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10 Tips and Tricks to Save on Your Next Rental Car Skip to content

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10 Tips for Stretching Your Car Rental Dollars

  • Blue Toy Convertible Car, Calendar Page, Tips for Stretching Your Car Rental Dollars

    Reserve well in advance

    Don’t wait till the last minute. But once you’ve made your car rental reservation, it doesn’t hurt to keep checking for a better deal. You may find one, but if you use sites like or, you’re locking into a nonadjustable, nonrefundable reservation.

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  • Car Rental Lot, Cars Parking Lot, Tips for Stretching Your Car Rental Dollars

    Choose the right car

    If all you need is a compact, reserve one and save on fuel. If there’s no compact on the lot when you arrive, the clerk will probably offer you a discounted upgrade. You can say no. Most companies will upgrade you for free if they don’t have the car you reserved. 

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  • Rent a Car Keyboard Button, Compare Rates,  Tips for Stretching Your Car Rental Dollars

    Compare rates

    Shop sites like and, as well as smaller companies such as Payless and Advantage. will do some of the work for you — taking your information, searching the Internet for the best deals and rebooking you automatically at lower rates.

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  • Finger Push Buy Now Button, Tips for Stretching Your Car Rental Dollars

    Consider paying up front

    Many car rental companies offer good discounts if you pay when you reserve. Just be sure you’ve shopped around a little and your plans are firm, because with this option you can’t cancel without paying a penalty. And be certain you’re not making a nonrefundable reservation.

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  • Online Coupon Laptop Computer,  Tips for Stretching Your Car Rental Dollars

    Search out online discounts and coupons

    Look on sites such as and Or Google the name of the rental company with the words “coupon code” typed in after it. Be creative. You can often use a coupon code and a discount code together.

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  • AARP Member Card, Tips for Stretching Your Car Rental Dollars

    Use your memberships for discounts

    Many organizations (AAA, AARP, Costco) offer car rental discounts. Also, rental companies have clubs (free to join) with loyalty programs that get you lots of perks, including the convenience of having your car waiting for you with the keys in it — no standing in line at a counter. Consider joining more than one club.

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  • A Car Rental Direction Sign, Clouds, Tips for Stretching Your Car Rental Dollars

    Avoid picking up at the airport

    You can save a lot of money on the car you want if you take a cab or even public transportation to a site outside the airport. Many rental companies also offer shuttles from the airport.

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  • Hands Red Fuel Nozzle, White Car, Tips for Stretching Your Car Rental Dollars

    Be smart about fuel options

    You’re safest agreeing to fill the gas tank yourself right before you return the car. Consider prepaying for a full tank if you anticipate getting back low on gas. Whatever you do, don’t agree to let the rental company fill the tank after you return the car; with service charges, you could end up spending close to $9 a gallon.

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  • Hands Signing Paper Clipboard, Tips for Stretching Your Car Rental Dollars

    Don’t pay for extras

    Chances are you can forgo purchasing car insurance from the rental agency; be familiar with your policy and also with what coverage your credit cards may offer. If you have a smartphone, you can do without GPS. And don’t pay for satellite radio unless you can’t live without it. Instead, load up your smartphone with your own music and podcasts, then plug the phone into the car’s auxiliary jack. 

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  • Airplane Taking Off, Car on Road by Fence, Tips for Stretching Your Car Rental Dollars

    Look into package deals

    If you’re flying or staying in a hotel, you can often save money by booking your car rental as part of a package.

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  • Tips for Stretching Your Car Rental Dollars, Reserve At The Right Time

    Also of Interest

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