Renting a car these days can be expensive, unless you know some tricks. They keep changing, so always poke around to make sure and don’t believe what you hear. I’ve always been told that renting a car at an airport is a lot more expensive, but it’s not true ALL THE TIME. It’s a pain to have to make a lot of calls and dig around online, but hopefully, I can do that for you here. Here’s some that have recently popped up.
Recently, I called my Hertz Gold phone number and explored rental options close to my home, which is downtown San Francisco. Most of the locations were charging $125 per day and I was initially shocked they were lower than Enterprise, but it’s dependent upon their supply and demand, so it’s best to shop around. As the agent shopped for better deals, I searched along with her and remembered a friend said she’d gotten a better deal at the airport, so I look at that location and guess what? It was only $22 a day!!! The only hick-up is I’d have to take BART from home to the airport, which is about $9, BUT, it was still cheaper than getting that same car close to my home.
Remember, Enterprise will pick you up and drop you off. A friend utilizes this feature by taking BART (San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit) from the city, down to another city south of here, then gets a ride from Enterprise and pays $9.99 a day for a car rental on a weekend. In San Francisco proper, that same car would rent (from Enterprise) for $159 per day. Location, location, location. Check prices out of the larger towns and get there using public transportation. It might be a hassle, but if it’s a longer use of a car, it might be very worth it.
I’m to a snob, but I don’t like to rent with smaller companies and usually stick with two or three max. This way, you build loyalty and most all companies these days want to keep their loyal customers and they will often bend rules for the faithful customers, so don’t go for something just because it’s cheap. If a policy needs to “bend”, you’ll be a nobody, so stick with your favs and be a nice, happy customer (more on that in my post at Get Great Service, Upgrades and Benefits).
When it comes to renting cars in Europe, compare Auto Europe and Europecar. Enterprise, Hertz and Avis are there too, but I’ve consistently had better and far cheaper results with Auto Europe and Europcar. They are both “well healed” in Europe and there are far more cars to choose from. Dropping a car off at another city costs, just like here, but in a different country and it can get expensive. However, sometimes it makes sense and with the lower cost to rent, it’s not that bad.
Driving in Europe is safer and easier than here in the US. People never “hog” the left lane which is illegal. Speed limits are generally higher, but the police are more strict, because higher speeds can cause accidents involving more cars. Just pay attention and don’t drive too slow or two fast. Move to the right and allow people to pass. Some cars aren’t as powerful and others are very fast. I recall driving a cute little Audi station wagon in Germany. I was easily causing at about 90 MPH. I could see a white car coming up behind me. I politely moved over an extra lane as it was approaching fast. They passed in a WHOSH. It was a brand new white Bentley and I’m sure was cruising at well over 120 MPH. I loved that little Audi. It was fast and thrift on gas. Later, we learned it was a diesel. I was shocked. It had no signs of being sluggish or anything less than a gasoline car. Be sure to request English speaking GPS, which we didn’t know about, but we quickly learned “right” and “left” in German. The last car we had in France and Spain, gave us at least 15 different language options, including male or female Irish English, Australian English and more. It was fun. We changed it to fit our mood. No American English, but who cars. It only added to the trip and gave me something to talk about here. Ha, ha.