How to Rent the Best Car for the Least Money

by eHow Cars Editor

Nearly 100,000 rental cars in the United States go unused every day-- a good reason to drive a hard bargain. Car reservation agents rarely volunteer money-saving suggestions, but if you follow this advice, you could save hundreds on your next car rental.

Make a reservation online through one of the major car rental companies. It's by far the easiest and cheapest way to rent a car either locally or internationally. Just about every car rental Web site offers Internet-only discounts (about 10 percent) and upgrades as well as various special offers.

Rent through a name-your-own-price online travel agency such as priceline.com or Hotwire.com, particularly if you're not choosy about the car. These agencies will get the best deals with the car rental companies for you, including upgrades and unlimited mileage. Note: Once your request is accepted, you can't cancel or change your reservation or get a refund.

Search for package deals. Fly-drive-stay vacation packages offer huge discounts on car rentals. Many online travel agencies also offer fly-drive discounts as well. Avoid reserving a rental car through an airline. It's convenient, but you rarely get the best deal.

Ask for more discounts that may apply to you, even when you think you've scored the best deal: AAA, AARP, frequent-flier programs and military service are just a few of the many special discounts that car rental companies may honor.

Tip

  • check Always fill the gas tank before you return a car or you'll get tagged with a service charge to have the rental company fill it for you--at an inflated price per gallon.

Warning

  • close If you don't have auto insurance, you'll need to buy it from the rental company.