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Whether you’re renting a car or taking a day trip from home, the numbers can add up really quick. Especially when you consider the daily cost of the car rental, paying for gas, and any extras you may need like the use of a GPS, baby seat, or exceeding your mileage.

While some destinations have great options for public transportation like buses or trains, others leave you with few options but to rent a car. And what are you to do when you’ve already spent so much on a trip and you don’t want to overwhelm your budget even more?

This guide will share the best tips for saving money when renting a car. There are a surprising amount of discounts out there if you know where to look, as well as tricks for saving when you book.

 Money-Saving Tips for Renting a Car

Review Your Rates

There are a lot of different options for finding the best rental cars, but it’s easy to miss the most obvious discount if you don’t know where to look.

While you can go through a third party to secure a rental car, sometimes the best discounts are on the actual car company website.

It’s definitely advisable to compare the rates on third party sites, but take a couple of extra minutes to check with your preferred company directly.

When you book directly through the car rental agency, you’re more likely to find discounts and last-minute savings. For the best money-saving results, check multiple sights before you secure a reservation.

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Check for Discounts

Did you know you’re probably already eligible for car rental discounts? If you’re a AAA member or a member of the military you might qualify for a discount through the rental agency.

Even if you don’t have a special membership or affiliation, you probably still qualify for some form of discount. Travel credit cards frequently offer discounts or fee waivers for car rentals at specific providers. You could get up to 25% off just for having a specific credit card, for example.

Your bank also might have a discount option depending on their relationships with other companies. And you should check if there are any coupon codes available online before you make a booking (this is as simple as Googling “Hertz coupon codes).

If you can’t find a discount through any bank providers or institutions, go directly to the car rental website. Often times if it’s your first time renting with them or if you sign up for their mailing list you’ll get a sweet discount. You could get up to 30% off in your inbox. It’s always worth a check.

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Avoid the Airport

Renting at the airport is easy. You don’t have to travel anywhere else to get your rental, and you can easily drop it off on your way back home.

But the problem with airport rentals is that they’re notoriously the most expensive. They can be sometimes over twice the price of rentals elsewhere.

It is likely cheaper to take a taxi or uber a few miles to a non-airport facility and then renting from there. For just $10-$20 each way you could save $30 or more a day on your car rental. And most airports have cheap or even free shuttle buses into the center of the city.

Don’t Be Pressured into Insurance

Rental companies are known to pressure you into purchasing additional insurance at a premium. While you should certainly drive with insurance, you probably already receive enough coverage through your current insurance plan.

If driving overseas, review your current insurance policy to see if you have overseas coverage. You might even already qualify for insurance coverage through your travel credit card (we do with our Chase Sapphire Preferred).

Even if you do end up needing extra insurance for your car rental, there are third party options that are generally cheaper than the one provided by your rental company.

Say No to Extras

While it might seem nice to have a GPS or satellite radio, these perks come at a premium. Most smartphones already have GPS technology or you could bring your own from home.

As for special radio, bring your own auxiliary cord to use your own playlist instead. These small extras add up quickly and can increase the cost of your rental car by a large margin. You could probably purchase a new GPS for cheaper than the cost of the daily rental if it’s a long trip.

Also, it’s important to remember that if you don’t use these features at home, odds are you won’t use them here.

Know the Road Rules

Accidents happen, but you can still equip yourself with the right road knowledge to be safe when renting a car. Always review the road rules at your destination and familiarize yourself with the area before getting behind the wheel.

Research things like which side of the road you’ll be expected to drive on, whether or not you can smoke in the car, if it’s legal to talk on the mobile phone while driving etc. You don’t want to have to pay an international fine or face jail time.

Keep your cool while driving and avoid defensive driving. And keep distractions to a minimum when you’re behind the wheel. These small things make a big difference when keeping you safe on the road.

It’s also good to note that when researching your roads, make a note of where the checkpoints are if you’re crossing the border into a different country, and be sure to have your passport handy.


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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.



  1. These are the nice tips for saving money. I Would like to use these tips.

    • Glad the post was helpful Sing :) Happy travels!

  2. My favorite topic! Saving on car rentals. Great tips, thanks for sharing. We rented in downtown Anchorage instead of the airport and saved almost $500 on a 2 week rental. Crazy huh! I think it was only $25 for the cab to the rental agency.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Ladona :) Nice savings on the car rental in Anchorage – really is amazing the difference the airport inflation can make!!

  3. We checked rates in March for a Memorial Day visit to Portland, Oregon. An economy rental from Enterprise is $15 per day if you pick it up downtown. The same car is more than $38 per day if you pick it up at the airport. Plus you’ll pay a $6 per day “Customer Facility Charge” and 10% “Concession Recovery Fee” for renting at the airport.

    • It’s crazy how much the mark up and extra fees are at the airport isn’t it! As Ladona mentioned above, pay for a cab from the airport to the downtown rental lot, and you still come out way ahead!

  4. The other thing is remember to bring it back full of gas – if the rental company has to fill it up you end up paying a ridiculous price per gallon.

    • Great tip Miranda, yes, I’ve made that mistake before!!

  5. I get so frustrated with car rentals when the price on the main page is so far fetched from the final price with all the extra friggin fees. I’m renting a car for Texas in a couple of weeks and there’s a sales tax, something called a vehicle license fee, and an “arena fee” as well. Seriously.

    • I agree Aren, it’s really important to be aware of that final price and if it differs from what you were originally sold.

  6. Great tips! Thankyou!

    • You’re welcome Rachal, I’m glad it was helpful :)

  7. I always decline the insurance. Such a waste.

    • Us too – we’re covered under our credit card with Chase :)

  8. Somewhat of an expert here as I’m in and out of car rentals for business, but sometimes reserving a car for a week can be cheaper than trying to get a daily rate on a shorter rental. Usually weekly rates kick in around day 5, and it’s worthwhile checking even if the car is going to sit in a driveway or parking lot for most of that time.

    • Thankyou for sharing your insights Chan, that’s a great tip I might try next time!

  9. Traveling in the off season also helps with pricing discounts. Demand is lower.

    • Absolutely Nicholas, if you’re able to be flexible with dates and plan your trip around the off season I can highly recommend it from a money saving point of view :)

  10. I made the mistake of picking the wrong drop off time, not realizing that keeping it for an extra hour meant that they were going to charge me for a full extra day. So heads up on that – they definitely know how to get your money.

    • Oh no!! That’s really frustrating, I always assume they would give you an hour or so leeway on that. Duly noted!!

  11. Best thing you can do is let go of your name brands and try lesser known site.

    • Absolutely Brandi – I do enjoy the security and peace of mind when I book with reputable mainstream brands, but you can definitely find great discounts going with those that are more unknown :)

  12. Insurance is a pothole. Actually bring proof though with you if you’re already covered because a lot of car-rental companies
    now are demanding to see proof before they hand you the keys. Otherwise they force you to purchase their add ons.

    • Great tip Uzair, I didn’t realize companies were forcing it now. We usually rely on our credit card cover so I might print out that policy in the future as a just in case. Thanks for the heads up!

  13. I recently learned about my AAA discount with Hertz, although I have been a member for more than a decade. Go figure . . . .

    • Discounts for trips to come then :)

  14. I did use but I ended up using Hertz through the EAA which gives great discounts for car hire.

    • Thanks for sharing your experiences Glen :)

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