Renting a car for your travel needs can greatly enhance your mobility and convenience. However, determining the best time to book a rental car and whether it’s cheaper to do so in advance or at the last minute can be confusing. In this article, we will explore the advantages of booking rental cars in advance and address the factors that make it a viable option for travelers. Additionally, we will provide valuable tips on how to secure the best deals when renting a car.
What is the best time to book a rental car?
The best time to rent a car is as soon as possible after deciding on your trip. Generally speaking, if you’re looking to save some money, the earlier you book, the better. This is true because car rental rates are dynamic, which means they change according to demand (just like airplane tickets). You can read more about how that works on our explanation about car rental dynamic pricing. Even if you have months to go, we still encourage you to book online and as early as you can!
Here are some things you have to consider to find the perfect balance between how long you have before your rental and finding the best price possible.
Is it cheaper to book a rental car in advance or last minute?
In general, booking a rental car in advance tends to be cheaper than waiting until the last minute. Rental car prices often increase as the travel date approaches, particularly during peak seasons or high-demand periods. By booking early, you can benefit from early bird discounts, promotional offers, and lower rates.
However, it’s essential to monitor prices and compare options, as there can be exceptions to this rule. Occasionally, last-minute sales or flexibility with travel dates and destinations may result in cheaper rates. Ultimately, it’s recommended to plan ahead and make an informed decision based on your specific circumstances.
Why Might You Still Book Rental Cars in Advance?
When it comes to renting a car for your travel needs, it’s essential to consider the advantages of booking in advance. In this section, we will explore the reasons why reserving your rental car ahead of time is a wise decision.
One of the primary reasons to book a rental car in advance is to ensure availability. Popular travel destinations and peak seasons often result in high demand for rental vehicles. By reserving your car ahead of time, you increase the likelihood of securing a vehicle that suits your preferences and needs. Waiting until the last minute may limit your options or leave you without a suitable rental car.
Booking a rental car in advance can often lead to cost savings. Rental car prices fluctuate based on supply and demand. By making an early reservation, you can take advantage of early bird discounts, promotional offers, or lower rates before they increase closer to your travel date. Comparing prices across different rental companies allows you to find the best deals and potentially save money.
Planning and Convenience
Pre-booking a rental car offers peace of mind and simplifies your travel arrangements. Knowing that your transportation is arranged in advance allows you to focus on other aspects of your trip, such as accommodation and itinerary planning. It eliminates the stress of searching for a rental car upon arrival, especially in unfamiliar locations or during busy periods.
Booking a rental car in advance is particularly beneficial if you have specific requirements. Whether you need a particular vehicle type, optional features, or specialized vehicles like SUVs or convertibles, reserving ahead of time increases the likelihood of securing your desired specifications. Some rental companies have limited availability for specialized vehicles or extras, so early booking ensures you get what you need.
Renting a car in advance saves you valuable time at the rental counter. With a reservation in hand, you can avoid long lines and paperwork, especially if you join loyalty programs or have memberships that offer priority service. This time-saving advantage becomes even more significant when you’re in a rush or have a heavily booked travel schedule.
Flexibility and Modifications
Booking a rental car in advance doesn’t mean you’re locked into a rigid plan. Most rental companies offer flexible cancellation or modification policies, allowing you to make changes if needed. Reserving ahead of time provides you with more options and allows you to make adjustments without facing penalties or settling for less desirable alternatives.
How can you get the best deal when renting cars?
Securing the best deal when renting a car is a priority for every traveler. In this section, we will provide valuable tips on how to make the most of your car rental experience.
- Keep looking
Start monitoring rental car prices early and continue to check for any fluctuations or special offers. Prices may change, and new deals may emerge closer to your travel dates. Staying vigilant helps you seize the most favorable opportunities.
- Check terms
Before making a reservation, carefully review the terms and conditions of different rental companies. Pay attention to factors such as mileage limitations, fuel policies, insurance coverage, and additional fees. Understanding the terms will help you avoid any surprises or unexpected costs.
- Get it booked early
The best thing you can do to save money on your car rental is to book as early as possible. When you do that, you don’t only guarantee the category and rental company of your choice, but also a more affordable price.
- Be specific
Specify your preferences and requirements when booking. If you need a specific car model, child safety seats, or any additional features, communicate in advance and ensure that your car will be complete and equipped for a smooth, comfortable and safe trip.
- If you can, avoid renting a car during high season
If your vacation or business trip is still being planned and/or the dates are more flexible, we advise that you avoid booking during high season. Summer time and Spring Break are just some examples of dates you should avoid if possible.
- Rent a car at a city location, not at the airport
Did you know that airport location rates are more expensive? Renting at the airport counter is easier, yes, but booking online to pick-up at the destination might save you a lot of money. If you want to compare prices, you can use Rentcars.com’s search engine to check the availability at the airport and the city to make the best decision.
- Weekly and weekend rates may be cheaper
The best way to know whether the weekend or weekday car rental rates are cheaper is to compare the dates when you’ll be picking up your car rental and adding a day or two. If it fits your plans, you might have a car for an extra day or more (which is great!) and get a cheaper daily rate.
- Use an online car rental platform
Using an online car rental platform that offers multiple options from different rental companies is the best choice because it provides convenience, saves time, allows for easy comparison of prices and features, ensures a wider selection of vehicles, and often offers exclusive deals and discounts.
To learn more about maximizing your travel experience, we encourage you to explore other articles on our blog. From destination guides to travel tips, our blog offers a wealth of information to help you plan memorable trips and make the most of your car rental experience. So, start your journey with us and embark on unforgettable adventures with the convenience and freedom of a rental car.