Businesses should book rental cars on the Internet
By guest writer Bob Cowen
With most rental car
companies now offering almost identical service, the key
factor is finding the cheapest car for your rental needs.
For more information
and updates, visit Bob's website
www.internettraveltips.com and join his free newsletter.
3 of a 3 part series - click for Parts
In today’s self-service world,
the keys to significant travel savings are knowing where and how
Web sites that began life
catering to the leisure traveler (the airlines, Expedia, Orbitz
and Travelocity) now promote “one stop shopping” for small
businesses. Their allure is ease of shopping, policy adherence,
But are these benefits real?
What about pricing, the convenience of the flights offered, the
location of the hotels, and – perhaps most of all, the value of
your time spent on their web site?
Car Rentals - now a commodity
These days your choice of
rental car should be largely influenced by cost. Rental cars
have become a commodity item (very much like airline seats). If
you’re renting from any of the 'brand name' companies, you’re
reasonably certain to get a nearly new low mileage car, and it
will be available in a lot not far from their airport, with
frequent shuttle service. Indeed, many airports now have common
lots and shared shuttle service for multiple rental car
Most rental car companies
have some type of fast checkout and return procedure for their
frequent renters. Pickup and return of your car can be
expedited by joining all of the rental car frequent renter
Rental cars have truly
become a commodity, and when you’re buying a commodity, price is
your main consideration. The good news – large savings are
available on car rental costs.
The Best Websites for You
Quarterly tests for U.S.
airport cities consistently find that
generally finds the lowest price for on-airport or nearby
off-airport (with a brief shuttle ride) rental cars.
SideStep is a program that is downloaded to your PC.
Because it works in conjunction with any other travel site, it
is suggested that you use
Orbitz uses the helpful matrix display concept, developed by
ITASoftware, to display the results for rental car rates.
The rental car companies
with the lowest prices are rarely the same; and there is no
clear-cut winner. Depending upon the airport and time of
year, SideStep may find the best price at Alamo, Budget, Dollar,
Occasionally even lower
prices are available at some relatively unknown rental
companies. However, these companies may be quite far from the
airport and lack the computer technology to allow rapid check
out and return of your vehicle. If there is a question about
where the lot is located, or what hours they're open, call the
Rarely do Avis, Hertz or
National provide the lowest prices. Most offer corporate
discounts with a “free” rental day after every 15 or so rentals
(a 7% discount). Most of the prices that SideStep finds are more
than 10% below the prices of Avis, Hertz, and National. It pays
to examine the real costs of “free” rentals and corporate
Most discount coupons that
are received in your credit card statement are worthless. Lower
prices are easily found via SideStep and other sites. However,
if you have a “free day” type of coupon, it may be worth
including it in your comparison.
Taxes and Fees
Don't forget to compare
'apples with apples' and make sure that all rates you're
comparing consistently include or exclude the various surcharges
and taxes and fees. These can make up as much as another
50% of the base rental fee, so it pays to understand these
It is recommended that you
reserve your car via SideStep. Their prices are often better
than the car rental companies’ web sites, and there is no
By quickly checking the best
and most useful web sites, you will be able to find the savings
within your travel constraints.
These days, your major
determinant in choosing a rental car should be the cost of the
rental. Most of the recognized name companies provide
similar cars, from similar locations, with similar services.
Price is the main point of difference.
The best way to quickly find
the best priced rental cars is via Sidestep and Orbitz.
Read more in Parts 1 & 2
Part 1 we look at the best way to
book rental cars online.
Part 2 we look at the best way to
book hotels online.
13 Feb 2004, last update
28 May 2011
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