ADVERTISEMENT

What to do about high rental car prices

By Charlie Graham, Autorentals.com
September 29, 2021
Sticker Shock 1170X780
Image via: Autorentals.com
tl;dr: If you have upcoming travel plans, book your rental car now!

$300/day car rentals? Is this real? In some extreme cases, yes, this is the current reality. Or, potentially even worse, there are no rental cars available at all. As travel demand continues to rise for Spring Break and Easter weekend, rental car companies are struggling to keep up with demand.

Average TSA Throughput 2021

Our internal data and analysis have shown a spike in not only the average price per day (which has increased 100% in the past 30 days), but also in the percentage of searches with no availability. While the latter is starting to trend back downward, prices have remained stubbornly high.

Why is this happening?

Our earlier prediction on Dec. 15, 2020 of elevated rental car rates laid out four main reasons that the market and other forces would result in the current situation.  At that time, we encouraged everyone to reserve their rental car early.

  1. Rental car fleet is dramatically lower than typical for this time of year.
  2. Car rental companies became experts of selling their fleet direct to consumers, further reducing their fleet size.
  3. In-fleeting, or adding inventory, will go more slowly than usual. Our thinking here was mainly around corporate risk avoidance for fleet planners, which still holds true. However, another factor is at play here with manufacturers delaying planned orders because of a computer chip shortage that is affecting production.  Car Rental companies are sticking by plans to be ready for a higher travel demand by the peak summer season.
  4. Travel demand will spike as cases decrease, vaccinations increase and restrictions are loosened. There is a wave of pent up travel demand waiting to be released. Previously, we felt this would peak in Summer 2021, but all signs point to this happening now for Spring Break 2021.

What can you do about it?

If you are seeing higher than average prices or no rental cars available, here’s what we suggest.

  • Change your travel dates. If your travel dates are flexible at all, search for other dates. This will especially be helpful if you can travel during off-peak / shoulder date ranges. Late April through mid-May typically sees lower travel demand. So does early June and late August. All bets are off the table when it comes to 100% reliable forecasting, but those date ranges should be fairly reliable when it comes to leisure travel destinations.
  • Search for alternative pick up locations. While this could mean a completely different location that may not be as popular, it could also mean looking at rental car options not at the airport. Finding a rental near your hotel or final destination may mean lower rates and lower taxes. Try searching for city locations beyond the airport, or use our Zip Code search capabilities to hone in on specific locations. This may mean you will have to be creative in getting to the rental car facility away from the airport (think shared ride service, hotel shuttle or taxi), it could be the difference in taking that trip or not by finding an available and affordable rental car.
  • Book as far in advance (NOW) as possible. Considering a trip for the summer? Search for that rental car first and make your reservation immediately. Most rental car reservations are flexible and can be fully cancelled or modified all the way up to the day before your scheduled pick up date.

Our goal is to always find the perfect car for the best price for you. We encourage you to use these options to reserve that perfect rental car as soon as possible! Click here to search for your car rental on AutoRentals.com.

CLUB DISCOUNTS

Save up to 50% on Hotels

1 rooms, 1 guests
ADVERTISEMENT
Keep reading
Travel Tips

Nab These Great 2018 Deals Now!

As our name suggests, Budget Travel is all about empowering our audience to get out there and see more for less. We spend a good deal of our time (and have a lot of fun) researching bargain trips, great hotel rates, and airfare-booking secrets. So we’re psyched to report that the U.S. Travel Association is launching Daily Getaways 2018 (dailygetaways.ustravel.org) on Monday, April 9, offering some of the year’s best deals for up to 60 percent off, just in time for the summer high season. LOYALTY POINTS FOR SALE Are you one of the 72 percent of Americans who crave an easier, more affordable way to redeem loyalty points to book travel? The U.S. Travel Association found that nearly three in four travelers face that challenge, and this year’s Daily Getaways is making it easier than ever to capitalize on rewards programs, with top travel companies offering deeply discounted loyalty points for sale. A few examples of loyalty points for sale include Choice Privileges, IHG Rewards Club, Hilton Honors, and more. DAILY DEALS From April 9 through May 9, new, limited-quantity deals will go live at 1pm Eastern each day. Deals include the loyalty points sale mentioned above as well as coupons for car rentals, tickets to popular attractions, deals on hotel stays, and more. Spoiler alert: The very first deal, on April 9, is a discounted Universal Express Ticket including admission, for $139, and there will be only 250 on sale. BROWSE THE DEALS IN ADVANCE Our favorite part of Daily Getaways is that you can start browsing the month of deals now to see what’s on the horizon and mark your calendars (paper or virtual) and sign up for daily notifications to make sure you don’t miss out. In addition to the Universal deal mentioned above, others we may mark our calendars for include: A one-day car rental from Avis for $30 (April 13), a four-night stay at Excalibur Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas for $475 (April 18), and a two-night escape at Omni Hotels & Resorts for $245 (April 20).

Travel Tips

The One App Every Traveler Needs Now

Some of my favorite ideas started with the words “What if…?” So I’ve been especially excited to download and start using Lonely Planet’s new Trips app, which basically starts with the concept, “What if we create a world-class social media platform tailor-made for travelers?” Trips (downloadable for iOS HERE and coming soon for Android) allows you to upload images and captions from your travels and organize them in an attractive layout that serves as a mini travel story that you can share with as many - or as few - fellow users as you please. Want your close relatives to experience your weekend escape to a state fair? Trips can do that. Want the entire world to experience your monthlong European odyssey? Trips can do that, too. Lonely Planet, Budget Travel’s parent company, has a storied history of engaging travelers in a two-way conversation in which travel experts inspire and empower travel enthusiasts, and travel enthusiasts in turn inspire and empower others to do the same. The Trips app takes that relationship to new heights. Highlights include: Get Inspired Browse the images and stories posted by Lonely Planet’s audience (not to mention its editors, writers, and photographers) to find your next great vacation destination. Share your trips Upload images and captions and the app will lay them out for you in an engaging platform that you can adjust before publishing so that the group you share it with (as many or as few people as you wish) will see your trip in the most attractive visual format possible. Customize your experience Sure, we all love to travel, but not everyone wants to, say, scale mountains or sail to remote islands. If, for instance, road trips or gentle hikes are more your thing, you can easily zero in on what you most want to do. Get Started Click HERE to learn more or HERE to download the free app for iOS now.

Travel Tips

Fireworks Photography in 5 Easy Steps

Support: Be a rock (or find one) Keeping steady is key. When pointed at nighttime fireworks, your camera will naturally reduce the shutter speed in an attempt to capture the bright bursts of light and the explosive movement. The consequence: If your hands shake even a little, you risk a photo that's a blurry mess. And once a firework is gone, it's not coming back. To steady yourself, find something stable on which to rest your camera—a fence or a rock ledge, for example—that will help reduce any movement. Better yet, spring for a small piece of equipment that will yield more predictable results. You don't have to buy an expensive, bulky product. For about $10, you can get a pocket size "bottle top" tripod sturdy enough for a point-and-shoot camera from Amazon.com. Also consider the cute and flexible Gorillapod, whose twistable legs wrap around poles, branches, or railings (joby.com, $25). For a bigger camera, like a single lens reflex (SLR), you'll need the enhanced stability of a tabletop or full-size tripod. If you've never used one, don't be intimidated; when you're shooting fireworks, a good tripod will make the difference between a poor photo and the sharp, vivid one you're after. Location: Serendipity happens Before you start photographing, find your spot, ideally a space where your view is unobstructed. If there is a hill or any high ground, use it to improve your vantage point. When you shoot, as a rule of thumb, at least two-thirds to three-quarters of the frame should be filled with the sky. If you're near water, try including it in your composition, as the water will nicely reflect the color and intensity of the fireworks. (See photo example) Other compositional techniques: Use trees or buildings to frame the image and give it more depth, or incorporate people near the bottom of the frame to create interesting silhouettes. And, of course, serendipity can work magic you never planned for, so take lots of pictures and don't be afraid to experiment. A last bit of advice: If it's windy, try to position yourself upwind of the fireworks. Otherwise, the smoke could waft across your view and make taking the picture difficult. Lens: Wider is better A 50mm lens provides roughly the same field of view as the human eye, but a wide-angle lens works better for fireworks photography. If you can get your hands on a 20mm to 35mm lens, for example, you will increase your field of view—the amount of sky you see through your lens—and have better luck capturing the full effect of the fireworks. A lens that's too long (80mm to 200mm), on the other hand, will almost certainly yield photos that cut out some of the action you want to reproduce. If you are using a point-and-shoot with a built-in zoom lens, be sure to zoom all the way out, which will give you the widest possible lens setting. Settings: Take it slow If you're shooting digital, set your camera's film speed to ASA 100. If you're shooting film, purchase an ASA 100 roll with 36 exposures. It's a slow film speed, so the color saturation will be high, and what professionals call the "grain" (the visible particles that make a photo look fuzzy) will be low—good for fireworks photos. If you use a higher ASA, such as 400 or 800, you will increase the graininess of the film (or the digital noise in a digital file). This is distracting and decreases the clarity of the image. Be sure to turn off your flash; the burst of bright light from the bulb will overwhelm the fireworks. If you have an automatic camera, try shooting images in both daylight and nighttime modes—and check your results as you go to see which setting yields the best results. Timing: It's everything Fireworks move fast. One timing strategy is to push the shutter button while the firework is still rising in the sky. The shutter will stay open longer due to the low light, so the camera should have time to capture the last moments of the firework's trail and the subsequent explosion. If your camera will take multiple images or "bursts," you may also want to try that approach. It'll increase your chances of getting the shot just right. If you're worried about a shaking hand, use your camera's self-timer, ideally along with a tripod. You won't have to touch the camera at the moment the shot is taken. Your camera may have two time-delay settings for the self-timer, usually 2 or 10 seconds. If your camera allows for it, set it to the shorter time delay.