Category Archives: Travel Rentals
As the busy summer car-rental season begins, prices are expected to climb. “In early June through the end of August, these rates will spike,” said Neil Abrams, president of Abrams Consulting Group, which tracks the car rental industry. Last July, for example, the average rate for a weekly airport rental of a compact car booked seven days ahead was $369.62, or 56 percent more than the $236.73 charged in March, according to the Abrams Travel Data Index. Here are some tips to keep costs down.
Let go of name brands. Look beyond Avis, Hertz and other big national chains to independent agencies like Payless and Fox Rent a Car. Because of lower operating costs, their cars, which can be found at Web sites like CarRentals.com and CarRentalExpress.com, typically cost 15 to 30 percent less than rentals from mainstream agencies. Another company with an unfamiliar name, at least to most Americans, is the German agency Sixt, which has begun opening branches in the southeastern United States, including in Atlanta, Miami and Orlando, Fla. To boost brand recognition, the company, whose fleet includes BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes and Volkswagens, is offering deep discounts. For example, a Mercedes C-class cost $38.81 a day in late May at Sixt’s Orlando airport location, according to a recent search. By comparison, the lowest rate offered by Hertz for the same dates was $50.57 a day for a Kia Rio or similar economy car.
Dig for virtual discounts. Search for discounts and coupons on sites like Promotionalcodes.com and CouponWinner.com, or type in the name of a rental company and “coupon code” into Google to see what turns up. Rental car companies offer discount codes to members of frequent flier programs, and other organizations they partner with, including AAA, Costco and BJ’s, so check those sites if you’re a member. But don’t stop there. Most major car rental companies allow you to combine discount codes with a coupon code. For example, a full-size car from Hertz over Memorial Day weekend at Washington Dulles airport was $255.71 in a recent search. Plugging in the discount code 62455 for United Airlines frequent fliers and Hertz’s promotional coupon code, 168210, brought the price down to $160.02.
Track rates through Autoslash.com. This site, which continually checks for lower rates and coupons until your trip date, can be used in one of two ways: You can track the price of a rental booked elsewhere, or you can book directly through Autoslash, which currently works with Payless, Sixt, Fox and E-Z Rent-A-Car, and the site will apply any discounts it finds.
The drawback with the second option is limited inventory. Major companies don’t like the idea that Autoslash capitalizes on the fact that consumers can usually change or cancel car reservations at any time without penalty. Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, as well as Hertz and Advantage, recently pulled its inventory from the site, as my colleague Ron Lieber recently reported. Enterprise, which owns National and Alamo, won’t let AutoSlash list its cars either.
Avoid the airport. Off-airport locations are typically cheaper than airport locations, which tend to tack on fees that can raise the price by 30 percent or more. For example, a compact rental from Hertz at Boston Logan International Airport over the Fourth of July weekend was recently listed at $50.49 a day, or $219 a week with taxes at Carrentals.com, a unit of Hotwire. By taking the subway to the Arlington stop and walking a couple of blocks to the local Hertz lot, a traveler could cut costs to $39.98 a day, or $146.65 with taxes for the week.
Reserve the car for longer than you need it. This may sound counterintuitive, but tacking an extra day on to that weekly rental or even adding a couple of hours to extend it over a weekend — with no intention of returning the car that late — can actually lower your rate. The strategy takes advantage of lower prices aimed at leisure travelers who are more likely to travel on weekends, said Marty Paz, a telecommunications manager from Las Vegas who has become something of a car rental pricing sleuth since he began avidly renting cars to pad his frequent flier account. (Last year alone he rented more than 100 vehicles, accumulating a quarter-million miles.)
Mr. Paz said you are essentially tricking the system into thinking you’re booking a two-day weekend rental, which typically has a lower base rate, with the goal of returning the car early. For example, the rate for a midsize car rental from Alamo at the Las Vegas International Airport, from noon on Thursday, June 7, to noon on Friday was recently listed on Alamo’s Web site for $35.95 (or a base rate of $27.27 plus $11.41 in taxes and fees). But extending the return time to 2 p.m. — two hours after the weekend rates “officially” kick in — drops the base rate to $15.18 a day. Though the overall estimated cost shows an additional $10.12 extra in hourly charges, you can still return the car at noon and get the lower rate, said Mr. Paz, who added, “Oops, you got there early.”
Negotiate. Even after you’ve booked the best possible rate, it can be worth swinging by the rental counter to see if you can finagle your way into a better car. “You don’t ask, you don’t get,” said Mr. Abrams, the rental car consultant. Success with this strategy can depend on everything from the type and number of cars on the lot to the mood of the clerk, he added. But some companies are happy to put you in a bigger, or less popular, vehicle for the cost of a compact — if it’s in their interest.
“I frequently need minivans for the volunteer activities I do with teens,” said Marty Paz, the car-rental rate hacker, who has noticed by perusing the parking lot that there is often a glut of minivans at one location he frequently rents from on the weekend. “Often times I’ve reserved an economy car for a Friday and just offered graciously: ‘If there’s a van, I’ll take that. I don’t mind,’ and for the price of the economy car I get the minivan.” (A larger vehicle, of course, will require more fuel.)
Prepay. Taking a page from hotels, rental car companies are offering discounts of up to 20 percent to travelers willing to prepay. In a recent search for weekly rentals at Boston Logan International Airport in mid June, for example, Hertz was offering economy cars for $173 a week at the “pay now” rate. The “pay later” rate was about $30 more. The trade off for locking in a low-rate? Cancellation penalties ranging from $10 with Budget to $50 if canceling within 24 hours with Hertz. And don’t forget about Priceline.com and Hotwire.com, which offer deep discounts to travelers willing to be locked into a preset price before finding out the rental car company.
Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel
- Owned and operated by Starwood Hotels, the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel sits next door to Epcot Center and Disney’s Hollywood Studios and is also near the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.
An Alamo and National Car Rental desk is located on site in the Guest Services area of the Dolphin Hotel for guests to drop off or pick up a rental car. Guests at the Dolphin Hotel receive Disney benefits like complimentary boat and shuttle rides to the Disney parks, free Disney parking and Disney character dining at hotel restaurants.
Buena Vista Palace
- Located in the Downtown Disney area and an official Disney World resort, the Buena Vista Palace offers guests exclusive Disney perks. As Mouse Savers states, an Alamo and National Car Rental desk is located inside the Buena Vista Palace and is easily accessed from other Disney parks and resorts by the Disney bus.
Buena Vista Palace features free transportation to all Disney parks, access to Disney golf courses and Disney character dining. It caters to families and large groups with spacious family suites.
Hilton Orlando Resort
- Part of Downtown Disney, the Hilton Orlando Resort is not part of the Disney family of hotels, but offers Disney perks to guests, like early and late hours at all the Disney parks. Guests can find an Avis Car Rental desk in the lobby of the Hilton Orlando Resort to pick up and drop off rentals. For guests at other properties wanting to rent from this location, the Disney bus stops right across the street from the Hilton.
Walt Disney World Car Care Center
- Offering guests of all the Disney hotels convenient access to an Alamo and National Rental Car center, the Walt Disney World Car Care Center sits near the parking exit of the Magic Kingdom. The Car Care Center provides shuttle transportation to and from Orlando International Airport and other Disney parks and hotels to pick up and drop off rentals.
- Take advantage of ongoing promotions for seniors. Many car rental companies offer percentage off discounts or special rates for seniors above a certain age.
- Search for last minute deals. One way is to go online and search the websites of several major car rental companies.
- Scan the Yellow Pages. Call around to check both the daily and weekly rates, although the weekly rate usually is lower. Don’t forget to contact some travel agencies to inquire about any unadvertised promotions.
- Check for member discounts if you are a member of AAA or AARP. Members often receive special discounts ranging from 5% to 25%.
- Rent on weekends when some companies offer up to a 50% discount.
- Do not settle for the first price you are quoted. Rates can change depending on supply and demand.
- Become a club member. Most car rental companies offer memberships that are free to join. You then qualify for discount savings and all sorts of other perks, such as earning airline miles or a free car rental for a day.
- Make sure you have a valid driver’s license. An American license will suffice in western European countries; if you’re planning to drive to eastern Europe or elsewhere, obtain an international driver’s license before you arrive.
- Call a travel agency three weeks before your trip and let it know the dates you wish to rent a car, and where you’ll want to drive. Since many American car rental agencies have European counterparts, you can easily check rates or availability and book or cancel a reservation online.
- Book the car, keeping in mind that European rentals are frequently stick-shift. Choose the model, size and dates of your rental.
- Determine where you wish to pick up and drop off the car. For a fee, which varies widely depending on the country, you can drop the car off at a different location from where you picked it up.
- Prepay for the car or make a deposit.
- Review European street signs and driving laws before you get behind the wheel. Be aware that the auto accident fatality rate in Europe is about four times higher than that in the United States.
- Find out what local nursing staffing agencies are in your area. Most traveling nurses work with agencies to find work. Some traveling nursing agencies provide workers with subsidized accommodations for each assignment. Others expect nurses to make their own arrangements. An agency may be willing to work with you as a provider of temporary lodging for their staffers or they may let you post advertisements in their offices.
- Contact each agency individually. Some agencies have a single local office. Others may be part of a larger chain. Ask to speak with the person in charge of travel nursing housing arrangements.
- Send information about your lodging to the agency. List all the rooms you have to rent, the rates you intend to charge and the type of amenities you offer, such as a bed and private bathroom as well as access to kitchen facilities. Some agencies may have specific requirements for all housing they use. List all hospitals that are near your house as well as all transportation options to and from the hospital. If you can, find out the approximate travel distance to and from your house to each facility.
- Purchase advertisements in nursing publications. Certain publications are geared toward exploring issues and ideas of concern to nurses.
- Place your reservation online. This is the best way to ensure that you will get the best possible rate. Online rates vary greatly from the rate the actual company will offer. Choose the airport locations as your desired pickup location. When you have decided which rental car company you desire, you will need to enter your card number, its expiration date, and CVC code to hold the reservation. You will receive a generated confirmation number that will allow to hold the reservation and the price rate you found.
- Provide your license, physical credit card and confirmation number when you arrive at the pickup location. The company will ask what method of insurance you would like to purchase to insure the car. Opt to use your own insurance company to avoid incurring charges for the use of the rental car company’s insurance.
- Furnish your Disney World luggage tag. This tag is important because vacation verification is required to rent a car from any rental car hub affiliated with Disney World. The rates for these authorized hubs are based on location. Also, these car rental companies do not offer unlimited mileage because the mileage around the Disney World vicinity is factored into the rental rate.
- Choose a form of payment. Although your credit card held the reservation, you can opt to use a different form of payment. Using a credit card is the most effective way to expedite the process. Cash payments are no longer allowed and debit cards require an additional deposit to secure the cost of the rental car, in addition to incidental charges. Therefore, paying with a credit card will save you money.
Compare prices of various rental companies through their websites. Also consider available car makes and models, service fees and location. To get the best — and cheapest — rental car deals, book in advance, because car rental rates tend to rise during holidays and summer. Online travel sites offer competitive rates
Check for Discounts and Rewards
Check for available rewards at various rental companies and choose the best deals. Many groups offer affiliation discounts such AAA and AARP. You may also qualify for a discount though your employer. Some government employers and private firms have arrangements with rental car firms to provide discounts for employees. Check with your employer’s human resources office or the rental car company you are doing business with. There are also bonus rewards offered by credit card companies — look for one that provides such rewards. To know which companies are offering promotions, check on coupon aggregator websites such as Zalyn. These companies gather car rental deals and filter them by location and availability dates. Car Rentals provides you with a chance to get the best deals on rental cars from various dealers. Budget Truck enables you to save through rental discounts.
Avoid Airport Rentals
Renting a car from an onsite airport car rental facility is expensive, due to taxes and surcharges. Going offsite may prove inconvenient, but you can save time and money if you map out your route using public transportation before you begin your trip.
Get a Compact Car
Small, economy cars tend to cost less to rent. Be flexible enough to take the least expensive car. To get deep discounts, use websites such as Hotwire, Priceline and Car Rental Hawaii, which all offer discounts on car rentals.
To get the most mileage for your money, avoid purchasing add-ons. Use your smartphone’s GPS, rather than buying it as an extra service for your rental car. If your own car’s insurance covers rental cars, avoid paying extra for rental car insurance — you generally don’t need it. Check with your insurance company before going to rent a car. Refuel the car at a gas station before returning it. If the tank has fewer gallons of gas than when you rented the car, the rental company will charge you for the extra gallons of gas you used — often at a higher price than what you would pay at a gas station.
- Decide if a home swap is right for you. There are several ways to trade vacation homes. Regardless of the details, however, you will be allowing a stranger to stay in your home. In some cases, home swapping organizations prescreen members, and often you are able and encouraged to communicate with the person with whom you are swapping to get to know them before the swap. Many people are comfortable with home swapping, because the people to whom they are entrusting their home are also opening up their home.
- Decide which type of swap is right for you. The most common option is the swapping of primary residences, in which case both parties are vacationing in each others’ homes at the same time. If you own more than one home, you can engage in nonsimultaneous swaps so you can travel at a different time than the person with whom you are swapping. With this type of swap, you may be able to swap vacation rentals and timeshares. Another type of nonsimultaneous swap could involve inviting a person to stay in your home while you are there, and vice versa.
- Many online organizations and websites offer all of the previously outlined house swapping options. Some home swap options even cater to specific age groups and preferences. Some of these organizations charge a membership fee; others are free.
- Once you have chosen the organization or site you would like to use to swap, familiarize yourself with its policies. Keep in mind that these organizations do not assume responsibility for anything that happens during the swap, such as property damage.
- When you are ready to trade houses or vacation rentals, check the site you are using for tips and etiquette. For example, you should leave written instructions for appliances, important contact numbers (if applicable) and the best way to contact you during the swap. You should also store and lock up valuables, leave room in a closet or dresser, and do a thorough cleaning before your guest’s arrival.
- Use a computer to search the street address of prospective vacation rentals. Verify that the location actually exists by searching the Internet white pages or real estate sites for those areas.
- Check for rentals that have been built within the last five years or those that have been renovated during the last few years to get the best deal for your dollar. Pay closer attention to those with postings of many photos. If the property interests you, then it would be a good idea to request more photos from the owner — just to be sure your potential rental property looks good in every room.
- Read the reviews given for the listed vacation property. Be sure there are many satisfied customers. For instance, at the website VRBO (which stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner), a review section is available at the bottom of the rental page you are viewing where customers sometimes leave comments. This online site was established in 1995, allowing homeowners to advertise their vacation rentals, now totaling more than 140,000 in more than 100 countries.
- Use a credit card to reserve your rental. If the home turns out to be a fake address or not as purported in the description, you can dispute the charge.
Find the best moving truck rentals at the best price to ease the stress of moving house.
When it’s time to move, you can save money by renting a moving truck yourself instead of hiring movers who use their own truck. Enlist family and friends or hire movers to help you load and unload. Either way, you’ll save money over hiring full service movers.
- Decide what you’ll be moving. Make a list of all furniture and estimate the number of boxes you’ll need to move. Remember to include patio furniture, lawn mowers, and any other items that aren’t necessarily in your house.
- Make a short list of moving truck rental companies to call. These may include Penske, Budget, U-Haul, Ryder, among others.
- Be prepared to speak to moving truck rental representatives with a general idea of this information:
- Prepare a list of all of your furniture and the estimated number of boxes and how large the boxes are (how many of each by approximate size).
- Know the approximate number of miles you’ll be traveling with the truck rental.
- Decide if you need a car carrier or tow dolly to rent also.
- Age of all drivers of the moving truck.
- What the policy is on insurance for the moving truck.
- Speak with moving truck rentals. Have a separate sheet of paper prepared for each moving truck rental company that includes this general information (to be filled out partially by you before speaking to the moving truck company and to partially be filled in while speaking to the representative):
- name of moving truck rental company
- phone number of each company
- representative’s name you speak with
- miles of your move (local or long distance, figure the approximate miles)
- condition of the truck, its age, whether it has air conditioning, etc.
- date of move, renting a truck early or in the middle of the month may be cheaper than at the end of the month
- move destination (address of old and new homes)
- list of of furniture, boxes, and other possessions to be moved
- quote for moving truck rentals
- Shop online for to find the best moving truck rentals at the best price if you want more quotes to choose from. Search using ‘moving truck rentals’ to find companies other than the ones you called in person.
Some websites have you enter your information into a website form, then they email you a moving truck rental quote. Be prepared and have the same information handy as in Step 4 to complete the online form.
- Compare the quotes. Try to compare apples to apples. Use the information to make a decision for renting the best truck for your move.
- Perform an online search for car rental discounts and coupons. Compare rates of different car rental companies. Some companies offer deals for certain vehicles or for reservations made for a certain period of time. Look for AAA discounts or senior discounts, for instance.
- Avoid renting a car from a car rental facility on or near the airport; rather, rent from a facility away from the airport instead. On-site airport car rental facilities charge taxes and airport surcharges that increase the price of your rental.
- Find package deals if your rental car is part of a vacation you are planning. Travel companies often offer deals featuring a discounted rate on your rental car if you book your flight and hotel in the same package.
- Rent a car from an independent car rental company instead of a large international car rental chain. Independent facilities often have better customer service and are more likely to give a favorable rate because they can set their own policies and procedures.
- Reserve your rental car as far ahead of time as you can. Ask for favorable rates. Call the rental facility periodically to inquire if more affordable rates are available. Car rental rates are determined by the amount of cars on the lot at the time of your reservation. Since this always changes, the rates also change frequently.
- Rent an economy car and avoid purchasing any add-ons. Economy cars give you the best mileage for your money, and you can often bring your own add-ons, such as a roof rack, car seat or global positioning system (GPS) rather than paying extra for the same amenities.
- Inquire about weekly rental rates and daily rental rates. Often weekly rates are more favorable. Avoid returning your rental car one or more days too early because your weekly rate may not apply anymore. Make sure to return the car on time.
- Fill up the car with gas before returning it to the car rental facility. Find low gas rates at gas stations away from the airport. Avoid signing up for the rental facility’s prepaid gasoline plan because you often end up paying more than you would if you filled the car up yourself.
- Refrain from purchasing the added insurance when renting a car. Check your own car insurance to see if it covers rental cars, as this way you can avoid the extra charge.