Rental cars are in high demand and scarcity nowadays. Most major car rental companies have sold much of their fleets to stay afloat during COVID-19 shutdowns, and a shortage of chips and semiconductors has slowed down the auto production industry. With more people vaccinated and more trips, businesses have struggled to meet consumer demand.
This shortage means prices are skyrocketing and in some destinations the number of cars available for rental is limited. In a climate like this, how do you snag a decently priced rental car for your next trip? BBB offers the following suggestions.
How to get a rental car at a reasonable price
• Book early. It is the number one way to score a rental car at a good price, even when there is a shortage. Instead of waiting a few weeks to arrive at your destination, book your car rental at the same time you book your flight, or as soon as you have a rough idea of your travel plans. Unlike flights, there are usually no penalties if you need to change or cancel your reservation, so take advantage and book your car as early as possible.
• Be flexible with your dates. Much like airline flights, providing flexible rental dates can help you get a better price on a rental car. If your travel dates are already set but your rental car is straining your budget, take a look at your itinerary and see if you really need a rental car every day of your trip. You might be able to stay at an airport hotel the first or last night to save a day or two over the length of your rental.
• Take advantage of discounts and loyalty programs. Car rental companies partner with airlines, hotels, AAAs, credit card issuers and other companies to provide benefits to their loyalty program members. Ask who a rental company partners with to see if you might be eligible for discounts or bonuses.
• Check the price drops. Take advantage of specialized apps or price drop alerts from third-party websites to find out if your price is still the best deal. Since car rental companies do not penalize you for canceling a reservation if you receive a price drop alert, you can cancel your reservation and rebook at the lower rate. Of course, always make sure the deal is legitimate before you cancel your reservation.