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How to Save on Car Rentals

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Hitting the road in a rental car doesn't have to mean taking a hit to your wallet. Here are eight simple ways to reduce the cost of your next rental:

1. Book Early

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Photo © Erin Huffstetler
The cheapest rental cars sell out quickly. Save yourself from the expense of a forced upgrade by booking a car as soon as you have solid travel plans.

2. Comparison Shop

Did you know that the rates offered through a rental company's website, 1-800 number and local office aren't always the same? It's true. To ensure you're getting the best price possible, check all three sources, and then compare those rates to the rates offered through independent travel sites like Travelocity, Expedia and Orbitz.

3. Reserve the Smallest Car Possible

Reserve the smallest car that meets your needs, and hope for a free upgrade to a roomier vehicle. Rental companies frequently overbook their smaller fleets, resulting in the need to upgrade customers. Roll the dice, and one of those customers could be you.

4. Compare Daily and Weekly Rates

Daily and weekly rental rates can vary hugely. Before booking a daily rental, check to see if renting the vehicle for longer could net you a better deal.

5. Use a Non-Airport Facility

Airport rental counters sure are convenient, but just how much are you paying for that convenience? To find out, call around, and compare the rates of a few off-site facilities. You may just find that the savings is worth the hassle of a short trek to an outside office.

6. Skip the Rental Insurance

Rental insurance may not be as vital as rental companies lead you to believe. Before agreeing to extra charges, call your auto insurance provider to find out if your coverage extends to rentals (usually it does).

7. Ask for a discount

Want a better price than you've been quoted? Just ask for it. Rental companies have all sorts of discounts – AAA, AARP – you name it. Many will even lower their price to beat a competitor's. Fish around for a better rate, and you're likely to get it.

8. Fill the Tank Yourself

Did you know that most rental companies charge a hefty surcharge if you don't return the car with a full tank of gas? As if today's gas prices aren't bad enough! Check your rental contract to see if this is part of the agreement, and if necessary, fill up the car before taking it back.

9. Look for a Repositioning Deal

When too many rental vehicles end up at slow locations, they need to be moved to busy locations. One way this is accomplished is by offering renters a special deal on one-way trips. Dig through the deals on Thrifty.com, and you'll find rentals for as little as $1 a day!

10. Become an Vehicle Transporter

Skip the car rental all together, and become a vehicle transporter. Companies like autodriveaway.com have vehicles that they need to get from one location to another. If you're chosen for one of their transports, you'll get a free ride and a free tank of gas.
Related Video
How to Save Cash on Car Rentals
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