How to reduce the cost of car rentals

Rental Cars for Less

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

Related Articles

Rental Cars for Less

Frugal Car Rental

10 Ways to Save on Rental Cars

Rental Cars for Less

My husband and I are about to retire and hope to do some traveling. We'll probably want to rent a car occasionally. Does anyone have experience on how to reduce the cost of renting a car?

Rent Older, But Serviceable Car

Two of the simplest ways to reduce the cost associated with a rental car are to use affiliation cards, such as AARP and AAA. Both offer discounts on rentals.

Consider renting a car from an agency like "Ugly Duckling." A slightly older but still serviceable car can be as cheap as $15-20 a day. Also inquire about weekly rentals if you need a car that long. Some companies have special deals for longer terms and for weekends.

If your credit card and your usual auto insurance cover a rental, then don't pay for the rental company's car insurance. They will simply ask you to sign a waiver.

Finally, simply ask the rental agency if they have a better deal. Just say, "Can you do any better for me?" Often, the answer is yes.

If the rental company provides a full tank of gasoline, return the car with a full tank, too. Otherwise, they will charge you for gas at a price that is often higher than the local outlets.

Find Rental Cars for Less at Dealerships

Many dealerships will let you rent cars from their fleet at a lower rate than you can get from many of the rental agencies. This usually works better if the dealership is in a higher income community. They may not require a deposit, give you a mileage allowance, or make you buy insurance that you don't need. For instance, renting a minivan for a week could cost upwards of $600. There is a Nissan dealership that gave us a rental for $300 for the week with no deposit, no credit card on file, and no mileage restrictions. We just had to have the gas tank close to where it was when we picked it up. It worked great!

Look into Car-Share Programs

Sometimes people will pay you to drive their car to or from a vacation spot like Florida, Arizona, etc. If you plan to go to that location anyway, look on Craigslist or other bulletin boards for drive-aways.

For local driving, look into car-share programs, such as They may allow you to use cars in different locations, depending on where they are set up.

Name Your Price

I always use's "name your own price" option. On my last trip, I paid $13/day for a midsize car from Avis. The price on the Avis website was a lot more than that. You won't know which company you will be renting from until you submit your offer and see which company accepts.

Look for Coupons

This may not be a creative answer, but it is easy to do. I recently purchased my local Entertainment Book. The book is filled with coupons, including a whole section on travel. Within the travel section, there are tons of coupons for all the different rental companies, hotels, and even "Park & Rides" at the airport. The book is valid for the year, and you can buy them online for places you plan to visit. I recommend waiting for a sale to purchase the book because they go down in price as the year goes on.

Take the Next Step:

Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.

True or False

Prices keep rising while my income remains stagnant and I worry I am heading for debt trouble. Tell us: Yes, I think I am heading for debt trouble and could use some help! or No, I am not in debt trouble but I am always looking for new ways to help keep my budget on track!

Stay Connected with TDS

Little Luxuries

to any newsletter and get a copy
of our ebook
Little Luxuries:
130 Ways to Live Better...For Less
for FREE!

The Dollar Stretcher
Dollar Stretcher Parents
Dollar Stretcher Tips
The Computer Lady

Your Email:

View the TDS Privacy Policy.

Get Out of Debt