Tuesday Travel Tip: The top 3 easiest ways to save on rental cars

Jul 14, 2020

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Renting a car can be a wildly confusing process. There are a ton of different rental companies out there, and each has its own set of partnerships, add-ons and other quirks that can make it hard to compare prices. Plus, there are a ton of different rental car booking sites out there too, each of which partner with different rental car companies.

Thankfully, though, it’s easier than you might think to save money on your rental cars. I’ve covered this topic extensively in the past, but want this Tuesday Travel Tips article to show you the easiest ways to save money on a rental car. After reading this, make sure to check out my complete guide to saving on rentals too — there’s more useful info there.

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In This Post

Always check with your university or employer for a discount code

DePaul University rental car discount page
(Image courtesy of DePaul University)

Many universities, alumni associations and companies have corporate codes that affiliated persons can use to get preferred rates on rental cars. While some of these discounts may be reserved for official use, many of them — including the corporate codes issued by my university’s alumni association — can be used for leisure rentals too.

These can offer pretty excellent savings on your rentals too. My university has deals with Avis, Enterprise, Hertz and National, and each of these partnerships offer discounts and other perks. For example, the Enterprise code gives a preferred rate, waives the under-25 fee and even adds a damage waiver free of charge. In some cases, these perks give me over $100 per day in value.

Make sure to check with your employer and university for a rental car discount code of your own. If you have access to multiple codes with different rental car companies, it’s in your best interest to cross-compare pricing with all of your available codes.

Don’t have a code available to you? Consider signing up for AAA. The automobile club has partnerships with Avis, Hertz and other rental car companies, offering preferred rates and other benefits. My AAA code has saved me hundreds of dollars over the years at Hertz.

Related: Your points, miles and loyalty guide to Hertz car rentals

find other discounts with AutoSlash

AutoSlash has long been one of TPG’s favorite rental car booking services. In short, the website will help you find the best deal on a rental car by searching all of the major car rental websites for you. All you have to do is input your dates, destination and select all of your applicable discounts from credit cards, airline programs and automobile clubs.

Sample AutoSlash Submittal
(Image courtesy of AutoSlash)

After you submit your request, AutoSlash will run searches for you for free and email you a list of quotes from various rental car companies that include your applicable discounts. If you see something you like, you can book your car by clicking through the link on the AutoSlash website.

AutoSlash also has a price-tracking tool that monitors the cost of a rental you’ve already booked. If the service sees a better deal pop up, it will alert you so that you can cancel your existing reservation and rebook it at a cheaper rate. This is a super valuable service, and we highly recommend you use it to save money on your next rental.

This can save you a ton of time when compared to searching through each rental car company (and Online Travel Agency) on your own time. That said, there is a downside to the service: it can’t search corporate or alumni codes, so you’ll need to look for those separately.

Related: TPG sits down with CEO of AutoSlash on Talking Points episode 14

Get a free damage waiver

Damage waivers are a form of insurance sold by most rental car companies. In short, they cover the full value of the car against damage, theft and other mishaps — think of it like comprehensive insurance on your own car, but without the deductible.

While this sounds great on paper, they can be pretty pricey at $10 to $20 per day depending on your rental company. Thankfully, though, a handful of credit cards actually include damage waivers with all rentals you charge to said card. Two of these cards include the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Whenever you pay for a rental car with these credit cards, your rental is insured from damage and loss up to $75,000. The process for actually claiming this coverage is simple too: just get an invoice for the damage incurred and open a claim with Chase. Once the claim is approved, you’ll be reimbursed for the charges.

Better yet, this coverage is primary, meaning that it kicks in before your personal car insurance does. This means that your rates won’t go up if you have a fender-bender in a rental, regardless of who was at fault for the damage.

That said, I always recommend paying for your car rental car with one of these credit cards. It will save you money on your rental car and keep you protected against damage incurred to the vehicle.

Related: The Critical Points: five steps to a perfect car rental

Bottom line

While there’s plenty of ways to save money on rental cars, these three are the easiest. Make sure to always shop around for the best deal with AutoSlash, and compare those quotes to the price you get with any applicable corporate or university codes. Then, use a credit card that includes a damage waiver to pay for the rental, and you’ll be protected all while knowing that you got an excellent deal. Drive safe!

Feature photo by alexfan32/Shutterstock

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