Is it Better to Rent a Car at the Last Minute?
If you’re planning to travel last-minute, you might be wondering if it’s better not to book a vehicle in advance or to wait until the airport. Car rental prices tend to fluctuate, due to demand and the desire of rental companies to rent as many vehicles as possible.
Pre-booking a car
It’s best to book your car in advance, especially during peak travel seasons. It’s better to book your car at least two months ahead of time, as large rental cars sell out faster than smaller cars.
Book a car well in advance to get the best rate. You are more likely to get a great rental car if you book in advance. Last-minute rental cars often have limited availability, which means high prices. When you book early, you can lock in a good rate and lock in a vehicle for the duration of your trip. Renting a car at an outside airport location is a better option to save money.
Book a car at the airport
While booking a car at the airport is convenient and often cheaper than waiting until the last minute, it can also be risky. Many rental companies will try to sell you a more expensive car if they can overbook. The line at the rental counter can get long, and you might not get the car that you want.
Although it may feel easy to talk with a salesperson at an airport, it can also lead to a lot pressure and sales talk. Moreover, you may be pressured into signing agreements that require you to pay additional fees. You might be asked to pay for prepaid gas. You might also be asked to buy additional insurance, even though it will only cost you more. Moreover, the salesperson can easily manipulate you into spending more than you need to.
Book a car online
You can reserve a rental car at any time, but it is better to do so in advance. It increases your chances of driving away with the car of your choosing and locks in rates before prices go up. You can also rebook without penalty if rates go down. There are even apps that monitor prices and automatically rebook you at a cheaper price.
Renting a car at the airport
It can be frustrating to rent a car at the airport. Not only will you have to wait, but you might not get your first choice. And when you finally get your rental car, you may discover additional fees and surcharges that you weren’t aware of.
However, there are ways to get a better deal at airport rental car counters. A peer-to-peer car sharing service or online travel agencies can help you save money. These companies often offer packages that include car rental. You’ll also get a better rate if your car is rented off-airport.
Last-minute car rental costs
Car rental agencies have been hit hard by a shortage of inventory, pushing prices up. The lack of inventory is putting pressure upon car rental agencies and causing a rise in the demand. Rental agencies may reposition their fleets in some cases. Other times, they’re offering last-minute deals to travelers returning from one-way trips. No matter the reason, renting an automobile at the last minute is not a good idea.
NerdWallet’s study found that renting a car last-minute can lead to a $75 increase in rental costs than booking in advance. The study also found that booking three months ahead of time will result in a 15% reduction in price. Renting a car is less expensive during quiet periods.