How to save money on car rentals with AutoSlash

Feb 17, 2020

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with current information. It was originally published on April 30, 2018.

There are often great deals to be found on rental cars, but the lowest rates can often be difficult to find. Plus, although there are many discounts available with various companies, going through all of the discounts you might be entitled to can be overwhelming. This is where AutoSlash comes in.

AutoSlash is a website that provides three main services, all for free:

AutoSlash differentiates itself from other car rental websites by considering coupons and discount codes for all the major rental companies as well as membership discounts. Today, we’ll cover exactly how to utilize AutoSlash to save money on your next car rental.

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Available discounts

AutoSlash considers coupons and discount codes for all the major rental companies as well as potential membership and credit card discounts. Many of the coupons are listed on AutoSlash’s coupon page — which I discuss below — but AutoSlash considers other discounts including those related to having particular memberships, belonging to particular programs and holding particular types of credit cards.

When users request a new quote or track a current reservation through AutoSlash, they select which memberships they have and which credit cards they carry. Although car rental companies rarely ask for proof of these memberships and credit cards, they can and do — so only select memberships you actually have and credit cards you actually carry. The memberships you select will be auto-filled next time you search, assuming you don’t clear your browser data.

The memberships, programs and credit cards covered by AutoSlash.

Some credit cards — such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card — provide primary car rental insurance, so it’s understandable that you might hesitate to tell AutoSlash that you carry an American Express card unless you’ve enrolled that card in Amex’s Premium Car Rental Protection program. However, AutoSlash says that to use a rate related to a particular credit card, the renter only needs to show the credit card — there’s no requirement to pay with that credit card. Likewise, renters can choose to credit their rental to any program regardless of whether they’re using a rate related to a particular frequent flyer or renter program.

One concerning aspect

Renters usually won’t know which discounts AutoSlash used. Renters should only select memberships they have and the credit cards they carry, but this isn’t foolproof. My husband JT and I have used AutoSlash for rentals dozens of times over the last two years, and have only had one situation where the car rental counter refused to honor the rate we reserved using AutoSlash. In this case, we’d reserved a $338 one-week rental for a trip to Seattle while in Australia, and Dollar refused to honor the rate without seeing Australian identification (since apparently, AutoSlash used an Australian resident rate).

The reservation was through Priceline, as are many of AutoSlash’s reservations. The Priceline representative I spoke with from the Seattle car rental center wasn’t helpful and only offered to make a new reservation at a much higher rate. In reaching out after the fact to AutoSlash via email, an AutoSlash representative said our experience was uncommon and offered to reimburse the difference between the rate we reserved and the rate we eventually paid.

The AutoSlash representative knew we worked for The Points Guy from past interactions though, so it’s difficult to say whether other travelers would have been given the same treatment. This experience hasn’t stopped us from using AutoSlash for subsequent rentals, but it has made us wary. We tend to also check other options now, and will book direct with the rental car company when prices are similar.

Related reading: How to save on rental cars

How to get a new quote

If you’re looking to rent a car, AutoSlash is a good place to start. Go to AutoSlash and fill out the form to get a quote for a car rental. The first time I used AutoSlash, it took me less than two minutes to submit my request for a quote.

The first step is to choose whether to pick up your rental at an airport or near an address and input the airport or address. The next page asks whether you’d like to return the car at the same location.

If you don’t want to return the car at the same location, input the return airport or address.

Next input the pick-up and drop-off dates and times.

Then select the vehicle type needed from a drop-down list. Note that you can select “Least expensive option” if you want to include all vehicle types in one search and simply get results for the cheapest rental.

For international markets, AutoSlash also includes a drop-down for choosing the transmission type: automatic or no preference.

Next, you need to check the box next to any memberships that you currently have, loyalty programs you belong to and credit cards that you carry.

Finally, AutoSlash asks for your name and email so that it can send you a quote.

After submitting the form, you can edit any information that you might’ve entered incorrectly. The quote isn’t available immediately due to the depth of AutoSlash’s search, but you’ll usually receive a quote in less than 15 minutes.

In all of my tests, I received a quote by email in well under 15 minutes.

Clicking on the link in the email takes the user to an online quote with a list of options.

In my tests, the options linked to pay later with Priceline, pay later with AutoSlash or pay now with AutoSlash. For the pay later options, you won’t need to enter a credit card and you can cancel at any time. However, for the pay now options, your credit card will be charged, though you can generally cancel until 48 hours before scheduled pick-up.

You’ll need to book quickly after getting the emailed quote if you want the price to be accurate. Rental rates change frequently, so although old quotes will still link to a valid search, they may not show the lowest prices from your initial email. If you wait too long to act, it’s better to generate a new quote.

Related reading: Credit cards that offer elite status for car rentals

Track a current reservation

After you’ve made a reservation with free cancellation — on your own or after getting a quote from AutoSlash and booking one of the suggested options — go to AutoSlash and fill out the form to track a rental for price drops. If you have your current reservation in front of you, know which memberships you have and know which credit cards you carry, filling out the form should take less than a minute.

The form for tracking price drops requires information about the booking, including your name, the rental company, your confirmation number, the pick-up date and the price reserved as well as information about which memberships you hold and which credit cards you carry.

I received an AutoSlash tracking confirmation email immediately after submitting the form.

When/if you receive an email saying AutoSlash had found a lower rate, the booking process is similar to what is described above for a new quote.

If you book a lower-priced option, make sure to (1) cancel the higher-priced reservation, (2) cancel your current tracker and (3) go to AutoSlash and fill out the form to track your new booking for price drops. Until you cancel your current tracker, AutoSlash will continue to send quotes when lower prices are found.

Longtime users of AutoSlash know that AutoSlash used to track and automatically rebook users when lower prices were found. Due to pushback from rental car companies, AutoSlash had to alter the process. So, users must make an original booking, set up an AutoSlash tracker and then rebook and retrack whenever lower rentals are found.

Related reading: The Critical Points: Here’s how to avoid letting rental car companies take advantage of you

There’s really no downside to using the tracking functionality. If your originally-booked reservation winds up being the cheapest, then you can rest easy knowing that you got a great deal. If AutoSlash finds you a lower rate, the few minutes of your time will be well worth it — just like TPG Editor Nick Ewen experienced on a trip to Albuquerque (ABQ) last spring, where the tracking functionality saved him over 45% from his original rental.

Search coupons

If you need or prefer to book directly with car rental companies, AutoSlash may still be useful for you due to the car rental coupons page. These coupons are specific to particular car rental companies and can be applied when booking directly.

You can click on a specific company on the sidebar to only see the coupons related to that particular car rental company.

Related reading: Paying $500 in rental car damage — reader mistake story

How did AutoSlash perform?

AutoSlash is superior for tracking prices on current rental car reservations, as it’s much better than the alternative: doing it manually. However, to determine the quality of AutoSlash’s initial quotes, I did some quick experiments.

EXCLUSIVE: TPG sits down with the CEO of AutoSlash

I looked for automatic transmission rental cars with free cancellation in a few cities on two different dates. I considered a pick-up date one week away (Feb. 25, 2020) and two months away (April 18, 2020) for one-week, round-trip rentals in Los Angles (LAX), Bangor (BGR), Rome (FCO) and Johannesburg (JNB) as well as a one-week, one-way rental from LAX to Las Vegas (LAS). I selected that I was eligible for all discounts except for the warehouse club discounts.

For each city and rental dates, I compared AutoSlash’s quotes to a few competitors that I might use: the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal and booking directly with Hertz using the CDP associated with The Platinum Card® from American Express. Here are the results.

Rental details AutoSlash Chase travel portal Hertz (Amex Platinum CDP)
LAX, in a week $180 (NextCar, pay later with AutoSlash) $253 (Budget) $263
LAX, in two months $252 (Fox, pay later with AutoSlash) $427 (Budget) $471
BGR, in a week $202 (Hertz, pay later with Priceline) $474 (Hertz) $246
BGR, in two months $204 (Avis, pay later with Priceline) $232 (Budget) $244
FCO, in a week $124 (Budget, pay later with Priceline) None available $195
FCO, in two months $174 (Budget, pay later with Priceline) $245 (Hertz) $247
JNB, in a week $129 (Avis, pay later with Priceline) None available $164
JNB, in two months $116 (Avis, pay later with Priceline) None available $200
LAX to LAS, in a week $217 (Fox, pay later with AutoSlash) $362 (Hertz) $321
LAX to LAS, in two months $258 (Fox, pay later with AutoSlash) $721 (Thrifty) $773

AutoSlash found the lowest car rentals for all of my tests. However, note that some of the low-cost rentals found by AutoSlash are through lower-rated companies such as Fox and NextCar, which generally feature off-airport locations, longer lines and more upsells. In addition, if you’re willing to commit to a nonrefundable reservation, Hertz sometimes offers competitive prices using the Amex Platinum CDP.

In the end, there are many ways to search for rental cars, and the best method will depend on your memberships and travel style. However, you should consider adding AutoSlash to your search process if you don’t already use the site.

Related reading: My rental car coverage didn’t apply — reader mistake story

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Featured photo by @esspeshal via Twenty20.

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