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How Zalyn Works

The Problem

There are many ways to save money on rental cars & experts agree that one the best ways is to use a coupon. However, while its pretty easy to find a coupon that'll save you a few dollars, it is incredibly hard to find the best deal among hundreds of coupons. This is because

The Solution

Just like you, we (at Zalyn) have been stumped by the bewildering array of coupons & discounts out there and have wasted countless hours pretty much getting nowhere. We soon realized that randomly applying every discount code we could get our hands on was not a very effective strategy. So, we decided to tackle this problem by coming up with a better strategy -
We built Zalyn around this strategy to give everyone a great chance at finding the best rental car deal on their own, without all the hard work.

Finding coupons & discounts

There's a ton of car rental coupons & discounts out there. In order to find the best car rental deal, we need to start off with the most comprehensive list of coupons & discounts. There are primarily two kinds of coupons and discounts based on the target audience. These include,
  1. Discounts for everyone: Published by rental car companies on their own website and sent out via email & social media to their subscribers.
  2. Affinity discounts: Exclusive discounts reserved for members of certain associations, corporations, clubs & groups. 

Affinity Discounts

Affinity discounts are typically better than the discounts available to the general public. Car rental companies partner with other organizations & offer exclusive discounts to their members, like
  • Associations:  AAA, AARP, NEA, NRA, USAA, etc
  • Discount programs: ABN, Veterans Advantage, etc
  • Wholesale clubs: BJs Cub, Costco
  • Credit cardholders: Amex, Mastercard, Visa, etc
  • Occupation: Government employees, First responders, Students, etc
  • Loyalty programs: American AAdvantage, Southwest RapidRewards, Hilton HHonors, etc
The best part about affinity discounts is that even if you don't qualify for any discounts, you can always signup for the airline & hotel loyalty programs for free & avail the discounts.

Rope 'em in

Now that we know about the different coupons & discounts available to us, we need to bring them in so you can find them easily, in one place. This is done in two ways
  1. By Zalyn: Every single day, we go out & check every rental car company's website and that of the dozens of affinity discounts that we currently support to see if something new popped up.
  2. By Users: We're have a thriving community of engaged users that contribute coupons & discounts that we're unable to find.
Every coupon added to Zalyn is considered unverified and it does not show up in other people's search results. We verify new coupons & when its done, the coupon is considered verified. At this time, it starts to show up in other people's searches. Verifying coupons is an important step to ensure you're able to find all legitimate discounts as easily as possible, while at the same time preventing inadvertent use of affinity discounts that don't apply to you.

Lay 'em out

When you run a search on Zalyn, we search through all the coupons available to the general public. In order to include affinity discounts in your search results, you need to signup for a free Zalyn account and help us figure out which discounts apply to you. While you're at it, we'll even tell you which affinity discounts are available to you with a free signup. Once you're done, we'll start to include all applicable affinity discounts in all of your searches.

Evaluating Terms & Conditions

While its great to have access to so many legitimate coupons & discounts, we need to figure out a way to trim the list down to a more manageable size. After all, its a lot of work to check discounted rates for hundreds of coupons.

Now, most people know that you're eligible to use a coupon if and only if you meet all the terms & conditions. This means, what you really need is a list of coupons that you qualify for. The only problem is that important qualifying requirements are typically hidden deep within the fineprint and finding & evaluating these requirements on your own is a lot of work.

The good news is that Zalyn can do this for you. When you enter your rental info & hit search, Zalyn scans through the fineprint for each & every coupon, evaluating terms & conditions against your rental details to see if you qualify. To understand how this works, take a look at how we analyze this coupon in a bunch of different scenarios

Scenario Match? Why?
Midsize car
at Chicago (ORD)
from 4/1- 4/10
Requires Weekend Rental
Midsize car
at Chicago (ORD)
from 4/1 - 4/2
Min. 3-day rental required, Sat night keep required
at Chicago (ORD)
from 4/1 - 4/2
Only valid on Midsize - Fullsize cars
Midsize car
at New York (JFK)
from 4/1 - 4/4
Not valid in New York Area
Fullsize car
from Los Angeles (LAX)
to San Diego (SAN)
from 4/1 - 4/4
Not valid on one-way rentals
Fullsize car
at San Francisco (SFO)
from 4/1 - 4/4
All requirements met

In most cases, this trims the list down to about a third of all available coupons & it only takes a few seconds! 

Ranking & Sorting

Now that we have a fine-tuned list of qualifying coupons for your rental, its time to go a step further & identify the most promising ones. This is because even though we're down to a fraction of the coupons we started with, we may still be looking at dozens of coupons. The other reason is that coupons are finicky and don't always work (even if you meet all terms & conditions), so we're still likely to run into a few that don't work.

To get the best return for the effort we put in, it makes sense to start with the coupon that has the best chance of giving us the lowest price. If it doesn't work, we move on to the second-best one and so on. To do this, we rely on two parameters

Potential Discount

We calculate the potential discount for each coupon based on the discount being offered and the current retail rate of the rental vehicle. To explain this further, lets say you're looking for a Fullsize car for 4 days and we found a car at Hertz for $45/day. We also found a number of Hertz coupons that're applicable. Here's how we figure out the potential discount
  • Save $15 on your rental: This is simple - you'll save $15 
  • Save $5/day upto $30 on your rental: $5 x 4 (rental days) = $20 
  • Enjoy a free rental day: 1 x $45 (daily rate) = $45 
  • Save 10% on your rental: $45 (daily rate) x 4 (rental days) x 10/100 (10% discount)= $18 
  • Save upto 30%:  This is a little tricky, since the actual percentage discount varies from rental to rental. So, we dig into historical data to see how much others saved and use it to figure out the discount rate you're likely to get. So, we'll probably end up with something like this - $45 (daily rate) x 4 (rental days) x 15/100 (15% est. discount)= $27

Success Rate

Coupons are finicky & may not work, even if you meet all requirements. Some are more finicky than others, so we keep track of when they work and when they don't. While most coupon websites track coupon success rates, we believe our rating is way better because we only track success rate *after* ensuring that all requirements have been met. In addition, we use other factors like rental location, time of the year, etc to determine the success rate. This is because, a coupon that consistently worked for Chicago rentals but not Manhattan rentals has a higher chance of success in Chicago.

Using these two parameters, we assign a rank to every qualifying coupon and use it to sort your search results so you start off with the one most likely to get you the lowest price.

Comparing Discounted Rates

You're now looking at your search results - a ranked list of coupons & rental vehicles that are most likely to get you the lowest price. This is where you need to step in & check discounted rates using different coupons to find the best deal. This is required because,
  1. The ranking is an estimate, not a guarantee of discount.
  2. Coupons are finicky, so they may not work or save you less than estimated.
We recommend that you check at least the top 5-10 coupons to increase your odds of finding the best deal. You may also want to check out tips on getting through your search results effectively. Lastly, don't forget to take advantage of coupon stacking wherever possible.

Checking discounted rates

Now, checking discounted rates is rather cumbersome & we've tried to solve this problem by using what is called a deep-link
A deep-link is a link (url) that points to a specific page (rather than the home page) and typically includes contextual information, which allows the targeted website to send you further along their multi-step checkout process to minimize the effort (clicks and keystrokes) needed to complete the checkout faster.
By using a deep-link, we're able to send you as far into the booking process as possible, so you can see the discounted rate with just the click of a button. To create a deep-link, we need to know
  • Your rental details (mandatory)
  • Your vehicle selection (optional, but takes you much further)
  • Your coupon (optional, if you want to lookup discounted rates) 

When you're on the search results page & want to check the discounted rate using a coupon, simply hit the APPLY button. When you do this, we'll lookup all the relevant details, build a deep link (whenever possible) and then send you out to a booking site. Notice the $381 that has been striked out - it indicates that the retail price of that vehicle is $381 and you're likely to get it cheaper using the coupon ($93 estimated discount).

On the booking site, you'll see the final discounted price using the coupon. In this example, you can see the retail price of $381 has been striked out and the discounted price is $271.

When you return to Zalyn, be sure to share your feedback for the coupon you just used. This'll help us keep track of the discounted rate you found. Continue to check the discounted rate for other coupons and when you're done, you can easily go back to the best deal.