How to spot a last-minute car rental dealer

Planning is an excellent part of life, but sometimes no matter how well you plan, you might end up at the car dealer’s office for a last-minute rental. Whether it’s because the car broke down before a trip or simply because you are going for a spontaneous road trip, leasing a car may come in handy. But these tips help you find the perfect last-minute rental and still strike a good deal.

1. Make an online booking

A walk-up rate is rarely going to be a great deal. In most instances, walk-up deals are set by the local managers who don’t spend as much effort on competitiveness. Your best bet is to use online booking. Check, for instance. Hundreds of online companies are competing, and their numbers are likely set to remain competitive, giving you a better deal. Managers know you are likely to accept the prices they offer and will naturally provide a higher rate.

2. Add a coupon and a discount code to your reservation

Last-minute car rentals mean you are likely to be in a hurry, but take a few minutes to look for car rental discounts before you make a reservation. Discounts are like free money and will knock off a massive chunk off your rate. The lower you pay for a car, the better. Finding a coupon and discount code will not be as hard if you know where to look. A quick Google search will give you some results to look at.

3. Use third-party comparison sites

Third-part comparison sites are always a great way to compare prices from different companies at once. Since you are looking for a last-minute deal, you don’t have time to use a spreadsheet to compare prices as you go through individual sites. Comparison sites will compare deals from top rental companies and give you the best rates available. Websites such as Expedia, CheapTickets, Priceline, and Skyscanner are some of the best options to use.

4. Check airport and off-airport options

Checking rentals at the airport is worth a try. Some local neighborhood offices will only hold a few cars, and a last-minute lease might cost you a tidy sum. Your local airport may have a better deal, so be sure to check. However, when flying into an airport, you might not get a reasonable rate, which makes checking neighborhoods near the airport better. However, renting off-airport is, in most cases, always the cheaper option even after factoring in your uber drive from the airport.

5. Remain flexible

Sometimes, finding precisely what you are looking for is not always easy, especially when searching last minute. What are you willing to compromise on? Can you use an economy car instead of an SUV and save a few bucks while at it? If the car dealer prefers someone older to drive, do you have someone you can ask? A little compromise will get you a car, so you are on the road sooner.

Even though you are searching last minute, always shop around and compare prices. Don’t feel pressured into paying more for services you don’t need, and always remain objective and flexible when making your decision.

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Andy Debolt
Andy is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a Bachelors Degree in Journalism. When he isn't writing Andy enjoys water sports and spending time on the golf course.