How To Save Money On A Rental Car

Finding a deal on rental cars can be extremely difficult. In this day and age of ride sharing services, I avoid rental cars under all circumstances. However, my latest experience may change all of that. 

BACKGROUND

I have rented two cars in my life and they were terrible experiences!

I can’t recall all of the details but, both, of the experiences left bad impressions of the rental car industry. At that time (the early 2000’s), I wasn’t familiar with how the car rental industry functioned but I knew that renting cars was no longer reasonable. Consequentially, a lot of time has passed and I have not rented another since that time. 

FAST FORWARD (New Years 2019)

For the New Year, my family (and extended family) decided to spend a few days together in Charlotte, North Carolina. We had two options:

  1. Everyone could buy an expensive, 45 minute flight from Atlanta to Charlotte
  2. We could rent a minivan, everyone would have their own space, and drive 4 hours to Charlotte

By the title of the article, I assume you were able to determine which decision I made for the holidays.

Considering my past rental car experiences, I was not eager to begin this process. However, given the alternative of buying multiple airline tickets, I began researching how to save money on rental cars.

There are a plethora of companies offering various discounts for rental cars (including the rental car companies themselves) and it can easily become overwhelming. This is where the magic of the internet comes in. I came across a website called Autoslash.

According to their website, Autoslash is a website that provides two free services:
 1. Quotes for car rentals
2. Tracking to find cheaper car rentals

Immediately, I thought all of my problems were solved. If you give me a quote then I will know my final price. The icing on the cake is Autoslash tracking my rental and finding a cheaper price.

HOW IT WORKS

I wasn’t excited to rent a minivan because…well, I’m “cool.” But the reality is that I have a newborn, a dog, and in-laws that need to arrive in Charlotte and those circumstances dictate a minivan.

This is also where it gets good and I get comfortable with my dad swag!

Autoslash differentiates itself from the competition by considering your personal life and applying discounts based on it. 

Are you a AA member? Great, there may be a discount for that. Do you have a Visa / Mastercard / Discover / American Express credit card? Phenomenal! There may be a discount for that. Do you have a frequent flyer account with ANY airline in the USA? Sweet! There may be a discount for that. 

Note: Frequent flyer accounts are free to join. Go ahead and sign up for one (or all of them).

Autoslash considers coupons and discount codes from the rental car companies, the credit cards you own, and the organizations where you are a member.

Let’s walk through an example:

To obtain a quote, simply, enter the nearest airport or address closest to you on the website home-screen. It will look like this:

The website will then direct you to the next screen that asks if you would like to return the vehicle to a different location than where you picked it up (see below).

You will then be directed to a screen that requests the date and time of your rental (see below).

Next, you will be prompted to select the type of vehicle that you want to rent (see below). I’m my case, I couldn’t find “cool dad, swagger wagon for the whole family” so instead, I just selected “minivan seats 7.” 😉

The next screen is a bit more involved but, I promise, it doesn’t take long at all (see below). It requests all the memberships that we spoke about above. I qualified for nearly all of them. It is worth noting that although car rental companies rarely ask for proof of these memberships, it is possible that they will and it would be unfortunate to start a vacation being called out. I recommend that you only select the memberships you actually have and credit cards you actually carry.

It is also worth noting that in order to use a rate related to a particular credit card, the renter only needs to show the credit card and does NOT need to pay with that, specific, credit card.

And finally, the website asks for your contact information (see below).

I used Autoslash and it took me less than two minutes to submit a request for a quote. I expected it would take, at least, a day to receive the quote. However, after submitting multiple requests with various dates and times, I received an email in about 10 minutes with a link to all the quotes. 

Once I selected a quote, I was immediately taken to Priceline. I felt very comfortable selecting a car because I had used Priceline before for other travel reservations. I am always skeptical when I am seeing a price on a third party website that I’ve never heard of before or is located in some foreign country.

However, I do offer some caveats:
1) Pay attention when selecting an option. There are a lot of options and some don’t include free cancellation. If you book a rental with no cancellation, it defeats the purpose of tracking. Or said another way…if you make a reservation with free cancellation, you can track the reservation and when Autoslash finds a lower price, you can cancel the original reservation and book the new car.
2) Book quickly after receiving the email. Rental car prices change frequently so the longer you wait, the more likely the price quoted will change.

WHERE IT GETS TRICKY

After you’ve made a reservation WITH FREE CANCELLATION, you will then receive an email with a confirmation number. Be sure to return to the original home screen (seen below), select ”track a rental” and enter the rental car company and confirmation number. Autoslash does not track your reservation automatically.

…And your job is done! Sit back and wait for the tracker to, hopefully, find lower prices.

FINAL STAMP

I had a great experience searching for rentals through Autoslash. I had, initially, received an email quote of $418 for a swagger wagon, week long rental. I thought that was a bit expensive but $418 was cheaper than the local car rental companies in comparison. However, over the course of a week, the lowest price point was continually lowered. First, Hertz gave me the best price. Then, I received another quote from the price tracker and Enterprise was the lowest price. Then, again, Hertz countered with an even lower price. In the end, with taxes and fees included, I paid $185 for a 7-day rental from Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

How have your experiences been with rental cars? Have you ever used Autoslash?