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Rental Cars - secret to lower prices

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Minnesota
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366 posts
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Rental Cars - secret to lower prices

When we traveled to Phoenix a few weeks ago for a wedding, we were stunned by the high price of car rental at the airport. We tried to figure out a cheaper way. Here's what we did, and it worked like a charm: When we arrived, we took the free shuttle to the light rail terminal, and headed east on the light rail to the end of the line in Mesa. Then, we called the Budget rental which is 2.4 miles from the light rail terminal (location P05 in Budget'slocation register). Bob, the owner of that Budget location, quickly arrived, and with RapidRez, we were in our rental car in a jiffy! While they did not have the upgrade we qualified for, as we were traveling at a very busy time, we had a nice little Nissan Sentra to buzz around in for a week at under $200, including tax! Another plus is that we were able to drop the car back at the airport. We figure that it saved us between $60-90, depending on the rental/cab fare/fax savings we received. Best of all, their location is on Country Club Drive, less than a mile from the Blue Adobe Grill, where we had lunch before heading to our hotel. We discovered the Blue Adobe Grill on Trip Advisor, and it did not disappoint in the least - wish we could eat there every day!

There is a closer Budget car rental, but when I called them they didn't even seem to know where the light rail was, or how they would pick us up, whereas Bob at Budget P05 knew just what we wanted. We would /will do this again when flying into Phoenix!

Tampa, FL USA
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1. Re: Rental Cars - secret to lower prices

We saved a bundle, too. Our plan was to take Transtyle to our hotel, and pick up the vehicle the next morning. Everything went very smoothly (thanks Enterprise) and we'll return at the airport having paid less than $750 for eight days in a full size SUV.

Phoenix, Arizona
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for Phoenix, Puerto Penasco
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2. Re: Rental Cars - secret to lower prices

Just to clarify for first time visitors, this worked so well for you because you were going to Mesa, if you were going to Scottsdale, Glendale, West or north Phoenix (past Christown) , lightrail would not be a viable option.

Indiana
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3. Re: Rental Cars - secret to lower prices

This only works if your timing is right. We had an early morning flight to return home. This would have required us to return the car before 5 the previous day. (offsite had limited hours) Then we would be without a car for the rest of the evening and to get back to the airport the next morning. The charge to drop off at the airport was more than the difference in price. We found that by joining whatever "club" Enterprise had, the second driver fee was waived and they gave us a free upgrade.

Cape Girardeau, Mo
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4. Re: Rental Cars - secret to lower prices

Renting offsite is always an option. But one has to weigh the cost/inconvenience of getting to the offsite rental operation, and more importantly, the hours of operation of the site. The airport rental agencies are open 24/7. Many offsite agencies are closed on weekends and have limited operating hours during the workweek. All travelers should be aware of this before booking offsite. Yes, it is a viable alternative, but only if all the stars align correctly.

tucson az
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for Tucson, Arizona, Northern Mexico
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5. Re: Rental Cars - secret to lower prices

Most car rental companies do allow you to return a car to the airport if you rent off-airport, without an additional fee, as long as it is in the same city/metro area. I have found this not to be true in only a few cities.

This strategy is what is generally recommended to find lower prices than airport rentals. I would however suggest that you make sure there is a significant difference for your specific travel dates before you create inconvenience. Rentals are not always more expensive at the airport; it depends on demand, time of year, etc.

Most car rental web sites list the locations and hours of their off-airport locations. On most web sites you can also do a comparison of airport pickup/dropoff and off-airport with return to location or airport.

Alabama
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6. Re: Rental Cars - secret to lower prices

We just returned and had a 6 day rental with Hertz for just over $400 for a Yukon full size SUV. I honestly didn't think that was THAT bad. We did the pay up front option.....we paid for the rental $306 and then at the airport we paid the taxes just over $100 or so. I thought the shuttle to and from the rental car area was fast and efficient.

Marina, California
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for Tucson
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7. Re: Rental Cars - secret to lower prices

I use Budget quite a bit, mainly because they allow this one-way rental with return to the airport, and have done so to avoid high prices while traveling to various major cities, namely Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Cleveland and Austin. From Phoenix (usually the airport though), Budget will also occasionally (I haven't worked out the logic of it) have no additional fee for return into Tucson. It's a good option.

I do want to point out that Enterprise does not allow this. Just today I picked up a rental from them in Atlanta and was told that returning to the airport (which was $75/day base for a compact) would require a $150 drop fee. Not quite equal to the $2 it costs to take the train back.

Indiana
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8. Re: Rental Cars - secret to lower prices

We always fly in and take the free shuttle to our hotel. There is a rental car desk there. We turn the car back in at the hotel and take their free shuttle back to the airport. No hassles at the airport, no shuttle to a rent a car place and MUCH cheaper without the airport taxes.

Wisconsin
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9. Re: Rental Cars - secret to lower prices

Lots of good info here. I starting posting a few months ago on this topic while planning our November trip. We're dealing with Enterprise, started in early July at $243 (it dropped a bit from our first inquiries), kept re-booking, and got it at $194 on October 7th. Today, October 22, it's up to $643.00, a $200 increase from yesterday.

We considered some of the suggestions in this post, but there are quite a few here that I hadn't thought of. For us, it was book early and keep checking and re-booking. This will be for 4 full days (Wednesday to Sunday) on a full size car. We'll be going to the Surprise area and wanted the easiest method.

Minnesota
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10. Re: Rental Cars - secret to lower prices

Actually, we were not going to Mesa. We just went there because of the rental car. We were really heading to Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort. However, it wasn't a lot out of our way, and we saved a lot of money doing so. If I was staying at Scottsdale, I'd still do exactly what we did, and then drive to Scottsdale after picking up the car.