The best way to make sure you don’t share the savings with an air carrier or a booking network is to go direct to a general site such as one listed above or the web sites of car rental operators. All the major brands have on-line booking facilities on their sites and most of them offer reduced rates for pre-bookings.
It’s worth doing some surfing - unless of course, you belong to a loyalty program – to find the best rates and deals. If you leave arranging your rental car until you disembark, you’ll walk down the row of rental company booths and, within a few bucks, all the prices will be the same. That’s not the case when you book on line - they’re all different and, more to the point, they all have different ways of working out the extras. It’s worth making sure you know exactly what you’re going to be charged for - does the fee include CDW, mileage, a tank full gas etc.? CDW? If you’re not used to renting cars, you need to be a little careful. Quite often there’ll be bits of jargon you don’t understand and if for example there is a mileage charge, you need to take that into account. At even 5c a mile, a big charge can suddenly show up on your card statement if you don’t watch out for it.
A free upgrade is a nice thing to be had. You get a more comfortable car but there is a downside. Gas isn’t as cheap as it used to be and a premium 4 door vehicle uses a lot more of it than does a subcompact – those extra dollars will come from your travel budget.
Once your rental has been confirmed you will still need to iron out a few details such as gas choices and insurance. If you already have car insurance there is no need to duplicate coverage by electing (and paying for it) it through your rental agent. Be sure to identify all drivers of the rental and finally, consider fueling options carefully. Some companies allow you to prepay refueling costs and return the car empty. You also have the option of refueling the car yourself. If you elect to skip prepaying and return the car with a full tank of gas be sure to honor that arrangement as the rental company will charge upwards of $7.00 to refuel the tank you left empty.