Are Rental Cars Cheaper Last-Minute? (Checked & Explained)

For decades now, rental cars have been a lifesaver of some sort for tourists, travelers and pedestrians who need a car temporarily. There are several rental car companies and agencies across the world, and the industry is continuing to grow.

Like most other things, rental cars vary in prices depending on the car, when you rent, how you rent, and how long you want to rent for.

In this article, we will look into whether rental cars are cheaper when you rent them last minute. Let’s roll.


Here’s the Short Answer to Whether Rental Cars Are Cheaper Last Minute:

Typically, if you are renting a car, it is much cheaper to book in advance- weeks or even months before. Prices almost always shore up at the last minute; however, there are rental car agencies that maintain prices even for last-minute deals.

Are Rental Cars Cheaper Closer to the Date?

When it comes to snatching up the best deals on a car rental, you are better off booking way before. This is especially true if the date is during busy periods like Christmas and Easter, when prices often skyrocket dramatically.

Just make sure you compare prices before settling for the most reasonable one you can find. Also, it’s best to book cancelable deals, so if the prices fall later on, you can cancel and book the cheaper one.

However, there are times when it might be just fine to book a rental car close to the date. These are non-busy periods when the prices do not fluctuate as much. At these times, the regular cars are up for grabs so there’s no competition-driven price increase.

If you are going to do this though, we don’t advise doing it at the last minute. That’s because studies have shown prices typically soar within the last 48 hours of booking a rental car.

What Day of the Week Is Cheaper for Car Rentals?

If you are looking to book a rental car, it’s absolutely normal to try to find out the best day of the week to get cheaper deals. After all, nobody wants to pay on a Monday and find out they could have saved a few bucks if they had just waited until Wednesday.

First, the reason prices go up on certain days of the week is because of the rate of demand on those days.

Demand is often higher on the weekends, i.e. on Fridays through Mondays, which means rental cars are pricier during these periods. Basically, you are likely to get the best and the cheapest deals between Tuesdays and Thursdays.

However, we must mention that there are no formulae for these fluctuations, so don’t rely so much on these metrics.

Related: Do Rental Cars Need Identifying Stickers? (Explained And Checked)

Can You Negotiate With Rental Car Companies?

Like every other business, you can absolutely negotiate and come to an agreement with car rental companies. Below are some tried and tested tips that will help you get the best deals, especially if it’s over a counter:

1. Travel During Non-Busy Periods

Off-season times of the year are the best times to negotiate rental car prices. This is because demand isn’t particularly high during these times, and agencies usually have lots of cars just sitting pretty in their parking lots.

2. Master Your Negotiation Skills

Haggling might appear embarrassing, but you cannot worry about that if you are looking to get a great price. First thing you want to do is express your mild displeasure at the first and the second offer. Whatever price you are going to settle for, make sure it is below the maximum price you’ve set.

Once you do all that, there’s a great chance you walk out of that establishment with the best price possible.

3. Keep Your Cool

Remember, you are trying to get a steal, so you can’t afford to flare up no matter what. Keep your cool, exchange pleasantries, and talk to whoever the attendant is like you’re talking to a friend. Losing your cool is a bait you do not want to fall for.

Once the spirits are high and the vibes are cool, the chances of walking away with a steal stay high.

4. Stand Your Ground

After they’ve named all their offers, stand your ground at a particular price and keep pushing. You can even take it a notch further by walking away, and if they consider your counter offer reasonable, they will likely call you back.

The walk-away trick almost always works. And even when it doesn’t, at least you would have gotten the company’s bottom line price, and you’d be able to compare it with others.

Related: Do Rental Cars Get Pulled Over More? (Explained)

What Is the Cheapest Time to Book a Rental Car?

It’s pretty unanimous that the best and cheapest time to book a rental car is three to six months prior. Sometimes, it’s even better to book a year prior, especially if you are going with a group or your family.

However, if your trip is going to be during busy periods like Christmas or Thanksgiving, booking months prior may not make much of a difference.

Whatever you do, make sure you book your rental car at least 48 hours before the set date because prices are known to skyrocket within that timeframe.

8 Tips That Can Save You Lots When Renting Cars

Here are eight important tips that can help you get generous discounts when renting cars:

1. Book the Car As Early As You Can

The surest way to save some cash when renting cars is to book way ahead- say three to six months in advance. In fact, some rental car owners and employees have admitted that booking early almost always guarantees cheaper rates.

2. Choose Rental Car Agencies Not So Close to the Airport

Truth is, some rental car companies are smartly situated close to airports to save travelers the stress of looking all around after touching down. However, these rental companies often have heftier rent prices than others.

If you are looking to save some money, we advise finding your way to a rental agency not so close to the airport. That might get you a much better deal.

3. Go For Cancelable Deals

There are rental car deals you can book in advance and later cancel for free. That affords you the chance of canceling an earlier deal and settling for cheaper ones. So before booking, make sure the rental car company is one that guarantees free cancellation.

4. Try Websites Where You Can Get Price Drop Notifications

If you have booked in advance and you are wondering how to get the scoop on price drops, there are websites for that. A great example is AutoSlash-the website notifies you by email when the price of your reservation drops and that affords you the chance to cancel.

5. Ask About Coupons

Many car rental agencies offer coupons and discount codes, and that can save you a lot of bucks. So, before booking, be sure to ask if there are any available coupons or discounts. Most of these companies offer coupons for first-timers, veterans, and loyal, long-time renters.

6. Inspect the Car Parts

Before finalizing a rental deal, it is important that you inspect the whole car to avoid getting charged extra for a fault you didn’t cause. From faults as little as a dent or scratch to ones as big as a broken mirror, be sure to take time-stamped pictures to avoid liability.

7. Get a Child Car Seat

If you are going to bring your kids along, it is better to buy your own child car seats. Rental car companies charge greedily for child car seats, so you are better off coming with your own. There are several sites where you can get used child car seats at a reduced price.

Related: Rental Cars And Car Seats For Kids: 6 Things To Know

8. Opt for One Driver

Some renters like to use multiple drivers on trips, and while this is a great idea, it might cost you extra. If you want to save yourself a few bucks, just stick with a single driver.

However, there are companies that waive the extra driver free for spouses, siblings and other immediate family members.

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