Three Tips to Save Money on a Rental Car

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When we travel, we usually rent a car.  This allows us to get outside the well-traveled spots and see more of the surrounding areas.  Having a car will also make it much easier to visit a particular restaurant or attraction, without wasting time waiting for public transportation or spending extra money on Uber/Taxi services.  Saving money on a rental car can be tricky, since the prices change day to day and location to location.  Points are generally not a great value for rental cars either, and insurance can sometimes cost more than the rental car itself!  With this in mind, check out these three ways to save some cash on your rental car.

Tip #1 – Add Extra Hours to the Rental

Disclaimer – This will not work every time, but it is worth a quick check.  Once you decide on the dates/times that you want to rent a car, perform a search on an aggregated search website like Priceline or Hotwire.  Note the price per day on this search.  For example, this is a search for a weekend rental in Arlington, VA from 4pm Friday – 4pm Sunday (48 hrs/2 days):CaptureOnce you know the daily rate ($79/day in this case), add a few hours to the end of the search.  This will effectively add another day, but you may be surprised to find a much lower rate!  This is a search for the same dates in Arlington, VA from 4pm Friday to 8pm Sunday (52 hours/3 days):Capture2In the first search, the daily cost was $79 for two days, which totals $176 after fees.  Adding four hours to the search resulted in a daily cost of only $39 for three days, which totals $132 after fees!  Not only does this save us $44, but we also don’t have to rush to return the car by 4pm on Sunday.

I’m not 100% sure why this happens, but I have a couple guesses.  The rental car company likely offers a lower price for “weekday rentals.”  Adding a few hours technically added a third day to the rental, which the computer likely sees as Monday.  Another possibility is that three-day rentals just get a better rate than two-day rentals.  Lesson here – it pays to check!

Tip #2 – Use AutoSlash

CapturedFrom the Autoslash.com “About Us” page:

AutoSlash is a website dedicated to saving people money on car rentals. We’re the only site on the Internet that applies the best coupons and discounts, tracks rental price changes right up until the pickup date, and re-books users into these savings automatically—ALL FOR FREE!

This website is great.  Either use them to book or enter the details from a rental booking, and they will continue to track it for price drops.  Simple to use, and real money saver!

Tip #3 – Cover Insurance with the Chase Sapphire Preferred

sapphire_preferred_cardRental car insurance is a constant frustration.  You need to be protected in the event of a wreck or other incident, but sometimes the daily insurance charge can exceed the price of the rental car!  Fortunately, you can avoid paying for this rental insurance all together and get Primary Rental Coverage if you pay for the car with your Chase Sapphire Preferred card.  This coverage is different from the Collision Damage Waiver offered by most cards.  This recently saved us $254 Euros on rental car insurance in Dublin, Ireland!

Conclusion

I hope these three simple tips help you save money on your next rental car!  Do you have any money saving tips to share?

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9 thoughts on “Three Tips to Save Money on a Rental Car

  1. Do you know if that same benefit applies to the Chase Ink Card as well? Or the Amex Platinum family?

    Also, I’ve noticed on rare occasions booking directly through the UR portal will actually be cheaper for some reason… maybe 30% of the time though, so its worth checking.

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    • I was actually thinking of adding the point about the UR portal or the Citi TY portal. We booked our rental car in Denver through one of the portals at a significant discount. I wasn’t sure if it was just an anomaly. Thanks for the extra datapoint. I’ll be adding it to the list soon!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Also, I don’t believe that the Ink+ offers the insurance benefit. I’m not quite sure about the Platinum. But I do know that the CSP has it, and it includes international coverage.

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  2. Interesting tips here, especially #1. I remember doing this a while back and it worked for me on a couple of neighborhood rentals, but never for my airport rentals. I would typically move the pickup and dropoff time by 30 mins or 60 mins, but I’m gonna try moving it around by a few hours like you did.

    I don’t have the Chase Sapphire Card, but I use the Premium Car Rental protection on my Amex cards. You basically pay a flat $20 charge per rental (not per day) and it provides Primary coverage for my rental. One notable difference is that it doesn’t cover rentals in Ireland and a few other places. I’m not sure why that’s the case..

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    • Moving the time by one hit actually dropped the daily rate to $62/day on this one.

      The CSP recently added Northern Ireland and Israel as covered placed to make the widest coverage network.

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      • Good to know. I might be headed to Ireland later this year, so its probably a good idea to upgrade my card.

        I’m curious if you were charged an extra day when you returned the vehicle? A while back, I rented a car from Enterprise (pickup on Friday, return on Sunday). When I went to return the vehicle, the location was closed. I left the keys in the drop box and found out later that I was billed for an extra day. I called them up and they said that the rental car isn’t considered “returned” until the rental office opens, which was Monday morning. So, I was ended up paying for 3 days instead of two.

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      • In this case, we are planning to “pay for the extra day.” Two days at $79 vs three days at $39… We still come out ahead.

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  3. United and Ritz Carlton also have Primary Car insurance on their credit cards. AMEX also has an option of adding primary car insurance to any of their cards for a flat rate fee per use, and its free to enroll. its called Premium Car Rental Protection.

    Lastly, primary car insurance doesn’t cover road hazard stuff like shredded tires. Some car rental companies (sixt specifically) will charge you for a brand new tire if the tire is damaged, and primary car rental insurance won’t cover this. Some other car rental companies will eat the cost of the tire, so avoid Sixt if you’re not purchasing road hazard insurance.

    Some credit cards will offer free roadside assistance to help too (4x per year with Ritz Carlton CC, etc.)

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