The best car rental companies with the cheapest prices! Use these 5 websites to search, compare, and book your rental car to make sure you grab the best deal anywhere in the world. This article also explains insurance coverage and extras to add on to your car rental reservation (and lets you know if you actually need them or not).
If you’ve already read our article with the 13 Most Incredible Road Trips in the World, you’ll know that a trip done by car can get you to some pretty awesome places that just aren’t accessible any other way – whether by bus, train, or plane.
And for many road trips, you’ll need to rent a vehicle to explore. No matter what model you choose (economical, van, 4×4, convertible), there are many options for car rental companies around the world. Such as Avis, Europcar, Hertz, Budget, Alamo, and Enterprise…
But if you don’t have the time to search on each of these individual company websites, here are the 5 best car rental websites to compare prices. These sites will definitely help you find some cheap car rentals.
Each website will give you results from all of the car rental companies on the market, making it easier for you to rent a vehicle since car hire comparison takes time. But with these websites, you can compare a bunch of car rental companies and prices at the same time.
And…what are the best websites to search for and compare car rental prices?
Here they are:
Priceline – www.priceline.com
Payment: in US dollars or in the local currency if you pay when you arrive at the rental place
Cancellation policy: free most of the time up to several days before trip (though not for the “Name Your Own Price” tool)
Prices: usually the cheapest, but doesn’t have any sort of insurance
I like to use Priceline because they have great prices and it lets you compare several around the world at the same time.
Another cool feature is the “Name Your Own Price” tool. With the tool, you can say how much to want to pay to rent a car.
Here’s how the “Name Your Own Price” tool works:
You search for a normal car rental quote such as, for example, a pick-up from the Miami airport to use for 2 days.
Now, imagine that the lowest option given was 30 dollars per day. But instead of paying those 30 dollars, you decide you want to pay just 25 dollars.
You type in your 25 dollars and the website will “test” your offer, seeing if it is either accepted or rejected. If your offer is too low and thus rejected, you’ll have to wait 24 hours before you can try again with a slightly higher price. If it’s accepted, then you have your car!
The only problem with being able to make an offer for the lowest price is that you can’t choose the company that you’ll rent from. You can just choose the type of vehicle (economy, sedan, medium, van, etc…)
Another important thing to know is that in order to give an offer, you’ll have to put in your credit card information.
If your offer is accepted, your card will be debited instantly. In other words, there won’t be a way to change or cancel or reservation without losing money. I still think it’s worth using, though, because you’ll definitely find the cheapest prices and best car rental deals!
I’ve used this method many times because, at least for me, the rental cars companies are all the same as long as they have the type of vehicle I chose. But rest assured, if you put in a “mid-size sedan,” you’ll get a “mid-size sedan,” you just won’t know the company or the specific model….but it does make car rental comparison much faster and cheaper.
And then you’ll just pick the car up from the designated place as usual.
I’ve been able to rent cars for as low as 12 dollars per day in a place like Nashville! It will be difficult to find cheap car hire deals such as this one with regular companies.
You can also go through the same “Name Your Own Price” process on Priceline with hotels and plane tickets. You can read more about this on our pages about finding the best accommodation for your trip and 16 tips to find cheap flights.
And don’t forget you can also use Priceline to rent cars normally, without using the “Name Your Own Price” tool.
Rentalcars – www.rentalcars.com
Payment: sometimes pre paid, sometimes only pay at time of car pickup
Cancellation policy: free cancellations and changes
Prices: extremely competitive, one of the cheapest. But also without any insurance
Rentalcars is from the same group as Booking.com. In other words, one of the biggest travel reservations sites in the world.
Personally, I’ve found Rentalcars to be one of the cheapest car rental options. Ideal if you are looking for a budget car rental. Plus, they’re worldwide!
Rentcars.com – www.rentcars.com
Payment: with a credit card online in your currency or at the rental place in the local currency
Cancellation policy: free if you haven’t prepaid by credit card. If you’d prepaid, a fee of 5% will be charged
Prices: in general, a little on the high side, but the prices already include all the extras
If you take a look at the search results for all the car hire, you’ll notice that the prices for Rentcars are higher. But this is because Rentcars already includes all the extra insurance coverage (CDW + THW + TPL) in the prices they show you. I’ll explain more about these insurance fees below.
And remember that these other websites won’t include these XXX in the final prices (but they can be added on).
AutoEurope – www.autoeurope.com
Payment: prepay online in the local currency
Cancellation policy: free up to 48 hours before pick up. Same with changes to reservation
Prices: the cheapest prices you’ll find for renting cars in Europe
Don’t let the word “Europe” in the name fool you. You can rent cars for almost any destination worldwide with AutoEurope.
But their specialty is definitely Europe since you can find at AutoEurope a lot of cheap rental cars for this region. Which means they have the cheapest prices I found for renting cars on the European continent!
But be careful! These super low prices don’t include any insurance coverage, such as CDW or TW (again, you can read more about these codes below). So this potential risk is up to you.
Expedia – www.expedia.com
Payment: no advance payment. You make the reservation online and pay when you pick up the car at the rental place
Cancellation policy: free up to 72 hours before pickup
Prices: a little bit higher, but there are discounts so it’s worth searching
In case you don’t feel comfortable renting cars from companies that you don’t know, you can choose to search a car for rent on Expedia. It’s one of the largest travel companies in the world and focuses on car rentals, hotels, plane tickets, cruises, and travel packages.
GoEuro – www.goeuro.com
If you’re traveling in Europe and you still don’t know what the best type of transportation is for you to use there, take a look at GoEuro.
So if Europe makes up part of your trip, GoEuro is a great tool to have in your pocket!
Things to pay attention to when renting a car:
- Type of vehicle: mini, economic, compact, medium, truck, premium, luxury, convertible, minivan, SUV, van, sports, electric, hybrid, etc…
- Rental company: for me, they’re really all the same!
- Mileage: unlimited or not.
- Automatic or manual: in general, the car will be automatic in the United States and Canada and manual in Europe. But it’s always good to check.
- Age: depending on the country and the rental company, you’ll pay extra if the driver is less than 25 years old or more than 70. Check this info in your search results.
- Second driver: this also depends on the company, see if insurance covers if there’s more than one driver.
- Driver’s license of the driver: you can use the driver’s license from your home country in most countries around the world. But there are exceptions like Taiwan, South Korea, and a few other places that require an international driver’s license.
- Cancellation policy: already mentioned above
- Extras: young drivers, GPS, child seat, bike or ski/snowboard rack, etc…
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT RENTAL CAR INSURANCE IN CASE OF THEFT OR ACCIDENTS!!
Finally, one of the most important things you need to pay attention to when renting a car is the type of insurance it comes with.
Normally, there are 3 main types of coverage that most rental car places will try to push on you when you pick up your car. If you accept the insurance, this will increase your final rental price. (And they often aren’t necessary.)
Here’s a quick description of each of code for rental car insurance coverage:
CDW – Collision Damage Waiver
This covers the cost of vehicle damage in case of an accident. It protects you by transferring the responsibility of the damage cost from you to the rental company.
Most international credit cards give you this coverage for free if you pay for your entire rental car with it. So, this coverage is one that you can almost certainly decline if the rental company attendant tries to push it on you.
Just check if your credit card has this benefit. The CDW from credit cards also covers theft!
THW / TW / TPC – Theft Waiver
This excludes you from a big part of the responsibility if your rental car is stolen or an attempt was made to steal the car.
To be honest with you, most of the time I decline this coverage if I know I’m going to be driving in a ‘safe’ place where the risk of having a car stolen is really low.
Also, the CDW from a credit card normally covers this as well.
TPL – Third Party Liability
This covers medical expenses for injured third parties and/or damage to something else outside the rented vehicle (another vehicle, for example).
Truthfully, this is a good coverage to have. But sometimes this type of coverage is already included in your travel insurance. So take a look at your policy.
Tips for an awesome road trip!
- Bring a water bottle
You never know when you’ll be driving in the middle of nowhere without a store in sight. Staying hydrated is good for you and sipping on the water will help keep you awake while driving.
- Have food nearby
Just as with water, it’s always good to have food at hand to give your body energy and keep those eyes open. Aim for something healthy with a low glycemic index because, if you eat something like sweets while driving, you’ll be left feeling sleepy after a short spike in energy.
To know more about how you can save on food and drink while traveling, take a look at this article.
- Prepare some good entertainment
There’s nothing better than driving with some good music. So, prepare your collection, charge your phone or iPod, and combine that perfect blend of music and roadside scenery.
Also, consider looking into audiobooks. Whether you are a fan of fiction, politics, or history, listening to an audiobook is a great way to pass those long hours on the road. As well as podcasts….
- Chat with your passengers
In case you don’t have music or an audiobook, a good conversation with the other passengers will really help on a long trip.
- Know the rules of the road
All countries have different rules for driving on the road. At the very least, know the speed limit and especially what side of the road you’ll need to drive on (I’m talking to you, UK, Australia, New Zealand, etc.). So, do your research before so you can respect these local laws, stay safe, and avoid a ticket.
- Have a paper map alongside your GPS
I know that these days basically everyone has a GPS or that you can rent one along with the car. But you never know when it’ll stop working or bring you to the “end of the world!” So, I recommend you also have a paper map or guide as a backup in case you need it. As an alternative, you can check your trip itinerary on Google Maps before your trip and then print it.
- See if you’ll need an International Driver’s License
For many countries, you can rent a car with your license from back home. For others, however, you will not be allowed to rent without an International Driver’s License. Make sure you know this beforehand so you’re not met with an unpleasant surprise when you try to pick your car up.
- Have a number to call in case anything happens
Make sure you’ve written down the local emergency numbers as well as the number of your rental agency in case there are any problems.
- Don’t forget travel insurance
I’m knocking on wood as I say this, but we always hope that no accidents happen. In case they do, it’s good to have travel insurance that’ll cover your costs. Take a look at my article about the 3 best and cheapest travel insurances on the market to learn more.
Renting a car falls in with plane tickets, accommodation, and travel insurance as one of the biggest trip costs.
So, “spending” some time researching different websites online (like 5 in this case) to find the best deal can end up saving you tens or even hundreds of dollars…so don’t feel bad “wasting” some time in front of the computer….it will be worth your while!
Well, that’s it. Any questions about renting cars? Just put them in the comment area below because I ALWAYS reply!!
And happy driving!
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