3 ways to save big on your next car rental

Senior Producer/Reporter
Yahoo Finance

It’s been a record-breaking year of summer travel for Americans taking all modes of transportation, according to a recent AAA report. For those traveling by car, close to 40 million travelers hit the road over Independence day – up 5% from last year – and there are no signs of slowing down for the upcoming Labor Day holiday.

While the cost to rent a car can vary widely, this is certainly one part of your trip where you can save big. Below are three ways you can drive away for less.

Check out AutoSlash: Don’t let the outdated look of the website turn you away from this free service that can save you an average of 30% for your car rental. You can either get a quote and book your rental through AutoSlash, or track an existing booking that you’ve already made on your own. It will monitor your reservation, up until the point you pick up your car, and alert you when the price drops. The site constantly scours the internet for the best coupon codes and discount codes – not to mention all the potential membership discounts you qualify for like AAA, AARP, and your credit card rewards.

Averaging about a thousand rentals a day, the site has been in operation since 2010 and makes money from small commissions through bookings and by driving online traffic to partner sites. “Even if we don’t make that much [money] from one transaction, we would rather have our consumers have the best experience getting the best deal, and then recommend us to their friends and family,” says AutoSlash founder Jonathan Weinberg. Later this year, the site will roll out with their design refresh that will include user logins.

For most of their reservations, you can book now and pay later. Recently the site began to offer even lower rates called “Slash deals”  that do require paying upfront. But you can always get your money back if you cancel 48 hours before the pickup time.

Book through a rental car loyalty club: It’s free to sign up and you’ll likely get 15% to 30% off your next rental just for joining. Not only will you get the latest deals, perks and upgrades sent right to your inbox, the best VIP perk of all allows you to bypass the line at the counter and go straight to your car.

Exclusive member benefits include complimentary upgrades (when available), the ability to book free rentals and accessories using points that you accrue, and some even have travel partners where they let you exchange airline miles for rental points.

Book your neighbor’s car: Skip traditional rental companies and go with a peer-to-peer car sharing service like Turo or GetAround. Their mobile apps make it easier than ever for both to book people’s cars when they’re not using it.

You can find Turo in over 5,500 cities worldwide, with 272,000 listed vehicles in over 850 makes and models. “Renters will save on average 35% compared to traditional rental companies, and hosts can maximize the value of their asset by earning an average of $625 a month,” says Steven Webb, Turo’s director of communications. 

Earlier this year, Turo rolled out with their “Extras” program where renters can book additional accessories with their vehicles, like picnic baskets and outdoor camping equipment, child safety seats, and coolers. And coming this year, Webb says drivers can expect a new system that allows for the ability to remotely unlock and lock the vehicle.

Getaround already has a remote locking system in place. Its integrated hardware and software platform has evolved to provide a seamless user experience that lets renters instantly reserve, locate, and unlock vehicles with their app without needing to collect keys.

The site, which offers thousands of cars in 15 cities across the country, was founded by Jessica Scorpio who realized there were a billion cars in the world that sat idle for 22 hours a day. Cars can be rented by the hour, or the day, with insurance and 24/7 roadside assistance included.

If you’re hesitant to go this route because of insurance worries, know that both renters and hosts are covered at Turo and Getaround with solid insurance programs and policies, as well as roadside assistance. 

What are some ways you’ve saved on your car rental? Share them with me at Jeanie531 or in the comments below.

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