We booked our fall getaway trip to Oahu back in the summer. I came across a low fare deal to Hawaii, and I figured it’d give us an opportunity to visit our niece and her family in Kaneohe. She had just given birth to a baby girl, and we’ve been meaning to visit them.Once I booked our trip tickets to Hawaii, I immediately booked our car rental.
TIP: DO NOT WAIT. Book the rental ahead of time. At the time of this writing, there has been a shortage of car rental due to the pandemic and this shortage drove the rates up. So it’s best to try and book early and secure the lowest rate possible.
1. Use a discount code (i.e. corporate discount code)
For this trip, I used a discount code that I was able to use for leisure trips. I booked directly with Hertz, entered my discount code, and for a rental of 7 days in the month of October/November, I was able to book a medium-sized sedan for $338.87. To be honest, I was quite happy with that rate. My last rental during our trip to Maui (for 10 days), I was quoted between $700 all the way up to $3000. And at the time, my $700 rate during our Maui trip had dramatically changed, but here’s how a little piece of paper saved the day – How a little printout saved me over $1,700 on my Hawaii car rental. This was the reason why I was already satisfied with a $338 rate with my Hertz booking.
TIP: If you do not have any discount code to use, if you’re a Costco member, try using their website and book from there. For Hawaii, try discounthawaiicarrental.com – another reputable site that we’ve used for many years with very competitive rates.
2. What about Turo
Think of Turo as your non-traditional car rental. You don’t rent from huge companies such as Hertz, or Avis, or Enterprise. Think of Turo as the AirBNB of car rentals. You are renting someone else’s personal vehicle. It’s a way for folks like you and I to earn extra money on the side. And what’s the most attractive feature? Many are finding more reasonable rates with Turo vehicles than the vehicles from the typical car rental companies. I have not had my personal experience with Turo but have seen quite a few good stories and nightmares with renting with Turo. Here’s Meghan’s nightmare – TWO of Turo’s reputable hosts cancelled on her at the last minute.
This is not to say that what happened to Meghan could happen to you, but I just want to make sure you know of these situations that have taken place.
3. Let Autoslash find you a lower rate
Going back to my Oahu booking with Hertz, while I was already satisfied with my $338 rate with Hertz, I still took a chance and used Autoslash. I’ve written about Autoslash before and here I am writing about it again.
What is Autoslash? In a nutshell:
- It’s a website that tracks your current car rental rates
- When your rate goes down, Autoslash will alert you of a new low rate.
- Once notified via email of new low rate/s available, you have the option to rebook at the new low rate
- Autoslash will NOT do the rebooking for you so you must take action
- These low rates availability are subject to change so if you don’t take action right away, the low rate could change
TIP: If you do not have any discount code, you could book directly using Autoslash website, and once booked, Autoslash will begin tracking your rental for you.
My $338 rate did not drop immediately
After plugging in my Hertz rental booking over at Autoslash, I noticed that I was not getting any email notifications from Autoslash advising me of a rate drop. That tells me that my $3338 rate was already the lowest available, and that it couldn’t go any lower. Again, that made me even more content that I should stay happy with my $338 booking with Hertz.
Autoslash found me a lower rate nearly $100 less
So there I was getting ready for my trip to Hawaii, and just one day before our trip, I received an email from Autoslash that they found lower rates for me.
I followed the link and it took me to Priceline where I could book a similar sized vehicle for $248 (nearly $100 less). It was with Thrifty Car Rental. Of course I booked it. During the booking process, there was a section in the Priceline reservation system where I could plug in my loyalty number with Thrifty’s Blue Chip Program. And then the light bulb lit up.
4. Why you should sign up for a car rental’s loyalty rewards program
Whether you are a frequent traveler or a not-so-frequent traveler, I suggest signing up for a car rental’s loyalty program. I’ve rented with Thrifty Car Rental before and I had saved my loyalty number, I plugged it in Priceline’s reservation system, but my loyalty number was not recognized. I knew better NOT to proceed with the booking without entering a loyalty number. Why? In 2018 we went on vacation to the Big Island in Hawaii. I did a similar booking without plugging in my loyalty with Budget Car Rental (Fastbreak program). Upon arrival, I assumed that since I was a Fastbreak member, that I would instantly get the benefits of having my rental ready for pickup by merely showing up, thus bypassing the long lines. I was wrong. I had to plug in my loyalty number at the time of the booking. Since my loyalty number was not attached to the reservation, Budget Car Rental could not give me the Fastbreak perk of bypassing the long line. I had to stay in line for over an hour. I told myself, never again! I learned my lesson.
Back to my Thriify booking. Since my Thrifty Blue Chip loyalty number was not recognized, I created a new Thrifty account. It was simple, straightforward, and within a couple of minutes of creating my profile, I was given a new Blue Chip number which I then plugged in with Priceline booking for $248. I was confident that once I arrive in Hawaii, that I could easily bypass any long queues for a car rental.
5. Remember to bring your reservation info – print it
Using my printout success during our Maui trip last summer, I made sure to bring my Priceline confirmation printout with me that clearly showed my $248 rate. I also had my Blue Chip number printout separately.
Black Friday lines at Thrifty/Dollar Rental Honolulu Airport
First of all, it took about 10-15 minutes of waiting for a shuttle that would take us to the rental office. The shuttle was full, and I knew I had my work cut out for me. Once we arrived at the Thrifty/Dollar lot, the nightmare began. There was a longgggg line, similar to a line at a theme park. There must’ve been 40-50 people in line.
My wife and I divided and conquered. I asked her to stay in line, while I went inside. I saw an arrow for Blue Chip members….and guess what? No lines. It almost felt awkward to stand there, there was no wait on the Blue Chip side, while the rest had to line up to my right.
What made matters even worse, there were only three agents assisting the customers. So I thought about my wife and her place in line, she could be in line for a couple of hours with the way things were going. Not a good start to our vacation. Heck, it was not a good for all of those folks waiting in line.
Being a member of a loyalty program pays off
After standing in empty Blue Chip line for 5 minutes, one of the agents finished with her customer, and then she looked at me. “Are you a Blue Chip member?” With confidence, I said “yes!” I gave her my name, and at first she couldn’t find my reservation. She eventually found it. I also showed her my Priceline booking for $248, but for some reason my reservation kept coming up with over $350. Again, this is the reason why it pays to have a printout handy. I simply showed her the Priceline booking which clearly stated my $248 rental, and without much hesitation, she honored the booking. The only thing though, the car size that I had booked was not available, and she had to upsize my rental to a Chevy Impala, and it raised my rental to a whopping $3. I could live with that. My rental became $251. She gave me the keys to the rental, picked up our vehicle and we were out of there within 15 minutes from the time we arrived at the car rental lot. Meanwhile, everyone else with no Blue Chip loyalty number stayed and waited in line.
TIP: Do your own walk through around the car that you’re renting. Take pictures of any dents, scratches, and if there’s a form to fill out to document these issues, then do so, if not, simply approach one of the employees at the lot. We were told, as long as we took pictures of the issues before driving the car off the lot, we should be good. Chances are – they should already know the existing condition of their vehicle.
- Book early
- Use a discount code available to you (try Costco car rental)
- Use Autoslash to track your rental for a lower rate
- Rebook should a lower rate becomes available
- Sign up for a car rentals loyalty program
- Print your rental information
- If there’s a discrepancy at the rental desk, be nice, show proof of your booking
Here are a few other blog entries I wrote about car rental experience, including what to watch out for should you consider Turo:
How about you? Do you have any car rental tips to share? Any nightmares you want to make sure to avoid. Let us know.