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Always Rent Economy Cars and Avoid Airports

Posted By Jim On 12/21/2006 @ 5:04 pm In Frugal Living,Personal Finance,Shopping | 6 Comments

Three weekends ago (luckily not this week!), when my fiancee and I took a trip out to Denver, Colorado (a little more than a hundred bucks from Baltimore, courtesy of my favorite airline, Southwest) we rented an economy car from Enterprise for something in the neighborhood of $18/day plus insane taxes (as always). Instead, we received a full-size car for the price of an economy class. Whenever I travel and need a rental car, I almost always reserve an economy car and almost always get upgraded because by dumb luck (though I’ve read of tips that suggest you pick up your car during the day when most of the cars are out) they don’t have any economy cars left in the lot. Granted, I’m lucky in that I don’t have any kids, I’m not especially tall, and I am not going anywhere that requires four wheel drive so even if I were to get an economy car, it wouldn’t be something terrible.

Outside the main benefit of getting more than what you’re paying for, the smaller the car the more fuel efficient it will be, in general, and so if you’re willing to sacrifice a little bit of torque, going with the cheapest option is usually the way to go especially with the potential upgrade. The reason why these upgrades are so frequent is because rental companies always overbook. An unrented car is like an unstayed room or an empty seat – a revenue loser. So, it’s really easy to score an upgrade with vehicles.

Also, avoid airports because they come with additional taxes (11% airport tax!) and fees because they’re selling to a captive audience. If you need a car, that means you don’t have a car. If you don’t have a car, you can’t get to an off-site location to get a better deal… thus, you have no choice but to pay the higher rates. While this isn’t a helpful tip if you’re flying into a city, if you ever need to rent a car, remember to avoid the airports.

Lastly, I’m really glad we didn’t go to Denver this past weekend because they’re getting pounded with snow!


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