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How location affects your chances of scoring a rental car deal



Car Rental Deals! They're everywhere. You can find em' in the deals section of every rental car company's website. Hand over your email address and you'll receive a bunch of coupons every other day. Hop over to Facebook and Twitter for some more love. Check out the membership cards in your wallet or desk. Chances are that they entitle you to a ton of (drum roll, please) rental car discounts. If that isn't enough, you even have the option to sign-up for over a dozen frequent flyer programs for free and use their discount codes.
 
This is all great and it means you never ever have to rent a car without a discount. The not so good part is that you can only use one coupon for your rental, so how do you decide which one of the hundreds of coupons to use? Simple, use the one that saves you the most. The only problem is that it's virtually impossible to look at a coupon and figure out if it'll even work, let alone tell you how much you'll save.

Hidden deep in the mile long mumbo-jumbo (also known as the fine-print) are important requirements that describe the terms of use. These requirements limit the rental location, dates and vehicle that the promotion applies to. Over the years, we've seen a lot of coupons and a lot of different requirements, so we thought it would be interesting to take a deeper look at the location requirements to see how they affect your chances of scoring a rental car deal.

The Data-Set

A qualitative data-set should be sufficiently broad (variety of rental agencies) and reasonably deep (plenty of coupons).

With that in mind, we created a data-set that includes coupons published by all major rental car companies in the US, including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Fox, Hertz, National, Sixt and Thrifty.
 
Rental car deals (much like rental rates) are subject to market forces. As a result, when demand is high, rates are high and fewer deals are published. On the contrary, when demand drops, rates go down and a lot more deals are available. Demand varies daily, but the effects are most noticeable across seasons. To account for seasonal variation, our data-set includes over 1000 coupons - practically every publicly available car rental coupon published in the U.S. in the past 2 years.

Location Requirements

The first step of our analysis was to scan the data-set and look for references of location(s). A location is either a state (e.g. Colorado or CO), a city (e.g. Denver) or a region (e.g. New England). The analysis revealed that 46% of coupons in the data-set (excluding one-way rentals) reference a location.
Further analysis revealed that a location is referenced in one of two ways:
Targeted Offers:  valid only in the referenced city, state or region
Restricted Offers: valid everywhere, except for the referenced city, state or region

Targeted Offers

Targeted offers make up 26% of coupons referencing a location. These are coupons that target rentals in one or more city, state or region. 

Let's take a look at targeted offers that reference one or more states. The map below shows the percentage of targeted offers for each state. States in red have no targeted offers and states in green vary from light to dark based on the number of targeted offers. Some of the key highlights include:
  • Florida features in a whopping 39% of all targeted offers
  • California is a distant second with 17%
  • Central U.S. gets no love at all
Targeted Offers by State
Mouse over the states for details


Now let's take a look at targeted offers that reference one or more city or region (e.g. New York Metro). The map below shows the percentage of targeted offers in various locations across the country. The dots indicate the referenced location and the size of the dots vary with the number of targeted offers. Some of the key highlights include:
  • Burlington, VT has the highest percentage of targeted offers for a city. Further analysis reveals that these offers coincide with the leaf-peeping season
  • Locations in Colorado are the top pick for targeted offers. These offers seem to coincide with the Skiing season
  • The North-East has a few targeted locations too, mostly during the Winters
Targeted Offers by City
Mouse over the dots for details

 

Restricted Offers

Restricted offers make up the Lion's share (74%) of coupons referencing a location. These are offers that are valid everywhere, except for the referenced city, state or region.

Let's take a look at restricted offers that reference one or more states. The map below shows the percentage of restricted offers for each state. States colored green have no offer restrictions and states colored red vary from light to dark based on the percentage of restricted offers. Some of the key highlights include:
  • Hawaii tops the list featuring in as many as 50% of the restricted offers
  • Alaska comes in second with 27%
  • The Northeast bags the title of the most restrictive region in the lower 48, especially the Tri-State area of NY, NJ & CT
  • Interestingly, Arizona and Florida are the only other states specifically excluded in any car rental deals. The rest of the country is green.
Restricted Offers by State
Mouse over the states for details

Now let's take a look at restricted offers that reference one or more city or region (e.g. New York Metro). The map below shows the percentage of restricted offers applicable to various locations across the country. The dots indicate the referenced location and the size of the dots vary with the percentage of restricted offers for the location. Some of the key highlights include:
  • New York Metro area tops the list by featuring in 50% of all restricted offers, making it one of the hardest places to score a bargain
  • Manhattan features in 13% of all restricted offers (it's also a part of NY Metro) making it the hardest place to score a deal in the NY Metro area
  • Other locations across the country show up as mere blips on the radar
 
Restricted Offers by City/Region
Mouse over the dots for details

 

One-way Rentals

Rental cars are expensive, but one-way rentals (pick-up at one location and drop-off somewhere else) are exorbitant. In addition to the steep daily rate, one-way rentals include a mandatory drop-off fee (usually $60-$100 per day), which is often way more than the rental rate of the vehicle. 

Since one-way rentals are so expensive, most renters frantically look around for deals. While most car rental deals work for one-way rentals too, they barely save pennies on the dollar. The only way to get a good deal on a one-way rental is to find an offer that waives off the drop-off fee.

The major rental car companies publish exclusive one-way offers from time to time. Not only do these special offers waive the drop-off fee, but also offer super low rental rates. The catch is that rental car companies reposition vehicles(to maximize fleet utilization) mostly during Spring and Fall and these special one-way offers are only available at that time.
The map below shows the distribution of one-way rental offers by drop-off locations during Spring. States colored red have no drop-off locations (because that's where they want to move the vehicles from). States colored green vary from light to dark based on the percentage of one-way offers with a drop-off location in that state. Mouse over the states for details. Some of the key highlights include:
  • Arizona and Florida are the only states with pick-up locations
  • California, Nevada and Colorado are the top drop-off locations when you pickup from Arizona
  • One-way rentals from Florida mostly target drop-off locations along the East coast

One-way Rental Offers (Spring)

Come Fall, and its time to reposition the fleet yet again. The map below shows the distribution of one-way rental offers by drop-off locations during Fall. States colored red have no drop-off locations (because that's where they want to move the vehicles from). States colored green vary from light to dark based on the percentage of one-way offers with a drop-off location in that state. Mouse over the states for details. 

Key highlights include:
  • Fall one-way specials apply to vehicles picked up primarily in the North-east
  • And dropped off in the South-east
  • Florida is the top drop-off destination
One-way Rental Offers (Fall)

To wrap up..

While there's never a shortage of car rental promotions, a lot of them depend on where you rent a vehicle. The Budget Wendie deal, which offers a rental car for $17/day may sound incredible, but it's not going to work for you in New York. Infact, New York (Metro) along with Hawaii and Alaska top the list of locations specifically excluded from such promotions. On the brighter side, you have the widest array of coupons, deals and promotions if you're renting in Florida.

We also noticed a strong connection between the number of rental car deals and seasonal / local events. Renters enjoy a lot more discounts during the leaf-peeping season in Burlington, VT and the skiing season in Colorado. While one-way rentals are crazy expensive, you can get a huge bargain by aligning your travel plans with the annual fleet repositioning during Spring and Fall.

It is incredibly time-consuming to sift through promotions and figure out which ones are applicable, after all the ones that don't apply are simply noise. Zalyn's search tool helps you cut through this noise.
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Hertz Cyber Supersale - Deal or Dud?

Hertz cyber super sale
Thanksgiving marks the busiest shopping weekend of the year. The day after Thanksgiving has gained notoriety for outrageously good deals, especially for the door-busters. Luckily, those of us who don't want to trample others or be trampled have the option of scoring similar deals from the comfort of our home or office on Cyber Monday, the Monday following the Thanksgiving weekend.

While most retailers and businesses go bonkers during this time of the year, rental car companies play business as usual. This is probably because Thanksgiving is also one of the busiest travel time of the year and a great time to charge top dollars for rental cars. The only exception this year is Hertz, which is currently offering a Cyber SuperSale with a discount of 25% on rentals booked now through Cyber Monday (Dec 2, 2013) using promotion code (PC) 194832.

Important Fine-print

This offer is valid on vehicles picked up by Feb 14, 2014, but the reservations needs to be done in the next 6 days, now through Cyber Monday (Dec 2, 2013). In order to qualify for the discount, your rentals must be 3 days or longer (upto 14 days). The deal is valid on rentals in  the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico, but excludes locations in Arizona, New York, New Jersey and Florida. It's pretty common to see good deals blocked out for rentals in the New York area, but it seems Hertz is now starting to restrict such deals in other locations too. Another Hertz deal from a few weeks back also excluded rentals in Florida and Phoenix (AZ).

Testing the Waters: Weekly Rental in Denver

For a weekly rental at Denver International Airport (DEN) from Dec 11 - Dec 18, the standard rate for the cheapest vehicle was $399. Using the Hertz Cyber Supersale coupon, the total dropped to  $316, a saving of 20%. Not bad at all.

Hertz weekly rental discounted
Weekly Rental (DEN) - Discounted Rate

Hertz weekly rental regular rate
Weekly Rental (DEN) - Standard Rate


Testing the Waters: Weekend Rental in Seattle

For a weekend rental at Seattle Tacoma Airport (SEA) from Jan 10 - Jan 13, the standard rate for the cheapest vehicle was $343. Using the Hertz Cyber Supersale coupon, the total dropped to $273, a saving of 20%. The savings are in line with what we saw for the weekly rental in Denver.

Hertz weekend rental discounted rate
Weekend Rental (SEA) - Discounted Rate
Hertz weekend rental standard rate
Weekend Rental (SEA) - Standard Rate

Deal or Dud?

While saving 20% on your rental car may sound compelling, it's not out of the ordinary. There are dozens of Hertz coupons available at any time, some of which can be stacked together for a double discount. So, how does this deal compare with other available deals?

Using currently available Hertz deals, we quickly found an Economy car for $205 for the weekly rental in Denver. This is a huge saving compared to the standard rate of $399 and the Hertz Cyber Sale rate of $316. For the weekend rental in Seattle, we found a Compact car for $105 using this deal, which is way cheaper compared to the standard rate of $343 and the Hertz Supersale rate of $273.

Based on our limited testing, the Hertz Cyber Supersale appears to be a DUD!

Please note that most of us have different car rental requirements - location, date, time, vehicle, etc. As a result, we see different standard and discounted rates. Just because a promotion works well (or doesn't) for one person doesn't necessarily imply the same result for everyone else. The only way to find the best deal for your unique requirements is to try em' out for yourself. 

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The fastest way to earn free rental days


Car rental reward programs get a bad rap for being primitive compared to the much more sophisticated Airline and Hotel reward programs. While this is true for the most part, some of them like Hertz Gold Plus and National Emerald Club are actually pretty good. Check out this post for a comparison of various car rental reward programs. Aside from standard rewards that earn points or credits on completed rentals, which can be redeemed for free rental days, some rental car companies run promotions that can help you get there way faster. Here's a quick roundup of such currently ongoing promotions.

Avis Break Free

Avis Break Free - Free Rental Days

Avis Break Free promotion is available to Avis Preferred (signup for free here), Avis First and Avis President's Club members. Registered members earn a free rental day after completing two qualifying paid rentals through March 31, 2014. You need to register for this promotion before your rentals count towards this promotion.

Unlike other similar promotions, not all of your rentals count towards this promotion. Notable exclusion include -
  • Economy and Compact car rentals don't qualify
  • Certain discounted rentals (government, travel industry, tour, wholesale or convention rates)
  • Rentals booked through Priceline or Hotwire
  • Rentals that earn reward points and miles (airlines miles, hotel points, etc)
  • Rentals using a Break Free Rental Reward Day coupon
It is important to note that it'll be a long wait of 4-6 weeks before Rental Reward Day coupon arrives in the mail (yes, it's a paper coupon). The coupon applies only to a rental of Subcompact through Full-size or a Premium car. Don't forget to redeem the reward coupon before June 30, 2014. You can earn an unlimited amount of Break Free Rental Reward Day coupons during the Promotion Period and use upto four Free Rental Reward Day coupons for the same rental.

National One Two Free

National One Two Free - Free Rental Day Reward

Update (8/21/2014): This promotion is back and is now available through Jan 31, 2015.

National One Two Free is available to National's Emerald Club members (signup for free here) and like the Avis Break Free promotion, it offers members a free rental day reward with every two qualifying rentals through Jan 31, 2014. 

Emerald Club members normally earn 1 credit for each completed rental of upto 4 days (and 2 credits for rental of 5-8 days) and can redeem 7 rental credits (6 for Emerald Club Executive members and 5 for Execute Elite members) for a free day certificate. This promotion gets you to a free day in a third of the time it normally takes to earn one.

Once you earn the 600 points required for a Free Day coupon, you'll receive the reward coupon within 48 hours which is way better than the 4-6 weeks with Avis Break Free. However, while Avis allows you to use upto four Free Day coupons for a single rental, National caps it a three. Don't forget to use the reward coupons before they expire on June 17, 2014.

In addition to earning free day reward using earned credits, you can also earn free day reward by earning 600 points. Here are some ways to get to that mark -
  • Download the mobile app and earn 25 points
  • Rent you next vehicle using the mobile app and earn 75 points
  • Visit a Drive Alliance site and earn 25 points
  • Refer a friend and earn 300 points
  • Connect with National on Facebook and earn 50 points

Hertz Free Days

Hertz Free Days

Hertz Free Days promotion is available to Hertz Gold Plus members (signup for free here) and registered members can earn upto 350 bonus points (in addition to regular reward points) for each rental of two days or more through Dec 15, 2013. You need to register for this promotion before your rentals count towards this bonus.

It is important to note that neighborhood rentals earn 250 bonus points, while airport rentals earn an additional bonus of 100 points bringing the total to 350 points. In addition, members earn 50 points just for registering and another 50 points for completing a quick three question survey. 

If you're not a Gold Plus member and are signing up today, please note that you'll need to wait for 48 hours before you can register for this promotion. 

Gold Plus reward points can be redeemed for a free weekend rental day for as low as 550 points, which you can easily earn by completing two paid rentals. 


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Why are Car Rental Coupons so finicky?

finicky car rental coupons
Few things are as annoying as getting excited at the prospect of scoring a big fat juicy discount only to realize that it's not going to work! For reasons beyond my understanding, marketers seem to think this is a very effective strategy and continue to flood our inbox with insane promises on a regular basis. Sure, some of us are likely to fall for great-sounding offers but after being let down a bunch of times I believe that most people will realize that it's a case of the boy who cried wolf and stop paying attention. Shouldn't that make this marketing strategy ineffective? I digress, the topic of today's post is to examine some of the reasons why car rental coupons are so finicky and if we can do something to get a leg up. Lets get to it.

Dreaded Terms & Conditions


The most common reason why car rental coupons don't work is when you don't meet all the requirements stated in the Terms & Conditions. It doesn't help that most of us have the attention span of a goldfish and the fine-print is purposely designed to be boring, lengthy and hard to skim through.

We analyzed hundreds of car rental coupons and found that the average fine-print contains a whopping 231 words and mandates an average of 4 requirements that need to be met in order to qualify. Sure enough, a lot of disappointments can be avoided just by ensuring that you meet all the requirements.

The only problem is that reading coupon fine-print is as exciting as watching paint dry and it can take up a lot of time. So, what's the solution? Zalyn features a search engine that takes your unique requirements and scans the fine-print of hundreds of coupons to find relevant matches. The search engine typically eliminates over two-thirds of all active coupons, the ones that are not applicable to your rental.

Ambiguous Participating Locations

While analyzing the fine-print is challenging, it is something that can be dealt with. However, despite meeting all requirements the coupon may still not work, especially if you're renting at a non-participating location.

Huh? What the heck is a participating location and how do I know which one's participating? Unfortunately, that information is not available anywhere. You'll only find ambiguous stuff like this in the fine-print - 
Avis: Offer is available for U.S. and Canadian residents only for rentals at participating locations in the U.S.
Hertz: This offer is redeemable at participating Hertz locations in the U.S.
Dollar: A limited number of vehicles are available at this promotional rate at participating locations.
National: The availability of this offer is limited to participating locations in the U.S and Canada
While the fine-print may occasionally mention that the promotion is not valid in New York Metro, there are plenty of non-participating locations that are never mentioned. Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to know if your preferred rental location is participating or not, unless you try to use the coupon.

What happens when you try to use a promo code? If you're lucky and the promotion code is accepted, you'll most likely see a list of available vehicles and their corresponding rates. Depending on the website and the type of promo code, you'll either see the discount upfront or all the way at the end of the reservation process. If the rental location is not participating in the promotion, you'll either see an error message that tells you that the location is not participating or a cryptic message that doesn't really tell you much.



Rental car companies classify rental offices in a few different ways. One classification is based on the location - Airport locations vs Neighborhood locations. The other classification is based on ownership - Corporate-owned vs Franchise-owned. A lot of coupons and promotions don't work at franchise locations and coupons for Airport rentals don't work at Neighborhood locations. Some coupons are a little more informative and specify what kind of rental office they're valid in -

Enterprise: Valid at participating neighborhood locations within the U.S. and Puerto Rico only for rentals reserved in advance
Hertz: Valid at Airport and Off-Airport locations through December 31, 2013 in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and Mexico.
Budget: Pick up at participating Budget airport locations in the U.S. from August 15, 2013 through December 15, 2013.

Unknown Blackout Dates

Blackout dates are specific times during the year when travel rewards, discounts and promotions are not available. These dates typically fall on or around major holidays and other national or regional peak travel periods. Coupons and promotions are meant to augment demand and since the demand is usually high during the blackout periods, rental car companies don't need to provide any additional incentives.

Unfortunately, blackout dates are not mentioned in the fine-print and the only way to find out is by trying out the coupon for your dates. To make matters worse, most websites won't tell you why a coupon didn't work and will either just show you regular rates or show a generic message that doesn't say a lot.

The good news is that there are quite a few discounts that will work even during the busiest travel periods. It's important to remember that you're more likely to run into coupons that don't work than you'd normally expect. However, if you set reasonable expectations there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to score a good deal, even during blackout periods.

Discontinued Promotion

Finally, the last reason why a car rental promotion may not work is because rental car companies retain the right to discontinue the promotion at any time. It is not clear why they would do this but a reasonable guess is that they have healthy demand and no longer need to provide additional discount to spur demand. It is possible that they have the ability to pause / stop a promotion at specific locations based on the fleet utilization status.

The other reason (pure speculation) could be that the rental car companies allow only a certain number of reservations using a discount code and when the threshold is crossed, the promotion is automatically discontinued.

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Hertz Flash Sale - Save 50% on your rental (24 hours only)

Save 50% on your Hertz rental
If you  are renting a vehicle in the next three weeks, this is something you should definitely check out. Hertz is currently running a very limited time promotion that could probably save you big bucks. Hertz is offering upto 50% off all rentals booked in the next 24 hours using Promotion Code 194036. Now, chances are that you've used rental car coupons in the past and you probably know that a upto 50% is almost NEVER a 50% discount, but far lower. However, before you dismiss this deal as yet another gimmick meant to grab your attention give it a shot and see how it works for you. Why? Because we checked it out for a bunch of itineraries and the results were impressive.

Important Fine-print

As always, there are a bunch of terms and conditions you need to meet in order to qualify for the discount. Check out this quick summary to see if you qualify for this amazing deal
- Offer valid for reservations booked Oct 27 - Oct 28, 2013 for vehicle pickup from Oct 27 through Nov 15, 2013.
- Offer is redeemable at participating Hertz locations in the U.S, and Canada (excluding NY Metro, Florida and Phoenix, AZ)
- Valid on economy through Full-size cars and small SUV.

Testing the Waters: Daily Rental in Denver

Check out the results of a rental at Denver International Airport (DEN) from Nov 4, 2013 - Nov 7, 2013. The regular or rack rate for this rental comes out to $136. When we add Promo Code 194036 to the rental, the total drops to $80. That's a saving of $56 or a saving of 41% off the regular rate. 

Hertz rack rate for a Economy car in Denver
Hertz Weekday Rental in Denver - Regular or Rack Rate


Hertz discount rate for a Economy car in Denver
Hertz Weekday Rental in Denver - Discount Rate

Testing the Waters: Weekly Rental in Atlanta

We saw similar results for a weekly rental in Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport. The regular rate was $288 for a Compact car and the discounted rate with this promotion was only $180. That's a saving of over $100 and reflects a 37% discount. Not bad at all.

Hertz Weekly Rental in Atlanta - Regular or Rack Rate

Hertz Weekly Rental in Atlanta - Discount Rate

Deal or Dud?

We tried a bunch of different itineraries (daily, weekly and weekend rentals) at a few different locations and the savings were always north of 30% off the regular rates.

Based on our limited testing, the Hertz Flash Sale appears to be the real DEAL!

Please note that most of us have different car rental requirements - location, date, time, vehicle, etc. As a result, we see different standard and discounted rates. Just because a promotion works well (or doesn't) for one person doesn't necessarily imply the same result for everyone else. The only way to find the best deal for your unique requirements is to try em' out for yourself. 
 
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AWD, BCD, CDP - What does this mean?

car rental coupon codes

If you shop online (who doesn't), you're probably familiar with the concept of entering a coupon code to get a discount. Over the past few years, coupon adoption has increased dramatically and it seems most retailers now offer a variety of physical (paper) and online (digital) coupons. Most retail websites accept a single coupon code during the checkout process. On the other hand, rental car companies can accept multiple codes at the same time. Each discount code will work, if and only if it is entered in the correct field on the website, so its important to know what kind of coupon you have, what it means and where it needs to be entered. While multiple discount codes can be confusing, the good news is that they can can often be stacked together for multiple discounts on a single reservation.

Discount Code Types

Contract Code: A unique code that identifies a negotiated rate, typically a percentage off the regular rate (e.g. 10% off standard rate) or a fixed-rate (e.g. a mid-size car for $29.99/day) irrespective of the current market rate. In most cases, contract code discounts are applicable to those with specific affiliations (e.g AAA, AARP, Costco, USAA), although that's not always the case. Avis, Budget and Hertz frequently offer contract codes available to the general public.

Coupon Code: Coupon or promotion codes (as they're sometimes referred to) are generally available to everyone and don't require any specific affiliation. Some car rental companies also allow you to stack coupon codes with contract codes for an even better deal. Coupon codes offer all types of discounts - anything from a dollar value discount (e.g. $10 off), free rental day or perks like a free upgrade, free GPS, etc

Rate Code: Some rental car companies, like Avis and Hertz have a third type of discount code called the Rate Code (RQ), which mostly offers fixed-rate discounts like the Hertz $14.99 weekend deal.

Most rental car companies have their own fancy names for these discount codes.

Avis Discount Codes

Avis AWD codeOn Avis.com, the fields for the various discount codes don't show up by default. In order to see them, you need to click on the I have a Discount Code checkbox. 

Avis Worldwide Discount (AWD) number is a unique number assigned to an Avis account or program that identifies eligibility for contracted features or rates. It's usually a combination of one letter by six numbers (e.g. A123456).

Avis Rate Code requests one specific or rate promotion instead of checking all available rates. This code must be entered during the reservation process in order to receive the discount on the rental.

Coupon Code (e.q. MUFA045) entitles you to a discount that is applied to your estimated total during your reservation.

Alamo Discount Code

On alamo.com, click on Add Discount Code to reveal the discount code fields. 

Contract ID refers to unique codes that retrieve discounted rates based on contracts between Alamo and partner companies. A number of Contract ID discounts are available to the general public through their members with frequent flyer programs like Alaska Mileage Plan, American Aadvantage, Delta SkyMiles and others.

Coupon Code is mostly a publicly available discount that offers discount like free rental days, $20 off and free upgrades. Alamo allows users to stack a Coupon Code with a Contract ID to double up on the discounts.

Budget Discount Code

On budget.com, click on the use an offer code checkbox to see the fields for BCD and coupon code.
Budget BCD Code

Budget Customer Discount (BCD) is a seven-character code, one letter followed by six numbers (example: L######) associated to a specific discount. The discount can represent a negotiated corporate rate, a membership discount associated with a Budget partner, or it can originate from a specific ad or coupon that can help you qualify for special rental offers.

Coupon Code entitles you to a discount that is applied to your estimated total during your reservation.

Enterprise Discount Codes

On enterprise.com, look for the box titled Optional: Coupon, Customer or Corporate Number

Enterprise doesn't allow you to stack multiple discount codes for the same reservation. Each enterprise coupon has one and only one code, although it may offer multiple perks or discounts. For example, this coupon saves Costco members 10% on their rental and on top of that they enjoy a free upgrade.

UPDATE: Julie Freyberg pointed out (in the comments) an important issue with discount codes on enterprise.com. Apparently, enterprise.com locks you into the coupon you enter the first time you visit the website and then doesn't allow you to change it. It hides the discount field after your first search and there's no option to bring it back. This is very cumbersome when you're trying out different codes to see which one works best. However, we managed to find a couple of quick workarounds:
  • If you have Google Chrome, simply launch a new Window in the Incognito Mode (Ctrl+Shift+N is the shortcut). 
  • Alternatively, delete your browser cookies and the coupon box should show up.

Hertz Discount Codes

Hertz CDP
On hertz.com, click the Enter a Discount or Promo Code checkbox to see the various discount fields.

Hertz Counter Discount Program (CDP) is a contract or program that has been established in cooperation with a company or organization under which individuals with specified characteristics are entitled to rent on rental terms that differ from those generally offered to the public. Examples of CDP’s include corporate rate plans and credit card and travel club discount programs. A CDP Number consists of numerical values and is between 1 and 10 digits long.   This number can also be used in conjunction with a PC (Promotion Code), RQ (Rate Code) or CV (Convention Number).

Hertz Promotion Coupon (PC) is a six-digit number associated with a special offer or promotion.  This number can also be used in conjunction with a CDP (Discount Program) or RQ (Rate Code) if the special offer or promotion requires additional information be included in the reservation.

Hertz Rate Code (RQ) is a four to six digit code that is used to trigger discounts off of standard leisure rates. This number is often displayed in a special offer with the text I was told to ask for. RQ can also be used in conjunction with a CDP (Discount Program) or PC (Promotion Code) if the special offer or promotion requires additional information be included in the reservation.

Dollar & Thrifty Discount Codes

Thrifty Promotion Code
Dollar and Thrifty are part of the same corporate group - Dollar Thrifty Group, which is owned by Hertz. Not only are their websites pretty similar, they generally tend to have the exact same promotions, even share the same codes! 

Corporate# is a unique code that identifies a negotiated rate typically applicable to the government, military or businesses having a corporate relationship with Thrifty.

Promotion# are available to the general public and come in all forms and flavors.


National Discount Codes

On nationalcar.com, click View Additional Fields to reveal additional search options, including the discount fields.

Contract ID refers to unique codes that retrieve discounted rates based on contracts between Alamo and partner companies. A number of Contract ID discounts are available to the general public through their members with frequent flyer programs like JetBlue TrueBlue, Southwest Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus and others.

Coupon ID is mostly a publicly available discount that offers discount like free weekend rental day, $25 off a weekly rental and free upgrades. National allows users to stack a Coupon ID with a Contract ID to double up on the discounts.
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Under 25 Car Rental Surcharge


At 18 years, you are considered a legal adult in the US. As an adult, you can take up a job, rent an apartment, participate in contracts, vote and join the military. By 21, you are considered responsible enough to become a police officer, firefighter and purchase alcohol. However, you need to be at least 25 years to be treated at par with other car renters. While no one rents vehicles to those under 18, some agencies will rent to 18-20 year-olds and most will rent out vehicles to those over 21 years. Unfortunately, renters under 25 years are charged an exorbitant underage surcharge for the privilege. In many cases, this can more than double the cost of a rental car.
 
Rental car companies quote the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that says drivers who are younger than 25 are significantly more likely to get into accidents than older drivers. After age 25, the crash rate declines dramatically and continues to drop until the driver reaches 85. In order to rent out vehicles to risky drivers, they believe an underage surcharge is justified.

The underage policy varies between rental car companies and locations. In general, you need to be 21 or older to rent a vehicle and must have a valid drivers license and credit card. As a young driver, you may be subject to a driving record or license check to ensure that you're a safe driver. A surcharge of $10 - $25 per rental day will apply and certain expensive vehicles will be off-limits. The table below compares important aspects of various underage policies.

Agency 18-20 years 21-24 years Surcharge included in total
Only in certain states with surcharge:
New York: $52/day 
Michigan: $41/day
Underage surcharge:
US: $27/day
Canada: $35/day
Only in New York and Michigan Varies by location. Usually $20 - $25 per day
Only in New York and Michigan Varies between $20 - $35 per day
Can't specify age online Mostly $25/day
Only in New York and Michigan. Can't be booked online. Varies between $10 - $20 per day
Hertz rents to 20 year olds Normally $20 - $25 per day
Only in certain states with surcharge:
New York: $66/day 
Michigan: $26/day
Usually $25/day surcharge. 
New York: $23.50/day 
Michigan: $14/day
Can't specify age online Mostly $25/day

 

Avis Underage Renter Policy

Avis primarily rents to customers 21 years and older, although 18 year olds can rent in certain states. An underage surcharge is applicable to young renters and reflected in the estimated total when you reserve a vehicle. The surcharge is generally $27/day in the U.S. and $35/day in Canada (see full policy). There are a few exceptions:

Washington DC: Minimum age to rent is 25, except at Washington Dulles Airport (IAD) where 21-24 can rent with a valid credit card and driver's license.

New York State: Minimum age to rent is 18. A $52/day surcharge applies to 18-20 year old renters and a $35/day surcharge to 21-24 year olds.

Michigan: Minimum rental age is 18 with a $41/day surcharge for renters 18-20 years old and a $28/day surcharge for 21-24 year olds.

Quebec: Minimum age to rent is 21 with an under age fee of $20/day for 21-24 year old renters.

Saskatchewan: Greatest place to be an underage renter! Minimum age is 18, with no underage fee. Can't beat that.

Government Personnel on business have the underage surcharge waived, but leisure rentals by government personnel are still subject to the surcharge. Young renters are not allowed to rent certain types of vehicles like Full-Size & Premium SUVs, Luxury vehicles, Minivans & Passenger Vans.

Alamo Young Renter Policy

Minimum age to rent a vehicle is 21, except in NY and MI, where the minimum age to rent is 18. Rental rates may be higher for renters and additional drivers under the age of 25. Details of the applicable young driver fee shows up on the reservation page on alamo.com. Certain specialty and larger sized vehicles may not be available for rentals when the renter or additional driver is under 25.

Budget Underage Surcharge

Minimum rental age in the U.S. is generally 25 — except in locations where an individual 21-24 years may rent specific vehicles. An individual 21-24 years of age may only rent an economy, compact, intermediate, standard, full-size or premium car or an intermediate or standard SUV. Underage surcharge varies from $20 - $27 based on location.  (see full policy).

Dollar Underage Renter Policy

Every local car rental office has their own set of rules, but in general, the following policies apply:
  • Style Series cars like BMWs, Mercedes-Benz and Mini Coopers are strictly for the over-25 group
  • Under-age Driver fee: The charge varies by location but is generally around $25/day.

Enterprise Youthful Driver Fee

The minimum age to rent a vehicle is 21 years. Enterprise has the lowest underage surcharge among the major rental car companies. Surcharge varies between $10 and $20 based on the location.

Hertz Age Differential Charge Policy

The minimum age is 25 without an additional Age Differential Charge, and 20 with an additional Age Differential Charge. The minimum age for Prestige & Adrenaline Collections, as well as select high performance vehicles, is imperatively 25. Certain corporate accounts have agreements with Hertz which permit rentals to young renters.

Thrifty Underage Renter Policy

The minimum age requirement is 21 years old unless otherwise mandated by state law. Thrifty Business accounts may waive the underage driver fee as a negotiated corporate account benefit for qualifying companies.

The biggest problem with the Thrifty website is that it does not add the underage surcharge to your estimated total. As a result, you'll be in for a big shock once you get to the rental counter.

National Underage Policy

National has a standard minimum age requirement of 21 years of age. In some states, the minimum age required is 18 years of age and an insurance recovery charge applies. The minimum age for Military/Government personnel renting on a government rate is 18 years old (see full policy). Certain specialty and larger sized vehicles may not be rented to drivers under 25.
  • New York state: The minimum age for NY is 18 years of age. An $66.00 per day additional charge applies to 18-20 aged renters and a $23.50 per day additional charge applies to 21-24 aged renters.
  • Michigan: The minimum age for MI is 18 years of age. A $26.00 per day additional charge applies to 18-20 aged renters and a $14.00 per day additional charge applies to 21-24 aged renters.

Payless Underage Surcharge

Renter must be 25 years of age with a valid drivers license and a major credit card in his/her own name. Renters 21 through 24 years of age add an additional $25.00 per day surcharge. Underage surcharge will not appear in total pricing. Renters 21 through 24 years of age may rent only Economy, compact, Intermediate, Standard, Full, Premium Sized cars and Minivans.

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Need a car? Rent it from your neighbors

Few weeks back, we did a post on how the hourly car rental business is making it easier for people to ditch their cars and still retain the convenience of having one when you need it. With all the big players now offering hourly car rentals (similar to Zipcar), more and more vehicles are  available in a growing number of neighborhoods.

A few start-ups are putting an interesting spin on this business - instead of waiting for these companies to offer cars in your neighborhood, why not just rent cars that are already in your neighborhood - the ones owned by your neighbors! This model is generally referred to as Peer-to-Peer (P2P) car rental and is gaining popularity as more and more urban dwellers make the environmentally friendly choice of living without owning an automobile. Some of the main players in this market include -

RelayRides


RelayRides connects people looking to rent a car, truck, or SUV with owners willing to rent our their vehicles to make some extra money. RelayRides is available throughout the country, including a few airports, but is not available in New York. Prices vary, largely depending on the make, model and market. Learn more about How RelayRide Works

Renters are asked to provide their mobile number, driver's license and credit card when they signup. This is done to run a check on the renter's driving history in order to protect car owners from renters with a bad record. While it may sound similar to Zipcar, there are a number of notable differences -

Booking: With Zipcar, users can see which vehicles are available and for how long. Users can book available vehicles online and that's the end of the booking process. With RelayRides, the process is slightly longer. Renters select one or more vehicles in the desired location and a request with your desired pickup and dropoff time is then sent to the owners. The owner may accept, decline or suggest an alternate time. Once both parties agree, the vehicle is considered booked.

Pickup & Return: Zipcars are usually in public parking lots and members can unlock booked vehicles simply by scanning their zipcards. It is quick and convenient. With RelayRides, you're dealing with an individual and not a company and renters are generally required to meet the owner at the pickup time, who then hands over the keys to the renter. The same thing happens when you return the vehicle.

Gas: Another notable difference is that with Zipcar, the cost of gas (upto 180 miles) is included in your rental. Another thing of convenience is that if there is more than a quarter tank of gas, you can return the zipcar without filling it up. With RelayRides, you are required to replace the gas you used before you return the vehicle.
 
After the rental is complete, the owner and the renter share their feedback to ensure accountability and transparency.

GetAround

GetAround car rentals
GetAround offers a similar service, although it is available in fewer markets compared to RelayRides. GetAround is currently available only in Austin, Chicago, Portland, San Francisco and and San Diego.

Despite its smaller scale, GetAround offers some interesting features that set it apart. Owners who register their vehicles have the option to get the GetAround CarKit installed in their vehicles for free. The CarKit is similar to the technology used by Zipcar in its fleet. It allows for the vehicle to locked and unlocked remotely, tracked via GPS and even immobilized, if required.

The CarKit eliminates the need for the renter and owner to meet in order to exchange keys and scores major convenience points from everyone involved. GetAround also offers 24/7 roadside assistance and customer support and a comprehensive insurance that includes liability, collision, property damage, and uninsured motorist protection.

Getaround also has a two-way rating system designed to surface community perspectives about the cars available for rent, and the people renting them.


Have you rented a vehicle from RelayRides, GetAround or a similar service? Please share your perspective in the comment below.

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Hourly Car Rentals Make Ditching Your Car Easier Than Ever Before


According to the latest Your Driving Costs report - the annual study conducted by AAA since 1950, the cost of car ownership in the US is over $9,000 per year. This reflects an increase of almost 2% over last year's numbers, primarily due to a whopping 11.26% increase in car maintenance cost. With the rising cost of gas, parking, maintenance and great public transportation options in some major cities, more and more people are picking the car-free option. But, as the Zipcar commercial cleverly puts it, sometimes you just need a car. Whether you're stocking up on groceries, planning a day of furniture shopping or simply running errands around the town, there are times a car comes in handy. While Zipcar is the pioneer in the hourly car rental business, traditional rental car companies are taking notice of this growing trend and are stepping up their game. This is great news because we now have more options than ever before. Here are some of the top picks for hourly car rentals -

Zipcar


Zipcar was the first to see a market for hourly car rentals, especially in urban centers with excellent  public transportation options like Boston, New York and Washington DC. Zipcar launched it's service back in 2000 and experienced rapid growth. Recent numbers show that they have over 800,000 members and nearly 10,000 vehicles in over 5 countries. Zipcar was recently acquired by the Avis Budget Group, which is expected to help Zipcar improve its service and scale.

Hertz 24/7


Hertz noticed the growth of the hourly car rental business and was rumored to be interested in buying Zipcar at one point, but later decided to build their own hourly car rental business from the ground up. Launched in Dec 2008, the Hertz version of Zipcar has gone through a few avatars - formerly known as Connect by Hertz and Hertz on Demand. It is now being branded as Hertz 24/7. The service is currently available in seven countries - U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, Spain, France and Australia and is growing rapidly. Hertz plans to offer the 24/7 service at over 2000 locations by the end of the year.

Enterprise Car Share


Not to be outdone, Enterprise jumped into the hourly rental business by acquiring Mint Cars On Demand, PhillyCarShare and WeCar to create Enterprise Car Share. While the hourly car rental locations are currently limited, with over 5500 neighborhood locations, Enterprise already has tremendous physical presence in the U.S. It's only a matter of time before they have a substantial number of locations offering the hourly car rental service.