By Aimee Heckel
Whether you’re planning a road trip or you need a ride from the airport to your hotel, chances are, many of us travelers will rent a car. In fact, cars are the primary means of transportation for leisure visitors (76 percent), according to the U.S. Travel Association.
Saving money on a rental car can play a key role in lowering the cost of your vacation. Here are several ways to save money on renting a car this summer, and some deals too good to pass up.
1. Shop around. Just like buying a car, rental rates can dramatically vary from company to company. Locally owned, independent car companies often have better deals than chains. Companies with “value-oriented” names, like Budget, Dollar and Advantage, tend to be cheaper than the others (Hertz, Avis, National), according to Dailyfinance.com.
Extra savings: Rent a premium car for $32.99 per day through Thrifty Car Rental, and purchase through ShopAtHome.com to get 4.5 percent Cash Back. Use this coupon to save 5 percent off time and mileage.
Use this coupon to save 10 percent off weekly (five or more days) on car rentals with Budget. Get your Budget car rental through ShopAtHome.com and save up to 5 percent more cash back. Use your MasterCard and save up to 20 percent more, plus get a third weekend day for free.
2. Don’t rent from the airport. Airport-based car rental facilities tend to be more expensive. And as an added bonus, many businesses located outside of the airport offer a courtesy shuttle to pick you up. Some hotels have reasonably priced rental cars, too.
3. Stay on top of the gas. Make sure your car is filled up when you leave and then bring it back with a full tank. Many rental companies charge more if they have to fill it up themselves.
4. Don’t get ripped off on insurance. Know what your insurance covers and don’t pay more for extra. Unless you’re traveling overseas, your regular car insurance is most likely sufficient.
5. Know the individual deals before buying a package. Many companies like Priceline and Orbitz offer car and hotel packages. Sometimes this can save you money, but other times, it can cost more than buying them separately. Do your homework and don’t assume a package is necessarily a deal.
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