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The rental car crunch and rising gas prices have significantly increased the cost of a road trip. As car rental agencies struggle to replenish their inventory, daily rental rates are soaring in popular travel destinations. In some cities, you’re lucky to find a vehicle at all.
However, renting a car doesn’t have to feel like highway robbery. Discounts are abundant — you just have to know where to look.
Here’s where and how to find rental car discounts.
AAA car rental discounts
The AAA isn’t just for emergency roadside assistance. As a member, you can get discounted rates on auto repairs, auto insurance and battery service.
Additionally, AAA has partnered with a few car rental companies to offer members rental car discounts. Simply enter your club discount code to reserve a car online and present your membership card at the rental counter.
AAA membership starts at $59 per year.
If you’re an AAA member, you can save up to 20% off the base rate (time and mileage charges only) on Hertz rentals booked in the U.S. and Canada and up to 10% off the base rate on rentals booked across the world.
You also can add a driver (who is also a AAA member) and a child safety seat for free. AAA members ages 20 to 24 can will get the “young driver fee” waived. Additionally, AAA members can save 10% off prepaid fuel and 50% off SiriusXM satellite radio.
Hertz Gold Plus Rewards is the company's loyalty program. It’s free to join and membership allows you to skip the counter and pick a car from the lot.
» Learn more: Credit cards with elite car rental perks
Dollar Rent A Car
AAA members receive up to 10% discount off the base rate on Dollar car rentals at participating U.S. and Canada locations. An additional driver who’s also a AAA member and a child seat are free to add. You also receive 10% off fuel when you prepay for gas at the counter.
Save up to 8% off the base rate of your next Thrifty rental by putting your AAA membership to use. Like with the previous two car rental companies, rentals in the U.S. and Canada only are eligible for the discount.
Additionally, you can save money by adding a driver (who must be a AAA member) and a child seat at no extra cost. Prepaid fuel and a GPS navigation system get a 10% discount at the counter.
» Learn more: Which rental car company has the lowest prices?
AARP discount car rental
AARP is another organization offering discounts to members, including car rental discounts.
AARP membership costs $16 per year, but you can reduce that cost by signing up for a multiyear membership with automatic renewal.
You can save money on your rental car with the following companies:
AARP members save up to 30% off base rates on car rentals booked in the U.S. and Canada. A full-class car upgrade may be available at pickup, and an additional driver can be added at no cost.
Budget offers a discount of up to 35% on base rates to AARP members. A free additional driver, a free upgrade, discounted GPS and a loss damage waiver coverage are included in the AARP rates on rentals in the U.S. and Canada.
For those who are relocating, Budget Truck Rental offers a 10% (Friday and Saturday) to 20% (Sunday through Thursday) discount on moving truck rentals.
» Learn more: The guide to Budget’s Fastbreak program
Payless Car Rental
AARP members save 5% off base rates on car rentals in the U.S. and Canada and get an additional driver for free. A free upgrade on compact through full-size car bookings may be available as well.
Zipcar isn’t a traditional rental car company. Instead, this car-sharing app allows you to book a car on demand for a few hours to run errands in your neighborhood or for two days for a weekend trip (up to 180 miles per day are included).
AARP members pay $40 to join Zipcar, plus a one-time $25 application fee and get $40 in driving credit. Meanwhile, a regular annual membership costs $70. Gas, secondary insurance and maintenance are included in the cost.
» Learn more: Rental car alternatives you might not know about
Costco car rental discounts
Costco enthusiasts have access to members-only discounts from select car rental companies, such as Alamo, Avis, Budget and Enterprise. It’s possible to get discounts for rentals abroad.
With Costco member rates on rental cars, you can reserve online and pay at the counter, or cancel your booking without fees. It’s also possible to add a driver for free — the additional driver fee is waived on cars rented in the U.S. with Avis and Budget and on cars rented in the U.S., France, Germany, Ireland, Spain, and the U.K. with Alamo and Enterprise.
Executive Membership holders earn a 2% reward on purchases made through Costco Travel, including rental cars.
Costco charges $60 per year plus tax for regular membership and $120 per year plus tax for Executive Membership.
» Learn more: Are vacation packages good travel deals?
AutoSlash car rental discount
Not only does AutoSlash help you locate the lowest car rental price, but the website also tracks your reservation and sends you an email when the price of your car drops.
When generating quotes, AutoSlash takes into account membership-only discounts, including some of the ones listed above. The website asks whether you hold certain credit cards or are a member of wholesale clubs and whether you’re a frequent customer of select rental agencies.
AutoSlash then applies more than 1,000 coupon codes in its database when searching for the rental based on your parameters. The website claims to save you about 30% off what you can find on other sites.
Once you get a quote and are happy with it, you can reserve your car. If the price of your rental goes down after you booked it, you’ll receive a price drop alert.
AutoSlash is free to use.
» Learn more: How does AutoSlash work?
More tips for rental car discounts
Avoid one-way rentals: Picking up a rental vehicle at one location and dropping it off at another place lets you see more places on one trip and save time by flying from another airport. Doing this usually costs extra money. To avoid paying drop-off fees, reserve your car during special promotions that waive one-way or inter-city fees. Better yet, avoid one-way rentals.
Consider off-airport locations: An airport is a convenient place to pick up a car, but rental rates often include facility fees and taxes. To dodge this bump in the road, look for off-airport car rental agency locations to compare costs. Factor the cost of a ride to the pickup/drop-off spot to make sure the savings are significant enough to give up the convenience.
Decline collision damage waiver: Select credit cards offer collision damage waiver insurance as part of their membership benefit. This insurance typically covers theft and vehicle damage in case of an accident. Check the cardmember terms and decline coverage only if your card provides this perk.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
If you’re looking for a discount car rental
Being a member of an organization or a wholesale club often provides more benefits than just discounts on products or services. AAA, AARP and Costco all provide car rental discounts to their members.
If you’re not a member, search for a vehicle on AutoSlash. Combine the site’s rates with a few money-saving tricks, and you’ve got a discount for your next road trip.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card