Rental Car Deals and 5 Tips for Saving the Most

Mar 06, 2014Reading Time: 2 min

In my job as a savings expert with, I get to travel quite a bit from city to city. But since the focus of my travel is to teach consumers how to save, I need to follow my own advice. As such, here are my favorite tips and tricks for finding car rental deals. 

Apply promotional codes. For savings on all of your travel needs, including rental cars, use promotional codes. Check coupon sites like where you’ll find coupons for car rental agencies such as Budget, Enterprise, Hertz and others. Bookmark the site to always start your search for savings, since it has an entire category dedicated to travel deals.

Bundle your travel. Booking a flight, hotel and rental car package will usually provide the better value for your purchase than booking these items separately. Recently I researched a trip to Sacramento, first with each component priced out separately; then bundled together. It was actually about $50 less expensive to book the flight, hotel and rental car in a bundled package; than it was to book JUST the hotel and flight individually.

Don’t double up on rental car insurance. If you have car insurance or a good credit card, chances are you don’t need to buy additional coverage on a rental car. Very often cards such as American Express will already provide you with the protection that you need. Check your policy and card agreement to see if you’re already covered for damage and liability.

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Upgrade for free. Assuming you don’t need an oversized vehicle to accommodate a larger family and your travel gear, book the lowest priced car, typically the economy or compact sized option. Many times the car rental agent will upgrade your order to a bigger size for free since the lower priced cars run out quickly.

Don’t prepay for gas. Unless you plan to use a full tank of gas while driving the rental car, opt out of prepaying for gas. The rental company is typically charging a slightly lower rate than local gas stations; however there is no reimbursement option for unused gas, so you may end up overpaying for gas. And when you do fill up, make sure you get a receipt at the pump. Some airport locations will charge you if you don’t show proof that you filled up within a 10-mile radius.