When you need to rent a car, you would like to get the best value for money. The least expensive car on the car rental agency’s lot usually has the fewest features and may not be the most comfortable car for you. Though it often seems impossible, you may want to drive a nice car without paying a high price for it.
When you rent a car, the price is usually higher for more expensive and desirable rental vehicles having many features. The most expensive rentals are:
- Luxury cars
- Sports cars
- SUVs and trucks
Here are some ways to get the best rental car for the least money.
Method 1 of 3: Contact a car rental company directly
Car rental companies are often rated and receive bonuses based on the number of vehicles they rent out every month. Since the bonuses are reduced if they have vehicles that are not rented, it is a rental company’s best interest to rent out a vehicle by negotiating better rental rates for it.
Step 1: Contact a rental company. Call a rental company to inquire about rentals available. Try to talk to someone in the branch personally, either a phone conversation or an in-person visit are best.
- Tip: If you have an established relationship with a particular rental company, go through them so they can see you are a loyal customer.
Step 2: Ask for a good deal. Be clear about your intentions about renting the best car possible for the least money. Be pleasant and friendly. If you are abrasive or rude, there is less chance they will help you get a lower rate.
Step 3: Provide all relevant information. Give as much information as possible so that you get a better rate.
If you are a senior, tell the rental agent and ask for a senior’s discount. Many places offer a military discount, so let the agent know if you are current military staff or a veteran. If your employer uses the rental company on a regular basis, ask for a company discount.
Step 4: Check if you can get other discounts. You may get a class upgrade for free, a discount based on percentage, or you may get other perks like unlimited mileage for free or a discounted rate.
If you don’t have any other of the above reasons to request a discount, simply ask if the rental company can do better on their price.
Step 5: Check other rental companies. If the rental company is unable to offer you a reduced rate or a rental class upgrade, try another location or rental company with the same methods.
Method 2 of 3: Get a rental car with a rewards program
You may be able to rent a great car for very little money if you subscribe to a rewards program. With many rewards programs such as American Express Membership Rewards, you can get reward certificates worth money towards rentals at partners such as Hertz, Avis, or Enterprise Rent A Car.
Step 1: Contact your credit card company. Contact your credit card company to determine if they have a rewards program including car rentals.
If they have a rewards program, your points or value balance will be displayed on your credit card statement.
Step 2: Check if you are eligible for any rewards. Check your credit card provider’s website to locate rewards for which you are eligible. Locate the travel and car rental rewards categories.
Step 3: Check if you can redeem any certificates. Determine if you need to redeem the rewards using a certificate that is mailed to you or if you can book a rental online and use reward points directly.
- Tip: If you need to redeem points using a certificate, do so well in advance as it can take three to eight weeks to receive your certificate in the mail.
Step 4: Book your rental car. Follow the instructions on your certificate to book a car rental.
You may have to call a company branch to book your car rental or book it online and bring your certificate in at your booking time to redeem the credit card rewards.
Method 3 of 3: Check for online deals
Major rental companies operate websites where rental deals are advertised. Check all major car rental agency websites and local rental agency websites to determine who has the better deal for a rental.
Step 1: Consider local car rental agencies. Check all rental agencies in the location where you want to rent a car.
Major rental companies include:
- Alamo Car Rental
- Avis Car Rental
- Budget Car Rental
- Dollar Car Rental
- Enterprise Rent A Car
- Hertz Car Rental
- National Car Rental
Step 2: Look for online deals. Look online for vehicles listed under a “Deals” category or for specials being offered by the rental agencies. There may be several offers listed, but often you can only use one offer at a time.
Step 3: Compare different offers. Compare offers from several car rental companies to determine the best deal for you.
- Tip: Use sites such as Pricelineto perform price comparisons for you. Enter the name of the city you will be renting the car in and the site will populate a comparison chart of vehicle classes and the prices offered by several rental agencies.
Step 4: Book the car. Book a rental with the company that offers the best car for the lowest price.
No matter which method you use to get the best rental car for the least money, drive the rental car responsibly and return it in the same condition you rented it in. This establishes a good rapport with the rental company and you’ll be more likely to get a better deal the next time you rent a car with them.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Get the Best Rental Car for the Lowest Price and was authored by Jason Unrau.