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You booked your flight, you’ve got your hotel, and now it’s time to reserve your car. Whether you plan on motoring along the beach, through winding hills or an urban landscape, there are plenty of ways to get great car rental deals. Susan Shields, Director, Car Rental Supplier Services at Orbitz Worldwide, tells you how.

1. Look for mobile-only discounts.

“Try searching for your car on a mobile device, asmany car companies now offer discounted mobile-only rates. These deals pop up when car companies find themselves with too many cars on the lot, so they’re sometimes only available at the last-minute. Orbitz, too, offers an app-only discount: Just look for the Mobile Steal icon when you book your rental.”

2. Reserve the smallest car you’re comfortable driving.

“Typically, the smaller cars are booked most frequently, so rental agencies often run out and have to upgrade you to the next size—at no additional cost. They may first ask you if you would like to upgrade for $X more per day, but in these situations you’ll be given the larger car either way. And if they do have the smaller car that you confirmed and you need something bigger, you can almost always pay extra to upgrade. Of course, you may also get an upgrade if you’re a member of the agency’s loyalty program; upgrades are a perk they may offer their favorite renters, and you can usually bypass the counter, too!”

3. Weekend rates can be a steal, if you know when to go.

“A weekend rate can often be very inexpensive but you have to know the right times to confirm your car rental pick-up and drop-off. The lower rates typically can be found after noon on Thursday, and you must return the car by Monday evening. A recent search for Labor Day weekend, arriving in Miami Thursday and departing Monday, turned up a compact car for just $8 per day! Rates can vary greatly depending on your destination, duration and the dates of travel, so shop and compare to find the best deals.”

4. Consider all rental car companies.

“Look beyond the big, national chains and check out rates with the smaller, independent companies that may have lower operating costs. Many of the smaller companies have off-airport locations that allow them to save on overhead, which means you could save an average of 25 percent or more, according to US News and other sources.”

5. Don’t pay for more insurance coverage than you need.

“Check with your personal car insurance company as well as your credit card company, to see what insurance coverage you already have. If you’re already covered by your policy, you can avoid added charges at the rental desk for things like collision, liability and theft of personal belongings. Those extras can add up to an additional $10-30 per day, depending on the vehicle. If you’re renting a car outside the U.S. you’ll really need to do your research: Many countries have differing, mandatory insurance requirements that can be a costly addition and are not covered by your own policy.”

6. Understand the car rental contract.

“Sometimes contracts might include unexpected charges for things like underage driver fees, early return fees or extra fees to use the toll pass in the car. While understanding these policies can be daunting and in some cases require a law degree, familiarizing yourself with them can help you avoid surprises when your receipt is printed. Also, remember to do a thorough inspection of the car before you leave the lot and document any existing damage with the agent to avoid being held responsible for those dings later.”

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Note: Orbitz compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Susan Shields

Susan Shields

Susan is Director, Car Supplier Services, at Orbitz Worldwide. When she’s not negotiating the best car deals for Orbitz customers, you’ll find her practicing her Flamenco for her upcoming trip to Spain.
Susan Shields

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