Happy Saturday, readers!
I had a few readers and friends ask me over this past week about car rental deals, and I referred some of them to an article I wrote earlier last week about $9.99/day weekend rates with Enterprise + the Hertz young driver waiver code. I also referred some folks to the post I made about Uber, a personal driver service, and how you can get a free $25 credit to use with them.
But there are situations when those promotions and Uber simply don’t work out with your itinerary. That’s when things get tricky. Many promotions, for example, are not valid at airport locations. For those of you who just scored great deals from the JetBlue $14 roundtrip tickets from SFO to LGB: what about transportation once you’re down in LGB or up in SFO?
The easy answer of course is to have a friend or relative pick you up. But since that’s not always possible, let’s talk about some car promotions you can leverage and the cost of car rentals.
Let’s start by saying that there simply is no cheap rental for anyone under the age of 25. You get hit with this “age differential” fee which in California usually amounts to $25 per day you are renting. This might not sound like much at first, but a four day car rental ends up becoming an additional $100 you are paying just because you are not 25. This is usually anywhere from an 80% to a 120% increase from the base price you’ll probably be paying for just the car rental.
So where do you book? The answer depends on your destination and when you are traveling. Hertz is currently running a promotion to waive the $25/day young driver (21-24) fee, so that might be worthwhile if you’re under 25. However, you can alternatively save up to 35% off and earn triple United miles on your Hertz rental by going through United’s link and entering Corporate Discount 62455 and PC# 165896. There really is no right or wrong answer here, as the prices for car rentals differ by location you are renting at and also by your own age. Also be sure to check with your insurance company to see if they have any discounts for you. AAA members get discounts with many rental companies!
What really bugs me about car rentals though is that it’s usually almost impossible to know if you are getting the “best” deal, because some rental companies let you stack certain promo codes, and often times they hide many of the good promo codes they have going on. For example, looking at early November dates for four and five day rentals out of LGB airport, I found that Enterprise gets me close to a $33/day rate and National gets me close to a $31/day rate, whereas Hertz forces me into their weekly rate which comes out to around $50/day. (Note this doesn’t include the taxes or any surcharges.)
The bottom line is that while I cannot guarantee or say that I have the best deals in this entry, I can at least tell you that I have a *few* good deals to get you started.
And since I value airline miles heavily and almost like cash (if you’re new to this blog, you will learn quickly that airline miles is the basis of how I fly roundtrip from SF to Europe for only $60 out-of-pocket, among other places), I am also including some of the airline miles deals that New Girl in the Air posted earlier in late July. While I’m reposting her list below and updating it with current promotions, huge props & credit goes to New Girl in the Air, so check out her blog.
So here are some promotions going on with car rentals right now:
- Alamo: Use ID 7015734 to earn 1,000 United miles on 3+ day rentals before December 31, 2012. You’ll still be able to stack this ID with other coupons for multiple layers of discounts, including coupon AD7443SDF for $15 off 3+ day rentals and AD2492ACX for $30 off 5+ day rentals.
- Avis: Use coupon MUAA035 to earn 3,000 American Airline miles on a 1-2 day rental (5,000 miles on rentals of 3+ days) when your reservation starts before September 15. If you prefer, use coupon MUAA096 for 1,500 bonusUnited miles on 3+ day rentals through September 30 (You’ll still get a standard 75 miles per day on top of that). Both are stackable with other AWD offer codes, including K817165 for up to 35% off rentals. (HT: The Points Guy)
- Hertz: Use PC #135892 to save $40 for rentals picked up at the airport. Young drivers may prefer PC #144314 to waive surcharges for being under age 25. Alternatively, you can save up to 35% off and earn triple United miles on your Hertz rental by going through United’s link and entering Corporate Discount 62455 and PC# 165896. Everyone though should be joining Hertz #1 Club Gold for faster pick-up – it’s free to join now through September 30
- National: Use Contract ID 5028009 to earn 1,000 United miles on 3+ day rentals through December 31 which can be combined with Coupon IDNU3210FPI for a free double upgrade.
- Thrifty: Use promo USPR to earn 1,500 US Airways miles on 2+ day rentals through March 31, 2013, and stack it with any corporate discounts you may be eligible for.
Again, there are many more car rental companies out there that I haven’t listed or featured. There are also plenty of more car rental promotions that are active. I have only outlined a few here. I would recommend that you do your own homework, and also take a look at your favorite airline loyalty program (mine would be United MileagePlus since UA flies everywhere), and check out their car rentals promotions page. Many airlines have partnerships with car rental companies to get you extra miles for rentals as well as corporate discount rates. Here’s the United Airlines page for car rental partnerships they have on-going and published.
Also, you can usually get great deals on hotels and car rentals when you book them together. There are dozens of sites available to do this, but I would also caution that you do your homework before just booking.
Where am I going to be renting a car from during my trip to LGB? That’s a tricky one. Since my trip is set for November, I will probably wait around until October before I make a final decision. But since I have Executive status in National’s Emerald Club (which really only gets you free upgrades), I’m more inclined to go with National if it only means a small price difference.
I will keep an eye out for car rental deals. I’m also writing another entry later this week about ongoing hotel deals. But if you haven’t already, take a look at the September 2012 Hotel Promotions Guide entry.
Enjoy the rest of your Saturday, readers!
p.s. On a different note, I launched a new Twitter account @frugalasianman last night. Follow it to stay up to date with deals! 🙂 I will also be releasing certain deals earlier to Twitter followers rather than post on this blog. (I try to limit my blog posts to a maximum of 3 per day.) Thanks for reading!