In our roving retirement, renting cars is a frequent necessity. Luckily, I’ve found an easy way to make it fairly easy and inexpensive.
Rental car pricing frequently feels like a bad version of Wheel Of Fortune.
It seems like every time I spin the wheel, I get a different price. Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How all impact the price I am quoted.
In general with travel, I tend towards booking directly with the provider. For example, I buy airline tickets directly from United, hotel reservations directly from Hilton, cars directly from Hertz. I prefer this method over using Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) like Orbitz because, when (not if) things go sideways, I only have to work directly with the service provider (e.g. Hilton) to try to resolve matters.
Over the years, I have qualified for some go-to travel discount codes, like AAA and AARP, that I use with the providers to get the best rates. I’ve been aware of AutoSlash for a few years, but I never really bothered to use it because the other discount codes I had did a good enough job. Until recently.
I was looking at a car rental in the Colorado. I typically start with Kayak to get a sense of what I can get directly with a car rental agency. Then I will try my codes directly with a few providers to settle on a plan.
But, the Kayak quotes were not very good (pre-paid rental cars are no bueno, IMHO):
So, then I tried booking directly with Dollar, which is quite a bit more:
Finally, I tried AutoSlash. They have a 2-step process where you provide some info and request a quote. Autoslash is especially nice because I don’t have to try all of these different discount codes. The program knows the codes and applies them for you automatically.
About 3 minutes later, I got an email with a quote. The result was nice:
I like that AutoSlash provides quotes directly from the vendor as well as online travel agencies. This gives me a higher degree of confidence that I’m getting a competitive rate using many of the discount programs I have access to without having to try them repeatedly with the actual provider.
The 2nd punch comes if you then use AutoSlash to track your rental. They will send you an email if a better price becomes available. You can book the new offer and cancel the prior one. I’ve done this as many as 4 times for the same rental, dropping my cost from $1070 to $660, all for the same vehicle from the same vendor. This only works if you don’t do a pre-paid rental.
I find myself going to AutoSlash first these days. It’s rare that I can do better than them. Regardless of the original booking, I always use them to track my reservations to see if they can improve my price.
How do you save on travel bookings?