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How to Save Money on Rental Cars Using Autoslash.com

by on June 17, 2011 · 49 comments

in Hertz

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I have to be honest, I’m very basic when it comes to car rentals. I have elite status with Hertz, which saves me time at the airport, and I love their #1 Rewards program – for every $500 I spend, I get a free day rental, which is often over $90 in value since I’m NYC-based.

However, I have an upcoming trip to Spain and I’m planning to do three days of driving up the Costa Brava, so I wanted a convertible and Hertz had nada. So I then thought I’d test drive autoslash.com, which is a website I’ve been hearing a lot about lately which was created by some fellow Flyertalkers. The whole point of Autoslash is that they make your reservation and then automatically check to see if a lower price is available and if so, they email you and you can re-book at the lower price – for free. Sounds too good to be true, huh? Well here’s my experience:

Simple, clean interface

On Wednesday I searched for a convertible rental for Barcelona airport on my desired dates and within 5 minutes I had a reservation booked at Payless Car rental at Barcelona airport for $403 total and a 250km max mileage per day. I wasn’t crazy about the mileage max, but I figured I could live with it. Overall, the site was very simple, in a good way – they don’t even make you sign-up for an account or store a credit card. I was skeptical that I’d actually get an email about the price decreasing since I’m renting during a peak summer week, however not 24 hours later, I received the following message:

“Hi Brian,

Thanks for booking with AutoSlash. We review each reservation daily to see if we can find additional savings for our customers. We found a better rate on your upcoming rental in Barcelona on x/x/2011 (AutoSlash Trip XXXXXXXXID: ).

You are currently booked with Payless at the rate of $403.98. AutoSlash is able offer you a discounted rate of $368.93 on the identical vehicle with Europcar, a savings of $35.05.

If you’d like to switch from Payless to Europcar and lock in the savings, just reply to this email. If you’d like to stick with Payless, no need to respond. We’ll continue to track rates with Payless, and let you know if we find a better deal.

If you need to change or cancel your reservation, just click here.”

I immediately replied, “Yes, please switch my reservation as long as its the same type of car” and shortly I got a new confirmation with Europcar and to make it even more awesome, my new reservation does not have a daily mileage limit.

I’m really impressed with this site and I have not been compensated (beyond the money they’ve saved me) to say this. It seems like autoslash.com makes their money making a small commission directly from the agency, so this service seems like an easy win if you are looking to save money on your future rentals.

Has anyone else had any experience with autoslash.com or have any other money saving tips for rental cars?

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • JAX

    I agree, rental cars are a tricky game. One of my personal favorite ways to redeem for one day or short rentals is with my Discover Cashback bonus. Enterprise and Alamo give you a $40 rental certificate for just $20 CB Bonus money. Other than that, true to the form of autoslash, you have to shop, shop, shop – and do so early! Example: I have an upcoming trip to Kodiak, Alaska. My Small SUV, Subaru Forester or similar is just about $700 for a week rental if I booked today with Avis. Fortunately, I shopped early hoping to pull an “Autoslash” on the price, but as it turns out, that $438 weekly rental is seeming to be as good as it’s gonna get! Autoslash sounds very interesting. I will have to check it out. Thanks, Brian!

  • http://cheeseweb.eu Andrew

    I used autoslash for a recent trip to Ireland. I booked a car at Thrifty through them, and like you, 24-hrs later I got a mail stating there was a new lower price. Awesome! I do like that they take that kind of work on instead of you having to keep checking.

    Now we are headed to Canada for a month and I’m looking for a car… pretty pricey at the moment at close to $2500 for an intermediate size car, so I’m hoping that Autoslash will work it’s magic! I’ll also try bidding at Priceline, but I’ve never gotten any good pricing them (compared to what some people manage!). Last resort is Discount Rentals which is off airport with a free shuttle, but is half the price.

  • Glenn

    do they also apply coupon/promo codes and so forth? Lots of good mileage bonuses out there. I just got 3000 US bonus miles with Avis for a 3 day rental at TPA at cost about $120 total. But you nee dto use the right codes when you make your reservation.

  • tassojunior

    I agree with Glenn. I use the US “hot” promos to get thousands of US miles instead of autoslash. I always check autoslash to see what the rates are first though.

  • http://www.autoslash.com AutoSlash

    We’re happy we were able to save you some money Brian!

    @Glenn–We absolutely do apply coupons and discount codes. We automatically figure out which ones yield the best rates, saving you the hassle of searching for and testing them. What we do not do however is try to maximize mileage and other point bonuses. We are laser focused on getting our customer the absolutely lowest possible rate. Bonuses can sometimes be worthwhile, but that’s not our focus.

  • The Points Guy

    @Autoslash- thanks for chiming in. So what would happen if we made a reservation and then added a promo code for miles when we picked up the car? Would it be eligible or are rates through autoslash not eligible for mileage promos?

  • http://www.autoslash.com AutoSlash

    Our rentals are definitely eligible, but there’s a very good chance that our system will automatically override the promo code you entered if it finds another that will yield a lower rate. It’s not really point/mileage aware.

    On the other hand, if you email us and let us know that you don’t want your promo codes changed, we do have a way of blocking any changes and will just track the rental going forward for price drops (which can be significant).

    Lastly, without getting into a holy war on this topic, I want to point out that if given the choice between say triple points somewhere and saving 50% on a rental (which happens often with us), there’s probably more benefit to the money savings. If it’s only say $10 off, then it might be a different story. Definitely shades of gray here.

  • Alan

    I guess my issue with autoslash is that I’ve been able to find cheaper rates initially and was never quite sure that they’d be able to get down to the rates I currently had available.

    Two examples:

    1) On a recent 9 day rental in France, I had a rate of about $600 (9 days, compact, auto) from Kemwel. The rate at autoslash was $715.

    2) On an upcoming rental in Calgary (10 days, compact), I was able to get a rate of $210 CAD through AAA (Hertz) while the autoslash rate is $282.

    Sort of a bird in the hand situation… Autoslash may get a better rate eventually, but…

  • http://www.autoslash.com AutoSlash

    @Alan Did you book with us or just look at the rate shown in the initial search? The rate shown in the initial search are basically rack rates (we’re not allowed to show discounted rates up-front). The discounting comes after booking.

    We are 100% free, so there really isn’t anything to close. Make a booking elsewhere at the best rate you can and then make one with us and see which one in the end wins out. You can change or cancel at any time without penalty.

    Lastly, if you are AAA then let us know (eventually we’ll automate this preference). We can often use that to your advantage and may even be able to get you lower than your current rate booked through AAA by creative use of coupon codes in addition to the AAA CDP. Email us the details at supportautoslash.com with your current rental details, and we’ll be happy to see what we can do for you.

  • Alan

    @autoslash… I didn’t try booking through you, just did a search on rates…

    Thanks… I’ll give it a shot…

  • Tenmoc

    How are they doing this? Are they a travel agency/agent and booking rebooking under them or do they protect the original booking path?

  • http://www.autoslash.com AutoSlash

    Yes, we are a travel agency and you book directly with us. Unlike other sites where you book with them and they are then hands-off, we take a much more active approach with your reservation, constantly trying to lower your rate through various means. We will even notify you if we find a better deal with a different company than you are booked with and give you the option to switch (always with the customer’s permission) as with Brian’s reservation it his original post.

  • tivoboy

    Yeah, I’ve found and LEARNED of course that one has to go through the whole booking process with autoslash in order for them to try and work their magic. This WASN’T the way the system worked when it first launched (If I recall correctly from sometime last year) where they did display some discounts on the offer page. Anyhow, go through the process, click submit and wait a bit for a better rate to come through.

    I find them match or beat the best rate I can find about 60% of the time, not 50 and now 75%. There are often varied AAA rates, which I don’t think anyone will properly impliment (an Illinois rate in CA or DC compared to a AAA CA rate in IL will often be different rates with different companies especially hertz) so I think a scrappy renter armed with all the tricks can OFTEN but not always source an as good or better deal.

  • Nick

    In my opinion, the Autoslash savings out weigh the bonus miles. I just completed a 2 day Hertz rental in ROA for 19 bucks including airport taxes.

  • Chris

    I’ve had good luck with Autoslash before. They got me the best rate on a 3 day rental in SLC for a midsize for $48…far cheaper than anyone’s online rates.

    @autoslash: Do we simply email you our AAA info and can you add this to the profile or does this need to be done for every reservation…and can we send you info on reservations currently in the pipeline?

  • Nick E

    Does this work for one-way rentals too? Heading down to New Zealand in November and want to get a one-way car to maximize our exploration of the country without paying NZD$600!

    Thanks for the info Brian and @AutoSlash!!

  • Jade

    Thanks for the useful information! I just tried it. The Hertz rack rate for 3 days including tax at Canada was approx $288. After I went thruogh the whole booking steps, I got an email confirmation and the cost became $277 which is slightly lower than $288. For some reasons, I also did not see the message “We review each reservation daily to see if we can find additional savings for our customers. ” Did I miss some steps here? Would appreciate your thoughts!

  • http://www.autoslash.com AutoSlash

    @tivoboy Good memory! You are correct that way back in the early days we did show discounted pricing up front. Let’s just say that the rental companies were not fans of this model, so we had to switch to our current model. As for scrappy renters being able to beat our pricing, it can certainly happen, and we’re all for folks getting the best possible rates. There literally can be thousands of different ways of optimizing a particular rental. Of course many folks don’t have the knowledge or the time to accomplish this (and often can’t beat us anyway), so they leave it to us to get them a great rate. We’re more than happy to oblige. :)

    @Chris We don’t really have profiles yet, but this is high on our list. For now, drop us an email and we will re-check any pending reservations you have with us to see if AAA helps (often it doesn’t). You’ll have to email us for any future reservations until we get profiles in place.

    @NickE Yes, it definitely does work for one-way rentals. We’ll see what we can do to get your New Zealand rates down a bit.

    @Jade Your rate wasn’t actually reduced at all *yet*. The difference you saw was related to the initial pricing being in USD, while the confirmation is in CAD. Check your email now though. :)

  • Jade

    AutoSlash, Yes, I just got another email. Now it went down from 277 CAD to 221 CAD. This is COOL! I booked the car rental a while ago and got 236 CAD at that time. Now it is lower than what I got a while ago and might be getting lower in the future… Thanks!

  • ron

    On a somewhat-related note, I just booked a week’s rental out of Calgary and wanted to make people aware of the HUGE discrepancy that sometimes exists between rental rates on and off-airport. A week-long SUV rental with Enterprise cost me about $400 US. The same rental from the airport location would have cost me about $1000!!! Yes, I’ve now got the hassle of taking a cab from the airport to the rental location but for $600 I’m more than happy to live with that inconvenience, obviously.

    (And I did try to use Autoslash, by the way, but it apparently won’t let me book – at least in Canada – with Enterprise)

  • http://www.autoslash.com AutoSlashs

    @ron Very smart move checking off airport locations, since as you’ve found you can save a bundle. I do want to point out for everyone though that the reverse can also be true (airport being cheaper than off-airport), so to ensure maximum savings, check both.

    As for Enterprise, you’re correct. Because of the deep discounts we offer, not all rental companies have chosen to offer their rentals via our service. We are in talks with the holdouts though and hope to offer all of the major companies eventually.

  • Robert Burns

    Good Start on this Autoslash!

    I currently use rentalcars.com for work bookings since they search all companies.

    I will definitely switch to Autoslash once you have Avis, Budget, National, Alamo, and Enterprise in your search. You would have the advantage since you show rack rates and it can only get better from there.

    Keep us posted!

  • http://www.autoslash.com AutoSlash

    @Robert – If you search rentalcars.com and decide to book one of the companies we support (Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty, etc.) then consider completing the reservation with us. With rentalcars.com, you’re stuck at the initial price, while as you mentioned, with AutoSlash, your rate only goes down from there.

  • Robert Burns

    @AutoSlash.

    Will Do!

    Unfortunately I find that Enterprise (no points program grrrrr!) has been the cheapest for 9/10 of my past biz trips and once was Avis.

    I love Hertz but nothing hurts more than their prices ;)

    I will certainly keep this in mind though.

    Thanks!

  • http://www.autoslash.com AutoSlash

    You’d be surprised just how competitive Hertz can be after discount codes are creatively applied. Some basic CDP’s can cut your rate in half or close to it, and then there are coupons that take $50 off a weekly rental on top of that. The next time you rent, email us your best deal to support(at)autoslash.com and we’ll see if we can beat it!

  • tivoboy

    I like renting from hertz, long time user, five star Gold member, etc. The prices on autoslash for hertz are always the highest coming out of the gate, but DO drop once they do their magic. One of the bigger differences between MY ability to get a lower rate and autoslash ability to get a lower rate on hertz is the combination of coupons AND discounts. I can usually leverage what autoslash has done to find an applicable CDP deal on hertz and then use a $$ off coupon to get it even lower. Autoslash doesn’t seem to do this and probably doesn’t have the either user based logic or the combinatory algorithm to be able to put this type of deal together. Also, the $$ off usually apply at rental END so one has to be sure to keep it in mind when returning, AS probably probably wants to keep it easier for the user.

    Hopefully, as their process, logic and systems progress (and having a user login would be necessary for this) they will be able to actually GET that lower rate that a highly informed user CAN get.

    At the moment, I think they are using and ORGANIC system (and by that I mean a BIO-ASSET) to do the deal finding. :-)

  • http://www.autoslash.com AutoSlash

    @tivoboy Interesting comments, but I’m not sure I fully understand everything that you said. Happy to discuss further off-line if you like. Feel free to email us at support(at)autoslash.com and I’ll get back to you.

    Regarding your bio-asset comment, it’s actually a binary-bio (sort of like Terminator). :) We have many automated systems in place that help to determine the optimal discounts, but we still do oversee things with a human touch to ensure the best possible savings for our users. Every day though the automated systems are getting better and better, so I definitely do foresee a day very soon where there will be no human involvement at all.

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  • Marty

    Just used the site to rent from LAX and returning to SAN 9 days later. Just got an email for $9 cheaper already.

    As I’m flying into LAX and then out of SAN (not my decision, was stuck with it), I noticed I’m getting hit with an almost $75-80 drop off fee.

    Anyone know of any creative ways of getting at least a bigger discount to offset the one-way “fee”? First time at LAX or SAN, so don’t know what off-site places there are that might be better and that can provide shuttle from airport to their off-site rental terminal?

    I’m all ears! Thx!!

  • http://www.autoslash.com AutoSlash

    Off-airport rental locations are not allowed to shuttle to/from the airport in general. You’d need to grab a cab or other transportation to get there on your own. A site like TaxiWiz.com can help to estimate the costs.

    In your specific case though, I highly doubt you’re going to do any better off-site. Your base rate is only $128.46 for a 9-day intermediate rental. That is very low and a super deal. Even with the drop fee of $80, it’s among the lowest I’ve seen. I did a quick check and found nothing off-airport that even came remotely close.

    Trust me, you’re already getting a great deal on a one-way rental, and if rates drop further, then you’ll be all set to take advantage of it.

  • Marty

    Thanks AutoSlash — I was definitely sure it was a good deal, but shocked me when I saw that the companies still charge the drop fees. Either way, no biggie! Thanks for a great service.

    I was surprised to see that the economy cars were more expensive than the midsize which is why I went that route. I usually thought the smaller cars were cheaper, but probably due to economy, gas, etc.. Figured, for the limited driving I’ll be doing, it didn’t substantiate the huge difference in price vs. gas, etc.

    Thanks again!

  • http://www.autoslash.com AutoSlash

    Drop fees in general are somewhat variable. I’d say that 50% of the one-way rentals have them and 50% do not. Keep in mind that the rental companies have fleets that are somewhat fluid. Sometimes they have more in a certain location than another. This can be a good thing if they at close to or at capacity.

    On the other hand, if they have too few cars in a location to meet upcoming demand, it’s in their best interest to incent people (by lowering rates and/or eliminating drop fees) in order to get more cars in. There’s really no way to know this up-front, so you just have to price it out and see what comes back.

    In a similar vein, you can have a premium car that is renting for less than an economy car. We see this all the time. It’s all supply and demand–too many reservations for an economy car and not enough for a premium car.

    The cool thing about AutoSlash is that we’ll alert you to these situations automatically and give you the option to upgrade for less. Some folks jump at this, but others would prefer to be in a more economical car to save money on gas. That’s why we offer the option as opposed to automatically switching people.

  • Marty

    Oh wow.. that’s great! I actually didn’t know about the upgrading portion of your service. If I am in a midrange class, will it also consider a “economy” (downgrade) as an “upgrade” or only for the next class up?

    Just was trying to figure out if it makes more sense to book the economy rate (even though higher) and quite possibly get a better rate for a better car.

    I didn’t know if your service monitors rates above and below the class you’re currently booking or just above.

    Thx!

  • http://www.autoslash.com AutoSlash

    We don’t consider downgrades right now. It would be too cumbersome with the system we currently have in place. Eventually we’ll have user profiles where you’ll be able to specify at a granular level what car class/company you are willing to take under what conditions, but we’re not there yet.

  • http://www.autoslash.com AutoSlash

    Here’s a great example of a situation where an upgraded car can be had for less:

    http://bit.ly/l0m1Is

    Notice how the Premium car is going for literally hundreds less than an economy car? It could be a mistake, but more likely they have an over abundance of premium cars for that period that they are trying to rent.

    The reason I found this is because our systems caught this earlier, and we just switched one of our customers who was actually booked in an economy car to the premium and saved him over $300 from his original rate. The power of AutoSlash. :)

  • YesMissWin

    I used Autoslash because of this post and they’ve saved me nearly 50% off a painful one day LAX rental that started just over $100 for an ECONOMY car. It’s actually gone down 3 times in the last week and I’m fine with the current rate. Anything else is gravy. I’ve told everyone about how awesome the service is.

    Thanks for the tip Points Guy.

  • Arti Sood

    Its the best car rental company and you have save Money…

  • Paulpepper

    I too like renting with Hertz due to my #1 club and no need to go to the counter to pick up my car.
    Recently I booked a Hertz car in FLL for 3 days + 2 hrs at over $100/day for $444 total (due to one way rental).
    I too thought I would try AutoSlash. First quote for same rental was for $347 – already a $100 saving. Next day I got a new quote for $246 (same car, etc). That’s a $200 savings!
    If all works well, as I expect it will, I am sold.

  • Paulpepper

    Sorry – the new car is with Thrifty, but same terms otherwise.
    I’ll switch from Hertz to Thrifty for $200 savings!

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  • Vicki

    Hi Brian, I just went to autoslash and they posted the message below. If I understand it correctly they will no longer have availability for Dollar, Thrifty and Hertz to be booked through their site?

    To our loyal customers:
    We regret to inform you that Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, Inc. – the corporate parent of Dollar and Thrifty, and Hertz Corporation which also owns Advantage – took action to prevent our customers from booking rentals from these brands through AutoSlash.
    This action came on the heels of this February 18, 2012 New York Times article, which encouraged the renting public to “make a statement” by “booking through AutoSlash and patronizing Hertz, Thrifty and the other companies that play along.” We’re disappointed that these companies have now chosen to reverse course and adopt this anti-consumer position, after having participated in this site since its launch in mid-2010. Apparently, with more customers booking reservations through our service, they felt they could no longer support our consumer-friendly model of automatically finding the best discount codes and re-booking when rates drop.
    AutoSlash will not waver in our objective to help people get a great deal on their rentals. We have exciting product plans on the horizon to make our site even more useful to you, and we look forward to sharing details with you when the time comes. If you’d like to stay up-to-date on new developments, please enter your email address below.

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  • sue

    I’m having a really hard time getting a good rate on an 18 day minivan rental. Any ideas?

  • swansonchoo

    What is the average percentage that a booked car rental will drop? 10%? 40%? Also, if I book a car through AutoSlash, is the fee refundable or am I locked in?

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