A burning question when trying to get a deal on a rental car is: when is the best time to rent a car? Different rental companies have varying policies that keep changing without warning. But generally, booking a rental car at the earliest after confirming where you are going is the best.
At this time, car rental prices have decreased. So, by booking early, you can avail yourself of promotional offers and discounts.
But don’t worry if you haven’t been able to book a car rental in advance. According to some surveys, rental car prices can decrease as little as three days before your reservation’s start date. This is true of companies like Enterprise, Hertz, Thrifty, Avis, Alamo, and Budget.
Keep reading as we tell you more about the ideal car rental time.
When Is the Best Time to Rent a Car?
There is no single answer to this question. You can nab a great deal on your car rental by booking 6 to 12 months in advance. This option is ideal if you are going somewhere with a large family or several friends and need a large van or a minibus.
Since car rental prices keep changing according to demand, car rental companies usually price their cars competitively. When the demand is more, they increase prices. Only the base price changes while other aspects of the rental vehicle, like children’s seats and young driver fees, remain the same. So, the best strategy would be to start comparing prices way ahead to get the best deal.
That being said, there are exceptions to this assumption. Sometimes, booking a car rental at the last minute is inexpensive. Do you know that at car rentals like Enterprise and Dollar, it is far more expensive to book a vehicle three months in advance? Similar is the case with Thrifty and Alamo. This has been a recent trend with the revival of travel after 2020. The rising demand for travel, combined with the unavailability of rental cars, has caused much price fluctuation.
Also, car rentals work based on consumer data and ensure that the supply of cars in a single place isn’t less. This can happen when travelers reserve one-way rentals. So, companies offer great deals for such rentals in the opposite direction. An inexpensive last-minute rental can reflect the company’s request that drivers get their cars back to the required locations.
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Reasons to Book Rental Vehicles in Advance
Waiting until the last minute to book a rental car does not always turn out to be the best decision. Here’s why it’s worth booking cars in advance.
1. Increases the chances of securing the desired vehicle
In popular places like Hawaii, booking a car at the last minute can incur additional charges worth 1000 dollars. So you certainly don’t want to be in this scenario. That’s why it is wise to book a car in advance. You will ensure that you get a car according to your requirements at a rate that’s not high.
2. Provision to rebook later at discounted rates
Booking a car in advance also gives another advantage. You can reserve it as soon as you find the best one and lock in your wait. However, do not pay the money yet. Keep checking the rental price as your trip nears. If you find the car price dropping, cancel the earlier booking and rebook immediately.
3. More convenience
Booking a rental vehicle ahead of a trip consumes much time and effort. It isn’t possible to pay attention to other aspects of your travel arrangements if all your time is spent looking for transport. By booking and securing your car in advance, you can focus on other areas like the place of stay and itinerary.
4. Saves time
Renting in advance helps avoid lengthy paperwork and long lines at the counter. You can save significant time if you book in advance and use a loyalty program. It is particularly useful for those having a comprehensive travel schedule.
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Book the Cheapest Car Rental – An Actionable Guideline
Conflicting views and facts about the best time to rent a car can leave you overwhelmed. It is thus wise to use a golden rule for getting the cheapest rental. Book a vehicle at an off-peak time around one to three months ahead, and this vehicle should be in the common category. This includes full-sized sedans and compacts. It proves cost-efficient in most cases.
Tips to Ensure You Get the Best Car Rental Prices
Here are some effective tips to ensure that you get car rental service at an ideal price.
- Book the vehicle straight from the car rental location you are heading to. Also, call the location and check if there are any promotions or discounts being offered to book directly with them.
- Keep exploring rental car rates after the confirmation of your trip schedule. Prices will change, and you will find new deals the closer you are to your travel date.
- Assess the terms and services of different companies. Factors like fuel policies, mileage limits, insurance, and additional fee should all be a part of it. Knowing them will prevent you from incurring unexpected costs.
- If you want a high-end sports car as your rental vehicle, book early. Otherwise, you won’t find these non-typical vehicles available.
- If you don’t need to rush anywhere, it would be cheaper to rent during Christmas or Easter. Book around six weeks before Easter and a year before Thanksgiving.
- Avoid car rental franchises within the airport if you are traveling into a major city. Airport car rental locations usually charge an additional fee and greater rates than those nearby. So, take a taxi to a nearby car rental provider and choose your vehicle.
It is ideal not to wait until the very last moment to book a rental car. Also, don’t book it very far in advance, as you may miss exciting deals and discounts. Use the tips in this article to assess the best time to rent a vehicle according to your requirement.