Crazy car rental deal: $1 a day for wheels in the West

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Last-minute ultra-cheap road trip, here you come.

From now through October 31, one of the best car rental deals you'll ever find is available from Thrifty. If you pick up a mid-size vehicle at one of three airports in the Pacific Northwest (Boise, Portland, or Seattle) and head south to drop the vehicle off at your choice of 11 airports (including San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, or Phoenix), the car is yours at the rental rate of merely $1 a day. Car rental companies periodically offer such one-way rental specials when they want to move inventory to meet seasonal demands, though daily $1 rates are extremely rare, and as good as it gets.

Of course, there is some fine print accompanying such an amazing deal. The $1/day rate is only valid for a maximum seven-day period -- so your road trip will have to be somewhat of a quickie. But a weeklong drive from, say, Seattle to San Jose, Calif. (another valid drop-off locale), is totally doable, and won't necessarily feel rushed. Because of taxes and fees, you'll pay more than $7 for a seven-day car rental, though still WAY less than you would under normal circumstances. Also, if for some reason you wind up dropping the vehicle off at a location other than those specified, you'll be charged a full $65 a day, plus a one-way drop-off fee of several hundred dollars.

But if you play by the rules, you're able to put together a trip at the last minute, and you're able to find availability (which is limited, as you'd expect), a rental car can be yours for the cheapest rate imaginable.

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