The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a huge fluctuation in car rental prices, with prices going up significantly. It's reasonable to expect this reduction in the supply of rental cars to last at least a year or two. With airline ticket prices and car rental prices being so high, it's becoming more cost-effective for some summer vacation travelers to drive to their destinations in their own cars, despite the high gas prices. Fortunately, there are some ways to save money on car rentals.
Memberships such as the AAA, AARP and alumni associations often include negotiated car rental discounts as a benefit. If you're renting a car, it's worth checking if you're eligible for any of these discounts. Additionally, if you're booking a rental car and the company doesn't charge a cancellation fee (most don't), then you can cancel and rebook the same rental for a lower price. Car-sharing companies are another great alternative to traditional car rental companies.
These companies work like an AirBnB for renting cars; owners (“hosts”) advertise their rental cars and drivers book them through the car-sharing company's website or mobile application. Popular vacation rental models, such as the Jeep Wrangler, are now costing hundreds of dollars a day, even if travelers book them weeks in advance. As travel begins to pick up despite the reach of COVID, more people may have to find similar alternative rental methods until at least next year. Ridesharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, are also an option for those looking for alternatives to renting cars.
If renting trucks daily at a home improvement store represents substantial savings compared to car rental rates, that could also be a viable option. NerdWallet conducted an analysis of 360 rental car prices (including taxes and fees) to better understand rental car price trends. The analysis found that there could be a seasonal price increase during the holiday season, and customers can expect rental cars to remain in service longer than they used to. Overall, it's difficult to predict whether or not car rental prices will go down in the near future.
However, by taking advantage of memberships and discounts, as well as exploring alternative rental methods such as car-sharing companies and ridesharing services, travelers can still save money on their car rentals.