Tuesday Travel Tip: The top 3 easiest ways to save on rental cars
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
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.
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Always check with your university or employer for a discount code
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.