Lodging is not the only part of travel costs “on the ground” which will lighten your wallet or pocketbook of its load of cash. Justin Bachman of Bloomberg Businessweekreported that “despite a wave of auto recalls this year that have required some costly shuffling in their fleets, the three main U.S. auto rental companies— Enterprise, Avis Budget Group and Hertz Global Holdings — are enjoying robust pricing thanks to industry consolidation.”
“Even car rental companies are getting into the alliance act. Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car have recently formed something called the Drive Alliance, where it appears that reciprocal benefits between all three frequent renter loyalty programs will be enjoyed by members.
“Then again, it certainly does not hurt that all three rental car companies are owned by the same company known as Enterprise Holdings — so the only question I have about this ‘alliance’ is why it was not launched sooner.
…but why should rental car companies consider forming alliances within their brands if they have already been shrinking their fleets of vehicles, allowing them to increase rates for car rentals? The amount of vehicle inventory available on opaque pricing Internet web sites such as Hotwire and Priceline.com — which offer you deep discounts without revealing the exact company that is renting the car to you until you complete your transaction — has been reduced as well. New revenue management software application programs also help the three major rental car companies in the United States forecast supply and demand better and adjust prices more rapidly.
“Consolidation has improved the financial side of the business, at least for investors”, Bachman wrote. On Tuesday, August 5, 2014, Avis Budget reported that “its sales increased 10 percent in the second quarter, with prices in North America 5 percent higher than in the same period last year. The company also raised its full-year sales and income targets. All this is great news for shareholders. Avis Budget shares have gained 50 percent this year. Hertz has declined 3 percent in 2014 as it sorts out accounting problems that have marred three years of financial reports. Still, at its core business, Hertz is seeing the same trend: stronger pricing, especially at airports where legions of business travelers generally pay top dollar.”
Be flexible As with airlines, rental car rates can vary between days on which you intend to start or end the rental period; and consider renting from a location other than the airport at your destination if the cost is lower and it is not too inconvenient — and rates could increase significantly if inventory is low at a particular facility on a certain day
Rent from a different car rental company As there are basically only three car rental companies in the United States, chances are that that no-name company of which you never heard offering rock-bottom prices is a division of a major chain — such as Firefly Car Rental, which is a division of Hertz — but be aware that you usually will not be able to enjoy the benefits typically offered by the parent company
Travel to a different city If you do not mind driving, renting a vehicle from a rental car facility at a different location can save you money — even with the additional fuel costs associated with it; and especially if the rental car company offers special one-way rates to clear inventory in a particular part of the country such as Florida
Check for coupons and discounts There is almost always a variety of discounts available at the official Internet web sites of the major car rental companies offering percentages off of rentals for the week or for the weekend at any given moment — as well as last-minute specials and free upgrades
Use a valid discount code If you belong to an automobile club, are a member of a frequent flier loyalty program, or work for a corporation, chances are that you have access to a special code which has the potential to save you a significant amount of money on renting vehicles — and sometimes these codes also include such perks as automatic upgrades and insurance coverage included at no extra charge — but be sure that you are eligible to use the discount code
Join a frequent renter loyalty program Like other travel loyalty programs, they usually cost nothing to join — and you can earn free rental car days, free upgrades and other valuable perks, benefits and discounts
Use travel tools such as AutoSlash, Kayak and Internet travel agencies — Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia, to name only a few — to search for car rental rates; and just like with airfares: the more flexible you are, the more creative you can get
A few months ago, I was able to take advantage of a rate of $9.45 per day plus taxes and fees for renting a car out of Orlando and returning it at a location in the Atlanta area. I found this rate using the matrix grid of one of the aforementioned Internet travel agencies — so I have first-hand experience that all is not lost and that there are ways to still pay less money for your car rental…
…and as for rising airfares, be reassured by Richard Anderson — the chief executive officer of Delta Air Lines — when he stated in an interview with CNBC that “airlines are still a great bargain”, for what that is worth to you when you spend that extra money on airfare…