Rental-car prices can add up in a hurry once taxes and fees come into play. To get the best deal on your next rental car, compare prices from several companies, and then click through to the checkout stage to determine the total inclusive price. Look for coupons and discounts directly from the companies as well.
Compare Travel-Deal Website Prices
Select your rental dates and location on a site such as Kayak, Hotwire or Expedia. These sites aggregate deals from major car-rental agencies, showing the best potential options for the dates and city selected. Once you've found a reasonable deal, click it to pull up the rental-company information and full price, including taxes.
Use the best rate shown as a benchmark to compare rates at actual rental-car websites such as Alamo or Budget. For instance, a recent search on Expedia showed prices for a one-day Minneapolis car rental at $43 per day from Sixt, while the Sixt website showed $33 per day for the same time frame. The time spent researching several options can save you loads of money in the long run.
Look for Discounts From the Rental Companies
Rental-car companies often offer discounts or deals that can save a chunk off your rental bill. Click the "deals" or "offers" tab on your favorite rental-car company's site to see if any of the deals apply to your travel needs. Hertz, for instance, has deals such as renting for three days and paying for two, or saving 15 percent when renting over a weekend or for an entire week.
If you aren't sure which company to choose, visit deal site RetailMeNot to see all available discounts from rental-car companies.
Stay Away From the Airport Rental Office
Even though the airport may be the ideal place to pick up your rental car when you arrive in town by plane, it's not the best place to find a deal. Airport car-rental locations typically charge more per day per vehicle. Top that off with airport concession fees and taxes, and your rental bill can quickly get out of hand. Instead, save money by choosing a rental-car office away from the airport. The savings for a multiday rental are well worth the price you'll pay for a cab or Uber ride to a rental location just a few miles away.
Even so, it's still worthwhile to compare an airport car-rental rate with another nearby rental location. If you only need a car for a day or if the nearest offsite rental location amounts to a hefty cab fare, renting from an airport location may make sense.
Book Through Costco Travel
Costco members are in luck: The company's travel website finds discounts and deals from Alamo, Avis, Budget and Enterprise, showing price options for different vehicle classes based on your travel criteria. Click through an option that appeals; in some cases, you'll get an even better deal by selecting a higher car class. Costo Travel also offers optional extras such as car seats and GPS units to rent for the duration of the trip. To lock in the Costco Travel deals, you'll have to input your Costco membership number. No credit-card information is required to book through Costco Travel, and there are no cancellation fees.
Rent Over a Weekend
Including weekend days in your rental can save a load of cash off the daily rate. If your schedule is flexible or if you need the rental car in your hometown, renting from Friday to Monday can net you a deal for under $10 per day, not including taxes and fees. Enterprise offers weekend deals from select locations when you book directly on the company's website. Even if you need the car for a little longer than Friday through Monday, select the weekend rate option, then input your travel dates. You may pay a higher price for the nonweekend days, but you'll get the discount for Friday to Monday.