Summer is here! And maybe you feel like the lyrics from Willie Nelson’s classic song “On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again.” Ok, Willie is too old school for you? He might be, but his lyrics sure do express how we all feel about society reopening post-pandemic. Whether you are planning a summer vacation or have already planned your vacation, one of the biggest challenges and costs will be how you get to your destination. Will you be traveling by airline or renting a vehicle? Since summer is not only a time for budgeting your vacation travels, but also includes relocation for many students entering college, let’s talk about some of the things those of you getting back on the road again should consider.
Basic Standard Question
Let’s assume you are deciding between flying or driving. A basic standard question should be, what measures or protections does the airline or rental company have in place to protect you from contracting or spreading the coronavirus? For example, some car rental companies sanitize their vehicles after every rental use, while others have a twenty-four hour waiting period in place before the rental vehicle is available for use. All I’m suggesting is to know the company’s COVID-19 policy before you get back on the road again.
Not Shorter But Longer
Typically, when renting a vehicle we think in terms of days or exact periods. This may not be smart economics. If you need a vehicle for five days consider renting for a week. The total weekly cost may not be far off from the total cost of renting for five days. This is because business rental customers are not as price sensitive as a regular consumer. Which means, there may be more vehicle options for you to choose from.
When choosing to rent longer and not shorter you also want to consider the day you pick up the rental and from which location. In general, you may pay less if you pick up a rental on Friday as opposed to Monday, and from a local rental facility rather than from the airport.
Finally, in thinking longer not shorter, you want to consider picking up the rental a few days prior to leaving town. This may allow you to qualify for that cheaper weekly rate and not for the exact five days for which you might actually be out of town. Conversely, you could retain the vehicle for a few days after you return from your trip in order to qualify for the weekly or longer rate. Why not? Make some local distance trips upon your return if it cuts down on your rental fee. Retaining the vehicle before or after your trip could also provide the advantage of not adding extra miles to your personal vehicle thereby helping it to retain its resale value.
Two One Way
While this is not your traditional approach, in some cases you could benefit from renting one way each way. Depending on where you are going, rental companies may be offering lower rental rates for those with a one-way destination. Why? Well for example, a rental company may be looking to move some or all of their rental vehicles from Florida back up to the Northeast. Translation! You could get a cheap one way rental rate. Search for one way rentals from Budget, Hertz or other companies at www.transfercarus.com.
Who and Where
Most people choose from major car rental companies. Typically, these companies do not offer the lowest rate. What’s important for you to know is that there are discount rental car companies whose rates are sometimes between 15 percent and 30 percent lower than the major rental companies. You may want to consider companies like Payless Car Rental or Fox Rent a Car. However, take into account both the advantages and disadvantages of renting from these companies. They may come with drawbacks such as the quality of the vehicles or even the quality of the service. I still think they are worth considering, particularly if you can save a few hundred bucks.
If you search for rentals through an aggregator such as Expedia or Kayak just know that you may have limited options when it comes to cancellation or upgrades. The best thing you can do is to use the aggregator for pricing. After you’ve taken note of the numbers go to the company website directly and see if those prices are available or use them to negotiate your price.
I have decided to add a new section to #MoneyMonday called “what’s up!” This section will share something very important that I think you should be aware of that may or may not be related to the main article. Today’s “what’s up!” is that three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) have agreed to provide free credit reports to consumers weekly at www.annualcreditreport.com until April 20, 2022. That’s what’s up!