Step 2: Shop around

If you still can't find a good bargain, search for rates offered by the major car rental companies or online travel agencies. Unfortunately, there is no one place—online or off-line—that will always have the best deals. Search our Yellow Pages for a list of car rental websites and reservation phone numbers. Online travel agencies to try include Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity.

You can also check our price-comparison tool to compare prices simultaneously at multiple car rental companies. Select your desired city or enter your airport code, then enter the dates you need a rental car. When all your travel information has been entered, click on the individual provider boxes to compare prices.

Based on our research, here are the low-end base rates you're likely to find on various car classes:

  • economy (such as a Chevrolet Aveo): $16 per day, or $118 per week
  • compact (such as a Ford Focus): $17 per day, or $124 per week
  • mid-size (such as an Oldsmobile Alero): $18 per day, or $138 per week
  • full-size (such as a Buick Century): $19 per day, or $145 per week
  • SUV (such as a Ford Explorer): $43 per day, or $272 per week
  • convertible (such as a Chevrolet Camaro): $80 per day, or $425 per week
  • minivan (such as a Mercury Villager): $71 per day, or $340 per week
  • luxury (such as a Buick Park Avenue): $69 per day, or $190 per week

The actual rate you pay may be higher, depending on your choice of provider, location, and rental dates. In addition, you'll need to pay various car rental taxes and fees that aren't included in the listed rates. But these prices can be a useful benchmark that will tell you when you've found a good deal.

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