Tips for Saving Money on Rental Cars This Holiday Season, According to AAA

Beyond booking early, travelers are encouraged to opt for alternate airports and sharing their flight details with their rental car company.

As travel plans for the holidays begin to get locked in, those looking for rental cars may not only want to start the booking process now, but also keep a few other factors in mind for the best price and least amount of stress.

Booking early and locking in good rates is one of the best ways to save money on a rental car during the busy holiday season, according to AAA, however ravelers can also look for alternative pick-up destinations and share information like flight details to protect their rental reservations.

“Waiting until the last minute is risky,” AAA warns. “Rates are often more expensive the closer you get to your desired rental date. Added bonus: when you reserve with plenty of time, you may be offered a pre-pay option that includes a discount. Cancellation fees may apply, though, so check with the company first.”

AAA also recommends air travelers who are renting at an airport share their flight number, airline, and estimated time of arrival with the rental company when booking their vehicle. This way, if their flight is delayed (which is not out of the realm of possibility this holiday season), the rental reservation will be protected.

Fast moving SUV on a highway

Douglas Sacha/Getty Images

But the company warns airports are some of the busiest pick-up locations during the festive season, and that can be especially true in popular Thanksgiving destinations like Orlando, Anaheim, and Atlanta. That’s why travelers should consider alternative pick-up spots in the same cities.

“During the busy holiday season, airport car rental locations may be crowded and low on inventory. You may have better luck renting from a neighborhood branch,” AAA wrote in its advisory. “And check with the rental company: it may even offer a free pickup service.”

Travelers who sign up to become AAA members can potentially save even more since AAA travel agents offer free help to members as well as discounts and bundled travel options. In fact, the company said AAA members receive up to 20% off base rates at Hertz car rental locations along with other perks like one free child safety seat and waiving certain fees like those for young renters.

A basic membership subscription costs $40.60 per year.

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