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Get the best price on a rental car

Finding the best rate on a rental car can be a daunting task, considering the many rental agencies, car options, and hidden fees. But by becoming a well-informed consumer, you can snag that great deal. You’ve heard us say it before and we’ll say it again—to find the best value, never stop comparing prices.

If you need a rental car right away, be sure to check each agency’s last-minute specials. Most major rental companies will have a sale that is perfect for the procrastinator in all of us. But that is not to say planning ahead isn’t a good idea. For example, with Alamo, you can save 10 percent if you prepay.

Keep in mind that picking up your rental car at the airport is generally more expensive than renting from a neighborhood location. So get a quick tour of the city and save money at the same time by taking public transportation from the airport into town and picking up your car at a non-airport branch.

But if you need the convenience of getting your car right away at the airport, reserve online ahead of time to take advantage of available promotions. Generally, the sooner you can book, the more you can save because you have time to compare. Book now, and if a better deal comes along, you can always cancel it for free and reserve at the lower price.

Finding a great deal is important, but the biggest money saver is if you can get past all the hidden fees. Avoid overpaying for rental insurance by coming to the rental counter armed with information. Although you definitely need insurance, it’s likely that you can get it without paying extra. If you are renting a car in the U.S. or Canada, your regular auto insurance may cover a rental car for no extra cost, and your credit card usually covers you as well. That means you won’t need the rental company’s collision damage waiver or loss and damage waiver, which will save you up to $25 a day. Just make sure to find out ahead of time if your auto policy or credit card covers rental cars.

Have a great travel tip you’d like to share? Send your insider travel strategies to editor@smartertravel.com.

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