MillionMilesSecrets posted an interesting information about finding cheap car rental rates using two popular rewards malls.
The secret weapon to slashing hundreds of dollars in car rentals is to book car rentals with cash (or you can redeem points) through the Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You or Capital One travel portals.
I wasn't even aware of an option to book rental cars in any of those malls! If you have accessing to a Chase or Citi credit card this is an interesting option to always check.
Most of my rentals are with Hertz and Avis but I use the following comparison sites before making a booking:
- I do check consolidators like carrentals.com and rentalscars.com (a Priceline subsidiary) first.
- Then I'll check kayak.com and expedia.com second (both work great for domestic car rentals).
- From now on I'll check prices at the Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You or Capital One travel portals as well
Now all these sites will most likely take away the option to earn rewards points. While most of the time it's only 50 miles a day there are times and situations when you'd like the have the miles.
The other way to save is to use custom discount codes. These codes stem from car rental companies giving certain customer groups a certain discount. This can be as simple as 5-50% off or only certain car classes at certain locations being discounted.
First you have to find the discount codes – I have found these two discussion at Fatwallet very informative – http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/travel-discussion/790643/ and http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/travel-discussion/788985/.
I have only discount codes with Avis and Hertz – here's what you need to know. Try a number of discount codes and check individual prices. If you are having some computer skills build a script using iMacro or Sikuli to automate this process. Once you have found a good rate code make sure you are eligible for it. In general most locations are pretty relaxed about the use of the codes though use Google to find out more. However if you use a corporate rate which you are not entitled to you may open yourself to an insurance issue. Never assume you are covered by the car rental companies' insurance. Use your own insurance (from your own car or a credit card) to be safe.
Here's my experience about the best rates I received:
– short-term rental LAX (thrifty via kayak.com)
– one week Kauai (mid-size) on avis.com + discount code
– 4 days in Denver Chevy Tahoe on hertz.com + discount code
– Israel one week, small car, rentalcars.com
– 10 days Thailand rentalcars.com
– 2 days Jordan carrentals.com
– Germany, 21 days, SUV, hertz.com + discount code
– San Jose, one-way, one-day, mid-size avis.com + discount code
– one week Kona, HI, hertz.com + discount code
Here's a comparison between different options for an upcoming rental of mine (intermediate at TXL airport):
Ultimate Rewards quote
Avis quote without discount code
Avis quote using discount code