Rental Cars – On Site vs Online

I used to think you could get a better price for a rental car at the rental location than online because they would save internet service charges, they also had a better pulse of their own inventory and the “old bird in the hand” theory.  But I was wrong…

 The other day a my friend from South Africa was in town and he needed to pick up a rental car one way to New York so he could catch his flight out of the country. We stopped in our local Enterprise agency and asked for a price to drop a car in New York. The guy behind the counter quickly came up with a price of about $450  ($50 for the car and a $400 drop fee).

My friend whipped out his wallet and was ready to accept that price. The guy tried to explain to us that any rental car agency would be charging a significant fee to drop a car all the way up in New York but I remembered a recent incident where my wife and I were caught with the unexpected need for a rental car. I disagreed and quickly  jumped on Kayak to check the cost and found a car for $126 including the drop fee. I was shocked at the price difference!

Multiple times I have found the price a rental car agency quotes at the counter can be beaten online. Recently we were coming into Dallas and needed an unexpected rental car so my wife and I split up checking with several of the rental kiosks to find the lowest price. We got back together and checked online and the online price beat the lowest kiosk price by a significant margin. We walked back up to one of the counters and showed them the computer price and they honored the internet price.  

The moral of the story? When the need for a rental car arises, even if you are at the rental location,  it is worth jumping on your computer to check the price to insure the lowest price possible.