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How to Save on Car Rentals (And Everything Else You Need to Know)

By: Mary Elizabeth Hammond

Red car

You’re probably familiar with and the discounts you can find on hotel rooms (Remember those Captain Obvious commercials?), but did you know that they also offer discounts on car rentals? The ongoing rental car shortage has led to limited availability and sky-high prices. So check out car rentals when you’re comparison shopping for your next trip.

Be sure to browse the Groupons Coupons coupons page before booking to ensure you’re getting the best deal. 

Ways to Save With Rental Cars

Make sure you get the biggest bang for your buck when you book a car rental with these saving tips. Mystery Cars  

If you’re flexible on what kind of vehicle you’re driving—’s Mystery Cars can save you a pretty penny. These deals will let you know which car rental brand you’re booking, but the type of car is not revealed until pickup. Mystery Car deals are the lowest prices you’ll find on car rentals. See below for an example of what you look for: Mystery Car Rentals

Pay Now and Save

Some rental cars will give you the option to book now and pay at the pickup counter, while others will give you the option to pay now and save. Paying when you book will get you a better discount (most are between 8% and 25% off). If you choose the pay now option, you can pay using a gift card. If you want to pay later, you’ll need to pay via credit/debit card at the pickup counter. Some reservations may also allow for payment in installments—if it’s available, you’ll see the option while booking. 

Hand unlocking a blue car

What to Know About Rental Cars

Booking a rental car through a third party isn’t very different from going through the rental car company itself—except you can save some money. But there are a few important things to note. Here’s some good to know info: 

Plan on Leaving a Deposit

When picking up your rental car, you may be required to leave a deposit (this will depend on the policy of the car rental company, but it’s pretty common). The amount will vary based on the rental company and the car. The deposit covers any potential damages (not covered by insurance), toll fees, and fuel. When you pick up your rental car, it will have a full tank of gas. If you don’t return it with a full tank of gas, you’ll be charged. Usually, car rental agencies charge significantly higher rates than you’ll find at the pump, so be sure to swing by a gas station before returning your rental to avoid this charge. 

Insurance Coverage is Optional and Costs Extra 

A car rental booking does not include insurance coverage, but it is available … at an additional cost. It’s optional, but if you chose to forgo coverage you will be liable for the full value of the car in the case of theft or damage. Insurance coverage can be purchased when you book online (you’ll be prompted to choose or opt out during checkout) or at the rental desk during pickup. 

Add a GPS, Car Seat, or Rack to Your Rental

Get everything you need in your rental car: add on GPS, a car seat, or a ski rack to your reservation for an additional charge. You can add these extras on during checkout and they’ll be waiting when you pick up the car. Cancellation Policy rental cars (and hotels) have a pretty flexible cancellation policy—most reservations can be cancelled. When searching for a rental car on, look for the Free Cancellation checkmark before you book. Any reservation with the Free Cancellation checkmark allows you to get a full refund if you cancel prior to the 24 hours before your reservation. If you cancel within 24 hours of your reservation, you will receive a full refund minus $59. (If your booking is less than $59, you will not receive a refund.) Find the full policy here

Find additional deals and saving tips for on here.