Tag Archives: rent a car
A rental car can be a big chunk of vacation expenses. If you add in all the state & local taxes, airport fees, facility use fees, underage fees, insurance, additional driver fee, refueling fees… it could get very expensive, very easily. But if you spend a little time you can save a lot of money and get the best rental car deal.
Basics of getting a low car rental price
To get the best price you have to understand a few basic things.
- Contract Ids: Contract IDs are numbers issued to various business and organizations for their employees/members to use. Check with your employer if their contract ID can be used for personal travel, if not, no worries, there a LOT of other contract IDs you are eligible for. For example, use AAA Contract Id, Entertainment Book id, almost all airlines have their own contract Ids, even Walmart has one which is available for shoppers, meaning everyone. Each rental car company has a different name for this, Hertz calls this CDP (Corporate Discount Program), Avis has AWD (Avis Worldwide Discount), with National it is just called Contract Id.
- Rate Code: Special offer rate code. If you include this, you are requesting a specific promotion like 50% off weekend rates instead of the standard rate. Your rental period should qualify for the rate you are requesting. For example, you cannot request the half-off weekend rate if you are renting from Monday-Friday.
- Coupons/Promotion Code: This I think is the most widely used. It is just a code that if applied knocks off $$ or % from your rental price.
- Convention/meeting number: This is applicable and worth a try if you are going for a convention or even a wedding. When you give this number and ask for a quote, you are given the group rate instead of the individual rate.
How and where to to find these contract Ids and coupon codes
- Ask your employer first. Check if you can use their contract ID for personal use. It might even include extras like rental insurance.
- Look online. I love MouseSavers.com. They mainly cater to the Walt Disney and Disney land destinations but the code they have is applicable in any city. Check out their discount pages for individual rental car companies for contract Ids and coupon codes.
- Check out the organization or clubs that you are a member of but not included in the above mentioned sites
- Rental car mailing list. This will allow you to get coupon codes in your mail.
- Check out Flyertalk.com forums and Fatwallet.com/forums as well.
Figuring out the contract Ids is a one time process. Choose 4-5 Ids to work with, so that you can start with that every time. I have found that American Express platinum ID and AAA almost always give me the best rate with Hertz and Costco gets me the best deal from Avis… you get the drift.
Tips to get the best deal on a car rental
Now that you have the basics covered, it is now a mix and match game to get the best deal.
- Shop around. Check with regular travel sites like Kayak, Expedia or Travelocity to get the going rate.
- After you get a rough idea of the price, combine the Contract Id, Rate code and Promotion code to get the cheapest price. Continue reading