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mar 30 2010

Last minute road trip on the cheap! Car rentals from just $1 a day

Every spring, car rental agencies need to move automobiles around the country to prepare for the summer season, and travelers willing to do the driving can score ultra-cheap rental rates, starting at a mere buck per day.

Besides the cheap rates, renters don't have to pay any of the typical one-way drop-off fees, which often add $65, even as much as $250, onto the tab. Seeing as you're basically doing the rental agencies a favor by helping them shift inventory, they're kind enough to waive the fees.

Combine an inexpensive one-way flight with one of these car rental specials, and you've got the makings of a great (and cheap!) springtime road trip. Here are the specifics:

Alamo and National

The agencies are owned by the same company, and basically have the same rules for one-way specials this spring. Rentals start at $10 per day, and $12 daily for full-size vehicles, when picked up at a major airport in Florida between April 5 and May 31, and dropped off at any participating agency location in the continental U.S. Renters are allowed to keep vehicles at these special rates for a maximum of 21 days. Check out National.com or Alamo.com for more details.

Avis and Budget

Similarly to above, Avis and Budget are owned by the same company and host essential the same offer. To get their special rates ($9.95 daily for smaller cars, $11.95 for full-size rentals, $26.95 for SUVs), you must pick the rental up at one of 11 Florida airports and drop the car off at an agency location in Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, or Tennessee. The promotion is valid on rentals completed by June 15, and, unfortunately, to get the special rate you've got to make it a quick road trip: The maximum rental period is just four days. Could be perfect for a long weekend though. Scope the options at Avis.com or Budget.com.

Hertz

If you're really quick about it, and you're OK with a really quick trip, you can still reserve a one-way car rental with Hertz for just $3 a day. To get that rate, you must reserve by March 31 and pick the car up sometime between April 5 and June 30. The other rules are that you must pick up the car in Florida and drop it off at a location in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, or Northeast in four days or less. It's not the easiest set of criteria to meet, but for $3 a day, maybe you can make it work. Go to Hertz.com for the lowdown, including the fact that you must use the code 1WAY when reserving.

Thrifty

Finally, Thrifty lives up to its name with the best deal of all, a $1-daily one-way rental offer. To qualify, you must pick up a car at the airport in either Seattle, or Portland, Oregon, and drop off the car at one of three airports in northern California: San Francisco (SFO), San Jose (SJC), or Oakland (OAK). The drop-off has to take place by April 30, and you can keep the car for a maximum seven days. For more details, or to check availability, visit Thrifty's website.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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