How I Saved Big on My Roadtrip Car Rental

    April 22, 2016
    Car Rental

    It’s that time of year when everyone is starting to talk about their summer plans. I’m house poor, so aside from a camping trip, we don’t have too much on the horizon – except our upcoming trip to Disney, but that was paid for before we moved.

    But this post isn’t about me talking about my lack of vacation plans – and when you work in travel public relations, having a lack of travel plans is the absolute worst. This post is about my trick for saving on car rentals.

    So to back up – I read a post the other day from PureWow about how to save on car rentals and I immediately realized the story of one of the best deals I’ve ever gotten, I didn’t share with you. And since my “hack” wasn’t one of the tips, I figured I’d share, especially if you are lucky and are heading somewhere fun this summer.

    Two years ago, my husband and I went on a road trip from San Diego to San Francisco. We were looking to rent a car that would:

    1. Have unlimited miles, since we were driving up Route 1 over five days
    2. Not overcharge us for doing a one way rental
    3. Was less than $500.

    $189.08. That’s how much we ended up paying for a Sunday to Sunday rental. Why? We used Costco Travel. I had been a Costco member for 8 months, and had never thought to look at Costco for anything travel related. But as I was looking for car rentals for the trip, I realized it was slowly becoming more expensive than I anticipated ($500 for 4 days in some cases!) and I was trying to do crazy things to get a good rate – e.g. drop in downtown San Francisco (with the caveat I needed to arrive before a certain time – talk about stress) or try to drop the car earlier than needed at the airport to save (but was it really a savings if we had to then pay to go into SF?). I looked at Costco, and realized this was an unbelievable option. I was able to get ridiculous savings, while booking through a name I knew – Avis.

    I have no clue what I got such a good rate especially on a school spring break week (#marriedateacherproblems), but the trick may have been picking up the car at a non-airport location. We were staying with my cousin in San Diego, who picked us up from the airport and brought us to the car rental place before we made our way north. If you are looking to save on renting a car though, I recommend pricing out this option, as the Uber to your car pick up spot may be slightly less expensive.

    We also saved by asking for two drivers on the rental at the counter. According to the fine folks at Town and Country Resort where we rented our car, if you have the same address, you don’t have to pay an additional fee for a second driver. We had seen on some rental forms that two drivers drove the cost up. We asked at the counter, so if you are thinking of adding a second driver, see in-person if there are any ways to save.

    If you are planning a trip this summer and belong to any wholesale club, I highly recommend looking into the travel options. It saved us a ton of money – and if you aren’t a Costco member yet, could be worth having someone who is price it out for you to see how much you could possibly save. And if you still don’t know where to travel to, I suggest Route 1!

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