Book Car Rentals Early, But Then Keep Checking For Pricedrops

Here’s a strategy for saving money on your next car rental.

3 weeks in advance, Edgar of mouseprint.org reserved a car for a friend at $482.89. But as the day got closer, he kept checking the price online and it actually kept dropping, all the way down to $260.81. Then, one day before the rental, it shot back up to $414.91

So it looks like the strategy is to book early, using all the coupons and discounts you find, and then keep checking to see if the price falls. If it goes down, cancel the old one and snag the new one. It’s all just online reservations, they don’t charge your card until you actually show up, so there’s no harm in canceling and making new reservations a few times over.

Last Minute Car Renters Benefit from Hidden Price Drops [Mouseprint]

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  1. Etoiles says:

    You can also do this with airfare, sometimes. My husband and I had a jetBlue flight booked a couple of months in advance, and the price dropped after we booked it. He called them (that particular flight was on his CC rather than mine) and they refunded the difference.

  2. Tim says:

    Can’t you do this with flights as well?

  3. georgi55 says:

    Make sure you don’t use websites like Hotwire to do the early “worst case scenario” booking as they are 100% completely NON refundable. I usually make reservation direct with rental company in advance and keep checking hotwire for price drops. You can also setup notification on hotwire to receive email when price drops.

  4. WorkingDad says:

    It’s articles like this which keeps me tuned in to comsumerist.com.

    The snakebot article, not so much.

  5. apd09 says:

    I was just looking at car rental for Thanksgiving weekend and the prices are insane, almost 75.00 per day. I know it is a high demand weekend but the prices are almost doubled from what they normall are and I don’t see them dropping very much.

  6. 50ae says:

    I’ve been doing this for some time now. I check every day and usually am able to cut the price in half by the time I’m hitting the rental counter. I also ask for upgrades when I need to or to get a different car for my standard upgrade. I actually got a new VW Jetta at DFW this weekend which was so much nicer than anything else in the class at Avis.

  7. B* says:

    We once reserved a U-haul truck in advance, but weren’t paying until pickup. They called shortly before that to offer a reduced price if we paid that day.

  8. apple420 says:

    And next week comes the Consumerist story where somebody bought six different car reservations and is mad they won’t refund some non-refundable fee……….

  9. Jerry Vandesic says:

    I always like to use travelocity.com to look for rental cars. After you put in your rental dates, they display a very simple matrix of companies and car sizes that lets me figure out quickly which company has a good price for the days I am renting. I usually re-search every week or so to see if prices have changed, though the closer you get to the rental date the less likely you will see a meaningful reduction in the rate.

  10. BBG says:

    I’m an obsessive price checker when it comes to car rentals; I had assumed everybody did this.

    One thing I have found is that the prices are often better if you go to the rental company’s sites; Dollar for one has ‘city specials’ sometimes, which are usually a 10% discount, but they don’t appear on Travelocity or Expedia.

  11. cozynite says:

    I have used priceline.com in all of the instances that I needed a car rental. I have used the “name your price” feature. For example, for an upcoming weekend, I’m renting a mid size car for $15 a day with unlimited mileage. Granted, if you cancel, you cannot get your money back. But for the super low rate, I’m happy.

    • outshined says:

      This is great advice. It’s worth it to learn Priceline. I travel so much for a fraction of published rates. Car rentals can be tougher than hotel rooms but if you have plenty of time before your trip, you should do this. I’ve rented cars for $12 a day.

  12. John B says:

    Do this for ANYTHING where you have flexibility, hotel rooms especially.