Car rental prices are going up. Even in this economy, the car rental companies learned from big oil and have managed to create a shortage of cars and thus drive up the prices. The reasons actually do make sense but have the same result. Resales on the cars are down and fewer people are flying. The rental companies then reduce the number of cars they have on hand creating demand instead of having too many on the lot.
Say no to extras
All of the waivers, insurance, extra options and special flower print paint job can add $30 a day to a rental. Some times these fees come close to the listed price of the rental itself. If you have your own auto insurance, you shouldn't need any of these profit margin balloon items. Your credit card may also offer special coverage on auto rentals. Just make sure of what you have ahead of time. If you don't have any of your own coverage, you may want to pay the ridiculous prices for these items.
Shop a few companies
You can divide prices into two categories. Those at the airport or the terminal and those that are away from the airport. You'll save substantial money by leaving the airport. Just make sure to weigh in the factor of time and transportation to the rental place for your decision. Prices do vary among the rental companies. Be careful to see the final price. They often lure you in with one price while the final price is much higher with a bunch of hidden fees. AllStays does have car rental options when you book online and we have the same rates as the likes of Travelocity but it's still best to shop around. We won't say we always have the best rate. No one does all the time no matter what they may claim.
Check your memberships and benefits
Auto clubs (AAA), groups (AARP), store clubs (Costco, Sams Club), credit cards, your workplace all may have special deals with a car rental company. It's worthwhile to check them out. If you still get some bills by mail, look through the junk they pile in there for car rental coupons and set them aside. I remember that I used to get a lot of them before switching to online statements.
Fill up the tank
This has always been a good way to overcharge you. If the rental company has to fill it up, they charge a premium for gas. Gas is already high enough without paying more for it. Look for the nearest gas station to the car rental office on your way out. Or use your GPS device to find it. Or take a moment to use online services like Gas Buddy or Google Maps during your trip. The closer you are to the return point, the more full the tank is upon return. Don't fill it up twenty miles from the return point because you will pay for that gas again.
Follow the rules and fine print
Sympathy and leniency have gone downhill like the economy. Return the car on time and not a minute late to avoid fees and penalties. The companies would be thrilled to charge you for another day and have the car back an hour late to rent it right out again.