licensing recovery" charge is to reimburse the rental car company for the cost of licensing the car (plates, municipal stickers, inspections, etc.).

        The facility charge is an actual tax, but the rest are kind of ridiculous. What other business charges you a fraction of his rent when he sells you something?
      Joe Torisi
      • 6 Years Ago
      Ask "Abraham's Consulting Group" how Epic Car Rental from NJ is doing?

      Rental rates must go up because interest and amortization cost are higher because of much lower residual values on the used cars the rental companies are getting when they sell their fleet...

      The Banks no longer have a totally secured debt and are commanding higher interest rates, and higher ammortization rates as well....

      The BS of Charging "Airport Concession fees" is just Hertz passing on their rent from the Airport..Why not dispute the credit card bill saying "I am not their partner...Why do I have to pay their rent?"...

      Sales tax is one thing, paying the airport rental fee (airports charge percentage of revenue) is totally wrong...As soon as one rental car company passes the fee off, all the rest follow..DISPUTE THE CHARGE
      • 6 Years Ago
      Worse, localities are raising the taxes on rentals. Expect to pay double-digit tax rates on your next rental.
        • 6 Years Ago
        But you can get an even better deal if you learn how to hotwire rentals.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I have always gotten good deals from Hotwire on rentals.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I used to travel quite a bit just a couplr of years ago. When you figure toyal price into it, the price of the rental, extra charges if you are late, fuel yo use & refill when brought back & the sneaky one INSURANCE. Some co's won't accept your coverage if you don't carry enough to cover a newer car or they won't cover you driving anything but what you have insured on paper. You can figure on average 175.00 per day & up, depending on how far out that you try to get one & where you get one. Shop around, there are some decent deals out there but it is expensive anymore.
      • 6 Years Ago
      That's it! Blame Obama for everything, don't let the fact that he's only been President less than 7 months total sway you in any way! Oh let's not forget to blame him for the economy as well, even though Bush ignored the economy, and hid the costs of the TWO (2) WARS! Oh! Let's be sure to blame him for spending way too much money and putting our children in debt, even though the only reason he's doing this is to try and recover the country from the Tailspin Bernake and BUSH left us in. This economy is in one of the deepest recessions in decades, and was just weeks away from economic depression! Most of us will still lose our homes and Jobs over what was done to us over the last 8 years! Best thing for you to do repub is SHUT UP! After all, during the last 8 years when this MESS was being made, I didn't hear one, NOT ONE, repub say Bush was spending too much! You were quite then. And during the last 8 years when this MESS was being made, I didn't hear one, no NOT ONE, repub say Bush and Chenie was cutting budgets for schools, states, and leaving people without police, fire, and basic city services! I didn't hear you then either, did I repub? So now, just keep quite, while we clean up the mess, you repubs caused! Just sit there and shut up! What ever happens to you, just be quite, and be glad that we still have a country after BUSH!
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