PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - How about this for sticker shock: rental cars in Hawaii are going for $500 dollars a day and they are sold out for the summer.
Just try to get a rental car in Alaska this summer, also sold out.
"I've been in the industry for 11 years and this is the first time that I've seen anything even remotely close to this," says Jonathan Weinberg, Founder, and CEO of AutoSlash.com.
Weinberg monitors and finds the best rates for rental car customers and says when the pandemic hit the rental car companies lost 90% of their business.
"They did what they had to do to survive, which is to basically sell off as many cars as they could as quickly as they could, and they basically sold off upwards of three-quarters of a million cars across the major rental brands," he explains.
But then, demand came roaring back starting with President's Day weekend.
"We saw 18 Out of the 20 airports completely sold out in Florida," he recalls.
As you can imagine with the lack of supply and the post-pandemic driven demand prices are responding.
"We're seeing rates of about $90 a day on average in all the major airports across the country if you can find a car," he says.
How does that compare to pre-pandemic rates?
"So we're seeing rates on average of two to three times higher than normal, but there are pockets of the country where rental car prices are 10 times what they normally are," Weinberg says.
That can make a major difference in your vacation budget planning. Weinberg says you need to rethink how you plan for a vacation.
"Typically a rental car is the last thing that you book, you really need to check rental car pricing before you even book your airfare now because it may turn out that that's the most expensive part of your trip," he says.
Weinberg says booking in advance, at least four weeks – six weeks is best, is the key.
"The good news is that if you are able to book earlier if you're able to plan ahead a little bit, you can get rates about half the last-minute rate," he advises.
Even a popular destination like Orlando is rental car challenged.
"It's not quite as bad as other areas, but that said, we're still seeing rates that are double what they normally are," Weinberg says. "And that translates to about $100 a day right now for memorial day weekend and on average, it's around $75 a day."
WATCH: There Are Still Deals To Be Had
Weinberg says the ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft are getting hit by those who can't get rental cars. As a result, long waiting times are the result.
Weinberg says in Las Vegas it can take as long as two hours to get a ride.
On the other hand, Weinberg's HotelSlash.com is seeing a different story as the hotel industry tries to get back to normal.
"The hotels are having difficulty trying to figure out what the right pricing is, which means that there are some opportunities because prices are kind of jumping all over the place," Weinberg says book early but..."If you keep rechecking a lot of times you'll find the price goes down so you really again want to book those pay later rates and allow that flexibility so you can cancel if a better deal comes along."
Back to rental cars, Weinberg says the situation is prompting some people to drive their own cars if they can.
But those not wanting to put the miles and expense on their personal car are renting locally and driving.
If you do that he says shop around.
Driving a few miles, even to a smaller town, can save you a bundle on your rental.
for more features.