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Step 1: Look for deals

Last-minute sales

One of the best ways to get a discount on a rental car is to wait until the last minute. Most of the major car rental companies offer last-minute deals that are only available online. Oftentimes these sales are announced within a week or two of the sale dates; check the company websites of leading car rental agencies to see what cities may have deals for that particular week.

In addition, search our last-minute Web rates database for a comprehensive list of current Internet specials. Select the city you want to rent in from the drop-down menu. When you see your search results, click on the rental company name for the restrictions and booking instructions. Please note that you must reserve your vehicle with the rental company directly, not through SmarterTravel.com. Read why we don't sell tickets.

Current sales

If you can't find a good last-minute deal in our database, or want the assurance of booking in advance, don't give up. You can often find other promotions. Visit our car section to see our current editors' picks of rental bargains and discounts. You can also browse all car deals.

To help you find a deal that's right for you, look for these types of sales:

  • Discounted rates in specific locations, such as Europe, Hawaii, or Florida (Note that the greater New York City area rarely has sales)
  • Deals on certain car sizes: compacts, midsize, full-size or luxury cars, minivans, SUVs, etc.
  • Low rates for specific models such as Dodge Neons, PT Cruisers, or Mercedes Benz
  • Special weekend rates, which tend to be lower than weekday rates
  • Bargains at airport locations or non-airport "neighborhood" locations

Affiliation discounts

If sales don't pan out, or you'd like another point of comparison, check for member discounts for which you might be eligible. For example, AAA, AARP, Student Advantage, and members of other groups can often get discounted rates or special deals when renting a car from a major car rental agency. In addition, you might get an even better rate if you use one of the special discounts for SmarterTravel.com members that we've negotiated with Budget, Hertz, and Auto Europe. For example, if you find a daily rate of $30 for a compact car at Hertz, you can use your SmarterTravel.com discount to bring that rate down to just $25.50.

Visit our member discounts page for complete details and booking codes.

Note that in many cases, the rate you find when conducting a rental search does not include taxes. Read our feature on hidden fees to get a better sense of applicable additional charges when booking a rental car.

Click here to go to our main search page for car deals. In addition, you can sign up for SmarterTravel.com free Deal Alert newsletter, which features the top sales of the week, plus the latest travel news, advice, and columns.

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