How to get a cheap rental car (2023)
Planning to rent a car for your next vacation and looking for a cheap car rental with unlimited mileage? Find out in this article how to get a cheap rental car for your next holidays !
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll be receive a commission on products if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost for you.
Having a rental car when you travel is one of the best ways to discover the country. It also gives you a certain amount of freedom in terms of the places you want to visit and the planning of your trip.
Even if traveling with a rental car is very easy, it’s sometimes complicated to figure out how to get a cheap rental car, with unlimited mileage, without losing all your hair. Having rented cars abroad several times, I’ve come up with a few tips that could be very useful to you !
How to get a cheap rental car : the ultimate guide
Use price comparators
It’s an easy way to save time by avoiding the hassle of searching all the car rental websites. It allows you to identify the company offering the best rates!
Personally, I use rentalcar.com for this, and recommend it to anyone who asks. I generally find the best deals on cheap rental cars with unlimited mileage. The great thing about rentalcar.com is that you can often cancel your reservation up to 48 hours in advance.
There are also other platforms offering this kind of comparison, such as Klook.com (mainly for Asia and Oceania), Expedia.com and Economybookings.com.
Search for promotional codes
Occasionally, some car rental companies or even car rental comparison sites offer seasonal deals. From time to time, these offers can lead to great deals on cheap car hire, with unlimited mileage!
Varying rental locations
This is my go-to option for getting a cheap rental car.
Sometimes by changing the location of the rental departure or return of the vehicle, prices can be very different. So, if at all possible, I highly recommend testing several search algorithms to see what’s the cheapest.
For example, when we rented our camper in New Zealand, there was a difference of over $1000 between returning the vehicle in Auckland or Christchurch. It didn’t take long to do the math, I assure you!
Settle for the economy version
When renting a vehicle and looking for the cheapest rental car, it’s important to make do with what’s necessary. There’s always the option of renting a larger car or a 4×4. But, depending on where you’re going or what you want to discover, these vehicle options aren’t really necessary. Find out which type of rental car is right for your stay.
To tell you the truth, during our road-trip in Namibia, we opted in the end for a Polo, which did the job very well and above all saved us a lot of money. Of course, the 4×4 would have been more comfortable on the bumpy roads. But in the end, the Polo did the trick.
Avoid unnecessary options
This point is somewhat related to the previous paragraph. If you’re really looking to get a cheap car rental, avoid unnecessary extras at all costs. By unnecessary options I mean, for example, snow chains in summer or GPS. These days, I think almost everyone has a smartphone with GoogleMaps, Vaze or Mapsme. These applications work very well and can save you a few euros/francs/dollars.
Inspect the car from every angle
When you go to pick up your rental car, there’s one step you mustn’t overlook: the initial inspection. Sometimes, rental agencies will invent damage at the end of the rental, even though it was already present when you received your vehicle.
So take photos, videos and be very precise when filling in the constant at the start of the rental. At the end of the rental, when you return your car, make sure that an employee checks the car in front of you and signs the report before you leave. This will avoid any unpleasant surprises!
Don’t forget to check the condition of the fuel tank. Often, you’ll be asked to return the vehicle with the same amount of fuel. Sometimes, according to the contract, the vehicle should be fully fuelled when you pick it up, but this isn’t always the case. So don’t hesitate to ask them to fill it up.
Find out about deposit methods
Deposits are often made by credit card. Some rental agencies don’t accept prepaid credit cards, so you’ll have to pay for additional insurance (often very expensive), or they’ll cancel the rental once you’ve arrived.
Often, this point is written in very small print in the contract, or it’s clearly stated. I strongly advise you to find out if you’re only using a prepaid credit card.
I’ve never experienced this myself. But when we rented a car in Romania, several people were unaware of this point and had to pay huge sums to be able to rent their car anyway.
Read the rental contract
Car rental contracts, especially those for low-cost vehicles, can hold a few surprises. There are a few important points to read in detail:
- mileage included in the rental
- filling regulations (return with full tank, as at departure, etc.)
- age requirements for the driver (often higher rates for young drivers)
- type and amount of deposit accepted
- hidden costs (sometimes everything is included in the price on the website, but some clever people hide certain extra costs)
Take out the necessary insurance
Often, if not always, cheap car rental companies will try to sell you multiple insurances. Sometimes these can be useful, but often we’re already insured for these services.
Before buying additional insurance, check with the various providers:
Your credit card: depending on the bank hosting your card, you may already have car rental insurance. If so, book the car with this card to be covered.
Your travel insurance: reread your contract and call them if necessary.
Independent insurance: for example, through Rentalcar.com, the insurer AXA offers cheaper insurance than the rental agency (this is the option I mainly use).
One last point: I’m by no means an insurance expert, and I’m the first to take out supplementary insurance to avoid unnecessary worries. But I have to admit that since I’ve been reading my credit card and travel insurance contracts, I’ve been able to save money on this point!
Want to support me while preparing your trip
Planning your next trip? Here are the sites I use to book my flights, hotels and tours! These affiliate links make it easy for you to make your reservations while supporting my work. And the best part is that it won’t cost you anything extra 🙂 Thank you
Booking – allows me to find great deals on accommodations
Skyscanner – The one that allows me to find the best deals for my air tickets
Get your guide – If I need a tour to book online, this site is a nugget
Rentalcar – the platform I use for all my car rentals abroad