To lower your rate, ask about discounts for any major national organizations, frequent flier programs and credit card programs to which you may belong. They’ll frequently offer deals on car rentals. (Those offered through AAA can be very good.) If you’re employed by a company that frequently rents cars, they may have a negotiated rate. Make sure to check.
Before you book online, do an Internet search for coupon or promotion codes to put into the booking engine of your car rental company’s site. Just type the name of the company followed by “coupon code” into the search field and you’ll often find special promotion codes that could save you anywhere from 5 to 20 percent off the cost of your rental. For more ideas on saving money when you rent a car, see Cruising for Car Rental Deals.
Decline the rental insurance – you may already be covered.
Chances are very good that your home auto insurance policy covers rentals that you drive. While the rental agent may try and pressure you into purchasing additional coverage, this is often unnecessary and redundant to your existing coverage. Just make sure to check your policy before assuming that you’re covered.
If you don’t own a car, or if your home policy doesn’t cover rentals, you may still have coverage. Extra info on car hire in Cuba
Avoid Airport Surcharges
Airports typically charge a premium for the convenience of picking up your car right after your flight and dropping it off right before the departure flight. Sometimes the convenience for us is worth the fee, but sometimes it’s not. Many times the car rental offices located inside the city offer lower rates so weigh your options if its worth it for you to get to the city first and then rent.
We did this recently in Calgary when we found out Enterprise was charging a $50 fee for airport pick up. The cab ride in cost us $25 – so we saved $25! Plus we didn’t need a car the first night in town since we arrived late, so we saved there too.
Read the fine print for tax and fee information.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve been seduced by a price tag online, only to be shocked at checkout at the amount of hidden taxes and fees that factor into my total. Just because a rental site advertises a car at $15/day doesn’t mean that’s all you’ll be paying.
Rent outside the airport.
If you’re flying in, the easiest place to rent a car is at the airport, but just know you’re likely paying 10 or 30 percent more for the convenience. Airport car rental kiosks often charge an airport concession fee, so it could be worth your while to take a taxi or public transit into town and rent a car from there. Read more about rent a car in Panama
Rental counter staff might offer to upgrade your car to a bigger or better model.
It’s common for the counter staff to give you the cost of the upgrade as a daily price, leaving you to work out the total upgrade cost for your whole trip.
Tips for avoiding an upgrade hard sell
You probably chose the right car for your trip when you booked your rental. If you were confident in your choice then, have your needs changed? If you’re driving in a city, for example, getting a bigger car can actually be more of a hassle. If you’re going on a road trip, a bigger engine is likely to need more fuel.
Take a moment to work out the total price of the upgrade, and remember that this is on top of what you’ve already paid. Decide if you’re happy to spend more of your trip budget on the car than you planned.