Car rental companies tend to periodically go through fleet shortages. When there aren’t enough cars for the number of renters who want them at airport rental desks or elsewhere, what do you do?
Tips to Rent a Car in Dubai
If you’re traveling and believe you will need to rent a car, you should go in with a strategy that helps you snag a vehicle whenever you need it. The following ideas can help.
1. Book early
People tend to make rental car reservations after buying their plane tickets, make hotel reservations, and even reserve seats for entertainment. Since rental cars are in short supply now, it’s important to rethink that order. The moment you know when and where you’ll need a car, you should take steps to make bookings. Not only does this ensure that you get a car when you need it, it helps you make sure that you get the lowest prices possible. Rental prices have doubled since 2019 and booking your car early will help you get quotes when prices are at their cheapest. Should prices drop after you book, nothing stops you from canceling your reservation and taking advantage of the lower prices.
2. Get a smaller car
Large SUVs and minivans see the most demand at rental car outlets. For this reason, these are the most expensive to rent and the ones the rental companies are unlikely to have spare units of. Aiming for a compact or subcompact is likely to be the least problematic. These are likely to be cheaper, and you’ll probably have fewer problems involving scheduling errors and car shortages.
3. Don’t stay with one company for the loyalty points
If you have loyalty points with a particular rental car company, you may not want to look elsewhere. The truth is, however, that loyalty doesn’t guarantee low prices, especially during times of high demand. You want to simply search every option available to see where the lowest prices are, keeping in mind that prices change each hour. Rather than going to individual rental agency websites, it can help to use a meta-search engine like Skyscanner, Kayak, or Travelocity.
4. Make use of your memberships
Credit cards often give you cheaper rental car rates, as do AARP, AAA, Sam’s Club memberships, and so on. Searching on AutoSlash can help you look at all the different membership discounts that are available.
5. Search again right before you pick up your car
Rental car companies often let you cancel without penalty, even at the last minute. Plenty of people take advantage of this lax approach to cancellations; they make reservations left and right and cancel right before it’s time. If many people cancel right before you need to pick up your car, you could find that the prices have dropped. For this reason, it’s a good idea to check prices before you are due to pick up your car. If prices seem to have dropped substantially, you could cancel your reservation and rebook at the new, lower rate.
6. Try a blind booking
Hotwire calls it Hot Rate, and Priceline calls it Express Deal — you pay upfront during the reservation process, and you only get to specify the class of car that you want, not the specific model or features. At the airport, you’re usually driven outside the premises to an off-property desk and introduced to your car. However, you get 25 percent off, and you’re guaranteed a car (you won’t find out when you get there that they gave your car to someone else).
7. Look elsewhere
It can help to try unconventional approaches to renting a car.
- When rental cars run out during busy travel times, people sometimes get a U-Haul pickup truck instead. U-Haul actually advertises the possibility that you can use their pickup trucks (not the large moving models) as rental car alternatives and that they are cheaper than airport rental cars because they don’t charge you a number of add-ons like processing fees, stadium/convention center taxes, license recovery fees, a young driver fee, and so on.
- Car dealerships often allow people to rent their newest models for extended, paid test drives. You simply need to call different car dealerships and ask. Typically, you save about 25 percent off what you would pay for a similar car at a rental car company.
- It’s possible to check a local rental car company rather than a national chain. Local rental car companies cater mainly to locals who want a car to drive to the beach or a similar excursion. You typically can’t exceed a 350-mile radius, but since this saves the rental company on insurance, you get to save 50 percent off typical rental car prices.
- Peer-to-peer car sharing is a possibility, as well. In the past, it didn’t work for individuals to try renting their cars to one another because car insurance companies never covered drivers whose names were not on the policy. It’s the reason rental car companies have so much power. New peer-to-peer car-sharing services, however, have found ways around this problem and allow you to rent a car from any private individual offering their car for use. Apps like GetAround, Turo, Maven, and HyreCar offer rentals in different parts of the country. You have less flexibility when it comes to where you get to drop the car off, and you need to get the car cleaned before you return it, but you could save money.
- Car hire aggregators are now popular across the world, with Airport Transfers UK offering both a UK-wide and international offer for great value transfers/private hire options. Book here for a quick quote today.
8. Opt out of extras
Car rental agencies charge you about $50 a day for collision damage and loss damage waivers. You can easily sidestep these charges by turning down these protections at the desk and using the free service offered by your credit card instead. But you need to ask your credit card issuer and ensure they offer rental car coverage. Your own car insurance policy may also offer coverage when you rent a car.
It can also make sense to decline the rental car company’s prepaid fuel offer — where you buy your fuel from the rental car company at prices cheaper than gas stations in the area. The rental desk likely doesn’t tell you that you have to buy a full gas tank from them. If you don’t use up all that gas before you return the car, they don’t give you back money for the gas left in the tank. In other words, it’s an elaborate way to get you to buy them free gas. For this reason, it’s much cheaper to simply decline their offer and go fill up outside with just as much gas as you think you’ll need.
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Rental cars may be expensive and hard to find sometimes, but you can still find ways around the challenges your way, with these tips.