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How to Save Money on a Rental Car

Sometimes we’re just plain clueless when it comes to certain expenses. We don’t purchase air conditioners, automobiles, or furniture enough to consider ourselves expert consumers in those areas and often, that causes us to feel at the mercy of the salespeople. For many, travel expenses fall under that category. Most Americans don’t travel regularly so expenses like rental cars could make you feel like you wouldn’t know the difference between a good and bad deal.

As the husband of a former Enterprise employee, I’m in a unique position to know the real story behind rental car sales so let’s take a look at some of the facts that the rental car sales staff won’t be quick to tell you.

The Base Price

The base price of the car isn’t where the company makes the big money. The rate you received is dictated by the amount of inventory the store has, the day of the week, whether it’s a holiday weekend, and other factors. Although the rate can be reduced by certain discounts, shopping around for rates before you arrive instead of trying to haggle with the company is often the best way to score the best rate.

Their Motivation

Once you arrive at the counter, the hard sell begins. Much like shopping for a new car, the sales personnel are highly incentivized to sell the extras. The employees’ performance is tracked and formal sales numbers not only serve as a way to move up in the company but if they’re using their current position as a stepping stone to another, higher paying sales job, they have personal incentive to get you to say yes. Expect the hard sell and know the answers before you arrive.

Where To Save

Bottom Line

The salespeople at car rental companies often work long hours for not enough money. They rely on bonuses from the sales of these products to supplement their income so when they put the hard sell on you, nicely and patiently turn them down or from time to time, throw them the gift of saying yes to one of the extra products. My wife and I do that because we know that cleaning cars in the 90 degree heat wearing a suit for 8-12 hours a day is tough. From a purely financial sense, rent the car and say no to the extras.

(Photo: lfl [3])