By Jon Mohatt (aka...Travel Brainstorm)
With lodging and air travel secured the final step in completing our Hawaii travel plans was to reserve a rental car capable of carrying five passengers and their luggage. This really meant I needed to find a SUV or van, but since vans have larger capacities, they cost much more so I concentrated my search on a mid to large SUV that seats just five so I only paid for what we needed.
My first stop when looking for a rental car is Costco Travel’s rental car “Low Price Finder” (http://www.costcotravel.com/Rental-Cars) to set the gauge for what’s a good price. If I can’t find anything lower than Costco Travel, who tends to have good rates, then I know to book with Costco Travel who I have used in the past and know works well. Below are the results from my Hawaii rental car search with Costco’s rental car search engine:
This set my search criteria for a standard size SUV at $457.24 for the week. The “standard” size was the minimum that would accommodate our family of five and our luggage.
My next step was to search directly on the rental car sites to see if they could beat the rate being offered by Costco Travel. Going directly to the rental car sites and applying any AAA or Veteran discounts that may apply, did not Weald any cheaper rates. One can search all at one time by using carrentals.com which is owned by Expedia. Below are the results from Enterprise and Hertz. Hertz proved to be the lowest price of the major rental car companies with airport locations. That’s an important item to remember when searching, alway be sure you are paying attention to the pick-up and drop-off locations or you will end up like we did in Key West and head to the airport and realize that our rental car drop-off location was not located at the airport. That produced just a little anxiety as we rushed around trying to get it dropped off and back to the airport in time.
Hertz was lower than Costco Travel so it took the lead and became our front-runner. The next, and final, step in my search was to check Kayak, Priceline and Hotwire which can all be done right from the Kayak web site. The lowest rate, by $68.09, was found on Hotwire.
As you can see from the price above they beat the Hertz price by $68.09 so we had a winner and by a good margin! The only twist with Hotwire is that you don’t know which company it is until you confirm your reservation, but you do know that it is an airport location and one of the major brands that they list for you. For us the rental ended up being Alamo. If you have a loyalty program preference, this may not be an option for you, but the price savings over our preferred program was significant enough for me to go with Hotwire.
It is important to remember that before you book your reservation be sure to check your favorite loyalty award database or shopping portal for click-through links to earn additional points or cash back. My favorite, and always my first to search, is Evreward. Below is what I found:
By going through Mr. Rebates I earned an additional 2% on this reservation and that was in addition to the 2.2% that I earned by using my BarclayCard Arrival+ Mastercard. It’s always important to maximize our points when ever possible as we don’t want to leave money on the table in any transaction. Choosing a particular loyalty program using Evreward (or your own favorite) can also help renew your point balance and reset the expiration date. This is often the easiest way to ensure your points don’t expire.
As always, happy brainstorming and safe travels!
Please remember to sign up to be notified of future blogs posts (top of right sidebar), “Like” us on Facebook and check out all my travel reviews on TripAdvisor, just search for “TravelBrainstorm” (one word)!