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It’s time for the great annual rental car migration! What’s that you say? The rental car migration is that magical time every fall when rental car companies practically give away car rentals if you take them in the “right” direction. In the fall, companies want to get cars to Florida from points north. Just like the “snow birds” head south for the winter, so does the demand for car rentals. Because of this, you can create an amazing road trip with half the number of airline miles and a quarter of the regular car rental price.

(Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
(Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

How To Find One-Way Car Rental Deals

When the rental car migration happens (once in the spring and again in the fall), I look for one-way car rental steals. Most months of the year, you pay a mint to pick up a car in one place and drop it off in another with hefty one-way drop fees. But in fall, car rental deals to Florida from the northern states hit rates as low as $7.99 per day. During April and May, the cars need to go in the reverse direction from Florida to points north.

The best part: During the car rental migration, companies price all sizes of vehicles from economy to full-size the same, which is awesome news when you need to rent a car for family travel. Even with taxes, you can get a full-size car for less than $70 per week. Every year the details differ a bit depending on inventory. This year the best deals are from Hertz. Hertz is offering these crazy one-way rental prices to Florida until December 9. Searching the first week of December, I see rates as low as $7.99 per day for up to a full size car.

Remember when you see the car rates, take into account airport fees and taxes. If I have a choice where to pick up the car, I’ll check more than one location. Fees vary widely, especially with airport rentals. Some airports charge a flat daily fee for rentals while others charge a percentage of the rental. In this case, the latter will save you a few bucks.

These inexpensive one-way car rentals can go from as short as one day to as long as 10 days. I’ve been known to keep the car around after we don’t “need” it, because at the rock-bottom rental price it can be cheaper to commute in the rental car than to add the miles to our own car.

I especially like this deal because you can combine it with your existing Hertz status and any hotel or airline promotions. On my one-way rental to Florida, I’m going to earn 2,000 United miles on top of my credit card points. For car rentals, I use the Chase Sapphire Reserve because of the generous primary car rental coverage other credit cards also offer similar benefits.

How To Use One-Way Car Rental Deals To Save

Coming from the DC area, I don’t want to do the round trip drive down south if I have less than 10 days; we simply lose too much time en route. However, I’m happy to pick up my super cheap car rental at home to drive one direction and fly back (using miles). This year Savannah, Georgia, is also accepting the inexpensive one-way rental returns (even though it wasn’t on the main list). Thanks to this budget-friendly car rental deal, over the weekend we’re driving down to Georgia to explore the historic city until Tuesday. Since it is a one-way rental, we will fly home to the DC area using 7,500 British Airways Avios points on American Airlines. The grand total cost for our weeklong full-size rental? $66.

Savannah, Georgia, USA at Forsyth Park Fountain. (Photo by SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images)
Savannah, Georgia, USA at Forsyth Park Fountain. (Photo by SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images)

Bottom Line

Jumping on the inexpensive one-way car rental deals along the East Coast in the fall and spring can save you big bucks and allow you to add in another family trip without spending too many precious miles and points. These one-way car rental deals can be especially lucrative if you’re able to stack them with other promotions from your favorite airline or car rental company. If you can’t take advantage of these one-way rental deals, you can still save on rental cars with these tips. Or, learn how to save money on car rentals with AutoSlash.

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