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Best car rental sites to book your next road trip

by Staff

When it comes to booking rental cars, there are quite a few websites to choose from. If you’re not set on booking directly with one of the big national chains like Enterprise, Avis, Budget, Hertz or Alamo, you could potentially save even more money by using one of the options below.

Whether you have elite status with a car rental company or not, there are different ways to compare rental companies and find the best pricing for your next rental.

We always recommend pricing a rental directly with a national chain website so you have an idea of the going rate before moving on to the aggregator sites that compare multiple offers.

Costco Travel

For Costco members, this is a no-brainer. Costco negotiates rates on everything from vacation packages and cruises to car rentals for its members. The site allows you to compare prices from participating Alamo, Avis, Budget and Enterprise locations and shows a grid of available car types and prices across those companies so you can make the best decision.

For the purposes of pricing, an airport was chosen below, but once you enter your desired city, you can select different locations within that city from a map and compare pricing.

COSTCO.COM

There are a few rules for renting with Costco: The primary renter needs to be a Costco member, but additional drivers do not, and drivers must be 25 years of age or older.

Once you’ve selected your car and are ready to place a reservation, you’ll need to provide your Costco membership number. One of the perks of Costco Travel is that you can make a reservation without worrying about paying until you pick up your rental car.

AutoSlash

AutoSlash is a car rental aggregator, meaning it pulls information from many different rental sites to allow you to compare pricing. One of its interesting features is that it allows you to enter any memberships, credit cards or frequent flyer programs you belong to, and it will search for applicable discounts.

TPG’s Katie Genter wrote a comprehensive guide to using AutoSlash for rental car shopping.

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Once you enter in all relevant information, AutoSlash will email you a link to view your quotes. You can then choose to book now and pay now or pay later.

One of the interesting features that AutoSlash offers is the ability to track rental car prices. Once you’ve made a reservation with free cancellation, go back to the AutoSlash website and fill out the form to track price drops for your rental. You will need your current reservation information to fill out the form.

You will then be able to check the boxes for any of the rental car companies you’d like to track and also choose only to receive an email alert if the price drops below what you have currently reserved. This could potentially save you money and allow you to rebook at a lower rate.

AUTOSLASH.COM

Turo

Often referred to as the “Airbnb of rental car sites,” Turo has definitely caught on in cities across the U.S. and even some Canadian provinces and the United Kingdom. In short, Turo is a peer-to-peer car rental site that can also be accessed and managed through an app.

Many TPG staffers have used Turo and share positive experiences in the TPG guide to renting with Turo. Some of the advantages of using this service include the lower fee for drivers under 25 years of age, that delivery service can sometimes be available, and renting from a local could be more convenient than seeking out a rental car location.

Related: Renting a car in Hawaii with Turo

The one downside would be that you usually have to return the car to the same location where you picked it up, so if you’re looking for a one-way rental, a traditional rental car site might work better for you in that situation.

A few quick test searches found rental prices equal to or less expensive than traditional rental car companies. The handy map will show you the locations of all the rentals available in your area for the dates that you search.

TURO.COM

While Turo doesn’t have airline partners like the big car rental companies, there are still opportunities to earn points and miles on your rentals. Since Turo codes in the travel category, be sure to use a credit card that earns you the most points for travel.

Related: Are Turo car rentals covered by credit card insurance?

Expedia

Maybe you’ve only searched Expedia for hotels or flights, but it also offers rental cars and the option to book all trip components together if you’d like. When searching for hotels, you can check the box to add a flight and add a car.

Expedia’s car rental interface is pretty straightforward and convenient. You can use filters to search for options like refundable rentals and the ability to pay at the counter. It’s also a transparent booking site, meaning you will see the company you’re renting with before deciding to book.

EXPEDIA.COM

In 2022, Expedia Group announced a new rewards program called One Key which would unify rewards across its family of brands: Expedia, Hotels.com, Orbitz and vacation rental site Vrbo. There’s still no official launch date in 2023 for this new program.

AAA

If you are a AAA member, check the AAA website for your area to see if there are car rental deals. The AAA site will search multiple car rental sites for you to find the best deals. If you aren’t already a AAA member, you can read the TPG guide to AAA membership to learn more about the benefits and determine if it’s worth it for you to join.

Some of the exclusive member benefits for car rentals include up to 20% off the base rate in the U.S. and Canada, up to 10% off the base rate on international rentals, free use of one child safety seat, and no charge for up to four additional drivers who are AAA members.

There are additional exclusive benefits through AAA’s partnership with Hertz, such as 10% off a tank of gas when purchasing gas at local prices, and you can return the vehicle with any amount of fuel. The young renters fee is also waived for members ages 20-24.

To start the search process, I had to enter my Hertz membership number, and then it asked me to verify my full name and ZIP code to validate that I was a AAA member. The search feature offers pay-now and pay-at-the-counter options as well as AAA member rates and standard rates. You can even filter by car company, and the top of the search screen shows you what discounts are available with each company.

AAA.COM

Related: The complete guide to car rental elite status matches

Bottom line

There are many search options available online for finding rental car discounts. Each site has its pros and cons, so we recommend finding a site that works best for you, and that leverages any elite status or membership that you might already have.

And no matter what, make sure you have car insurance coverage through your credit card or insurance agency, or purchase it through the car rental company.

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