You’ll find major international car rental agencies all over the world — think Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, Sixt and Thrifty. But depending on where you’re traveling, locally owned companies (like us) could offer lower rates; before booking, read reviews to be sure their companies are up to the standards of the majors.
Always shop around. Check the major booking engines and aggregator sites (such as Expedia, Priceline and Kayak) to get an idea of what rates are available, but you should also visit the car rental companies’ websites as well — they often offer exclusive discounts. Call the local office, speak to the agent in person and submit all your questions. Transparency is key!
To lower your rate, ask about discounts for any major national organizations, frequent flier programs and credit card programs to which you may belong. They’ll frequently offer deals on car rentals. (Those offered through AAA can be very good as well as Costco & AARP.) If you’re employed by a company that frequently rents cars, they may have a negotiated rate. Make sure to check.
Before you book online, do an Internet search for coupon or promotion codes to put into the booking engine of your car rental company’s site. Just type the name of the company followed by “coupon code” into the search field and you’ll often find special promotion codes that could save you anywhere from 5 to 20 percent off the cost of your rental.
If you haven’t already, consider joining your car rental company’s loyalty program when you book. These vary by company, but most of them are free and entitle you to certain privileges when picking up your vehicle; your information will be on file ahead of time, allowing you to jump into the car and go rather than standing in a long line or filling out paperwork. You could also be eligible for special discounts or free upgrades.