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With the arguable exception of our occasional focus on the budget airlines, car hire is probably the least glamorous area of “travel hacking” that we cover. That said, please bear with me…
Regardless of the fairly dry subject area, car hire is a necessary part of value travel, and there are some very simple tricks to keep it as low cost as possible.
One of the most appealing elements to car hire is the usual flexibility of bookings – you can generally cancel at very short notice, without penalty. This carries an added, potential benefit: if you see a better value booking, it’s yours. Simply book it, and then cancel the existing booking.
That may sound pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised how often this is the case. Different rental companies run different promos at different times. With that in mind, even after you’ve secured what you deem to be a good value booking, it’s well worth monitoring options available to see if there’s anything better out there. I find the best way to do that is via a comparison site like rentalcars.com or carrentals.co.uk.
I have an upcoming car rental in Spain in mid-September. I’d secured what I thought was a pretty decent budget option: £57.48 for a compact manual for 6 days:
However, on re-checking my options, I found a better car, automatic (as preferred), with an additional driver thrown in for free, at a cheaper price:
I hope the lesson here is fairly self-explanatory. Once you’ve booked that rental car, if you can cancel it without penalty, monitor the situation regularly. There’s every chance that you’ll snare yourself an effective upgrade, bonus or discount.
Who should you book with?
There’s an enormous array of hire car options, and the value will depend on your personal circumstances (including status with the rental companies). However, my “go to” option is price comparison site rentalcars.com, via the generous cashback option on TopCashback.