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How to track car rental rates?

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

We checked the rental rate for an Economy car at a major car rental company at a large US airport 106 days before pickup. Then, we re-checked the rate every single day until the pickup date. Here's how the rate varied over time.

Its no secret that car rental rates change often, but no one can predict when (or if) they'll rise or fall & by how much. Most car rental companies use yield management software that automatically vary rental rates based on demand & supply to maximize revenue. That's why most travel experts recommend that you re-run your search whenever possible, to see if a better rate is available. Since you can book a rental car without an upfront payment & cancel anytime without penalty, you're free to jump onto a better deal at any time. But, this is easier said than done!

The Problem

Most of us have busy lives and despite our best efforts, we may struggle to find time to re-run our car rental search periodically. Even those of us who find time, may run out of patience when they don't see any rate drop after a few attempts.

It is also important to note that in most cases, the lowest rate for each rental vehicle is not the standard rate, but a discounted rate based on a coupon or a discount code. This means that can't simply check just the standard rate, but you also need to consider the numerous discounted rates available to you. As you can imagine, this is a lot of work to do every single time!

The Solution - Track your rental with Zalyn

Track your rental with Zalyn and we'll re-run your search periodically, apply discounts & send you the best rates by email. We even look for stackable coupons to see if we can make a good deal  better. Tracking is only available to registered Zalyn users (signup for free!) because
  • We need your email address to send you the tracking report for your rental
  • We need to know which affinity discounts apply to you

Some of the best car rental deals are available to members of certain associations, groups & clubs. These discounts are called affinity discounts. Most people qualify for more than a few affinity discounts, but even if you don't there are plenty of affinity discounts that're available after a quick & free signup (e.g. frequent flyer & reward programs) so there's no reason to miss out!

From time to time, we may recommend one or more (free to signup) affinity discounts that may improve your chances of scoring a better deal.

How to setup tracking?

  • Login to your Zalyn account
  • Go to your Discounts page to ensure its up-to-date
  • Go to the home page. Enter your rental location & dates & hit search
  • You'll notice a Track your Rental section at the top of your search results page
  • Hit the toggle button to enable tracking

Tracking report

We'll monitor your rental all the way upto your pickup date. Please note that rates tend to vary a lot more at busy airport locations than at neighborhood locations. Generally speaking,
  • Rates are flat more than 90 days from the pickup date
  • Rates show a gradual downward trend with a few spikes leading upto the pickup date.
  • There's an upward trend in the last week leading upto the pickup date.
  • Most coupons & discounts are available in the last 45-60 days to the pickup date.
We send you a tracking report whenever we re-check your rental. The tracking report has the 3 cheapest rental options for each vehicle type available for your rental location & dates. This allows you to very quickly glance at the best available options & figure out if a better deal is available.

A better deal isn't always the lowest price. Some people upgrade to a better vehicle if its cheaper than before. Similarly, some people upgrade to a better rental agency even though its not the cheapest. Sometimes the price difference (between what they want vs what's cheapest) is just too great when they first book a rental. As rates fluctuate, their preferred vehicle/rental agency may now only be slightly more expensive than their current booking, so they're inclined to jump over.

Customize your tracking report

If you're looking for the cheapest set of wheels, you won't need to customize your report. However, if you prefer to rent only with certain rental agencies or want to exclude some for any reason (e.g discount & regional brands), you can set your rental agency preferences. Similarly, if you're looking for a specific type of vehicle like a Minivan or SUV, or want to exclude certain vehicle types that don't meet your rental needs, you can set your vehicle preference & customize your tracking report to match your needs.

To set your preferences, simply click the set your preferences link in your tracking report email.

Customize email notification

Car rental rates rise & fall based on demand & supply. No one knows when they'll rise and by how much. That's why we recommend that you book a cancelable rental as soon as possible (even if you don't like the rate). By booking a rental, you'll secure the rate. As you move closer to your pickup date, if rates fall you can always re-book your rental and cancel the previous one without penalty. However, if rates don't fall but rise instead, you'll still have your original rate.

After you've booked a rental, you may want to receive your tracking report only if a cheaper rate is available. You can do this by setting the booking amount of your current booking by clicking the set booking amount link in your tracking report email.

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