Now that you have cheap flights covered with Altitude, I bet you’re wondering how to optimize other parts of your travel experience. Today I’ll be focusing on car rentals and sharing a few tips and tricks that I regularly use.
As soon as I have a flight booked, I immediately turn to Costco Travel to lock in a car rental reservation around my arrival and departure times.
The cool thing about Costco Travel is that you do not need to have your own Costco account. If you have friends or family with a Costco Card, you can use their number to book a car through the travel portal.
The biggest advantage I have found with Costco Travel is that you are not required to place a downpayment or provide any credit card information when booking. This is huge as it allows you to speculatively book and gives you added flexibility to go with another option if you find something cheaper closer to your travel dates.
Autoslash is a free service that provides two key services. First, they will help you find the cheapest price for a car based on your dates, memberships and loyalty programs. Second, Autoslash keeps an eye on your booking and notifies you if the price decreases. You can then rebook or contact the agency for an adjustment. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars on rentals before and cannot say enough good things about their service.
This may seem odd, but car rental prices fluctuate regularly and while they typically increase as you get closer to your pickup date there have been several times I’ve found that the price is slashed at the last minute. For example, this past week I had rented an SUV for $290 in Denver. Once I landed, I fired up Costco Travel’s website once again to see if prices had shifted at all. It turns out they did, my car had dropped by over $100 leading to a big savings. I was able to quickly rebook and keep some extra cash in my pocket.
If all else fails you often have a few other options. Major conventions and events can lead to entire airports running out of rental cars. My backup options are Turo – peer to peer car rental and Car2Go.
Turo is great if you are looking for a deal or a specific type of car. Anyone can list their car to be rented and Turo provides customer service and insurance. The only downside to this is that you will need to arrange pickup and drop-off with the person you are renting from. This can be hard if you are arriving late at night or departing first thing in the morning.
Car2Go is a car share service operated in cities throughout the US. I recently used them on my trip to Austin since car rentals were north of $100/day. Car2Go requires you to signup in advance, so it is helpful to do this well before you are planning to travel. Once you are signed up, you can use their smartphone app to unlock any of their cars in a city. You then pay per minute of use. This is typically in the 40¢ – 60¢ range. They also have day rates if you need to hold on to a car for the entire day.
Car2Go covers insurance and gas so you do not need to worry. Parking is also easy as you can street park them anywhere within the city for free. In cities such as Austin and Denver their fleet is composed on Mercedes CLA and GLA vehicles so you will be able to cruise around in style.