Whether you are going on a vacation or a business trip, when you find yourself renting a car, there are some quick and easy ways to save money.
A rental car can be one of the biggest expenses for any trip (often third after airfare and hotel stays). But you don’t have to break the bank just to have a set of wheels.
1. Perfect Your Rental Car Search
OK, you don’t want to waste hours just to save a few bucks. I get it. But a little time can equal big savings if you are smart about it. First, book the rental car as soon as you know you will need it. Book early to get the best rates. Then periodically check to see if the rates have gotten any better or if there are any new discounts available.
Don’t obsess, but set aside a few minutes once a week to look. If you find a better rate, cancel the original reservation or negotiate to have the company match a competitor. Or as a last-ditch effort, get an upgrade for free to make up the difference.
2. Avoid the Extras
Even though rental car companies may encourage you to add on a rental car insurance policy, you don’t always need to do that. Often your own car insurance will cover you or if you pay for the rental car with a credit card, the card will offer protection automatically.
Choose a rental car location that is outside of the airport. Many companies will offer a shuttle to get you there and the extra few minutes can save you big. Airport rental car locations often charge extra for convenience.
Bring your GPS with you. For many of us, that’s simply our smartphone. But some rental car companies will charge extra to provide you with GPS. Don’t fall into the trap.
3. Make Money
In fact, you can actually make money while you rent a car. Sound impossible? If you have a car at home, instead of letting it sit idle, you can rent it out. This can offset the cost of the rental car you need wherever you have gone. I’m rooting for Hawaii on vacation instead of somewhere cold on business. But no matter your destination, don’t let your car go wasted when it could bring in some cash.
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