The easiest place to find a rental car is at an airport terminal counter. But, accordingly, that's also one of the most expensive. To save on your next rental, be prepared to scout around and travel a bit farther. Here are the best places to check as you select your rental agency:
Price comparison sites
Travel sites like Expedia and Orbitz offer easy comparisons of rental car rates from leading companies. Some auto-specific competitors, notably rentalcars.com, do the same. Another competitor is Hotwire, which adds the twist that it doesn't name the company that has the lowest price (though it is generally one of the big-name rental agencies anyway).
In addition to comparing prices across the different rental companies, compare across locations. If at all possible, avoid the airport location, especially if you'll be in the rental car for a while – you're charged a hefty premium every day for that convenience.
It seems like a shot in the dark compared to a slick site like Expedia, and you'll often find your results clogged with unhelpful or misleading ads, but typing "cheap rental cars in [location]" into a search engine sometimes calls up a small local rental agency you would never have otherwise heard of. Be sure to check for online reviews, though, to make sure it's reputable.
Rental agencies' sites
Once you've narrowed your search to a couple of car rental companies, check the websites of the companies themselves rather than just third-party sites. You'll sometimes find coupon codes or otherwise superior prices compared to what's listed on Orbitz or rentalcars.com.
And whatever car rental you choose, be sure to check the fees – rental car companies are often particularly brazen about bumping up the rate right before you pay.
Brady Holt, a Washington D.C. newspaper reporter, has had a lifelong interest in cars in the automotive world, and he'll share his thoughts at every available opportunity. Brady has written for Examiner.com since 2008, publishing hundreds of car reviews, automotive news pieces and other features. His work can be found on Examiner.com.
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