Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Renting a car is rarely a fun activity. For many of us, it means we’ll devote time to finding the right price, deciding which features to add, and debating the cost and need for extra car rental insurance.
Thankfully, finding the right price doesn’t have to be difficult. There are tons of websites out there that claim to offer the best prices — but do they really? If you’re short on time or just want to get down to the nuts and bolts, we’ve given you a quick overview in the “Pros and Cons” section for each website listed here.
So, let’s get to it — here are 12 of the best websites to use to book your next rental car.
Book Directly Through the Car Rental Agency’s Website
There are lots of benefits to booking directly through your car rental agency’s website. Many rental agencies have loyalty programs, and you can often choose to earn airline miles instead of car rental agency points (though there may be recovery fees associated).
However, they don’t always have the cheapest prices, and if they do, it would take a while to search through all of the sites to find out who has the best price.
Even if you intend to book directly with a car rental agency, it’s often a good idea to do a quick price search on a metasearch site or online travel agency to make sure you’re getting a good deal.
Expedia is a tried and true OTA that has been around since the 1990s. It’s a popular place to book flights, hotels, rental cars, and cruises.
The site is easy to use with lots of filtering and sorting options so you can quickly find exactly what you’re looking for. You can quickly see the lowest price option for each category by using the Great Deal filtering option.
Plus, you can earn points in the One Key rewards program when you book an eligible car. This is a great way to participate in a loyalty program even when you’re not booking directly through a car rental agency.
Expedia also lets you bundle your car rental with a flight and/or hotel in a package, which will generally save you money.
Pros and Cons of Expedia
- One Key rewards program
- Great filtering options
- You can book your rental car as part of a travel package
- You often have to pay upfront to get the discounted price
Hot Tip: To maximize your next car rental, consider using a credit card with rental car insurance included to minimize your out-of-pocket costs. Outside of insurance, there are other reasons to use a rewarding card such as a travel credit card. Some of our favorites include: The Platinum Card from American Express, American Express® Gold Card, and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
Momondo is a metasearch engine, similar to Kayak, that shows prices from lots of different online travel agencies. You’ll never actually book your trip on Momondo — instead, you can use the site to search for the best prices, then you’ll get transferred to that rental agency or online travel agency to book.
While not necessarily a problem, Momondo will often transfer you to an obscure booking agency. Of course, that’s not a negative in and of itself, but you’ll need to understand that things like customer service, fees, or policies may differ from a company you’re more familiar with.
Pros and Cons of Momondo
- Searches lots of other sites at one time
- No loyalty program
- Often transfers to obscure car rental agencies
Hot Tip: When comparing car rental prices from one website to another, it’s always good to click through all the way to see the final price. Many websites don’t display taxes and fees until the last page, so you may think you are getting a great deal when, in reality, you’re just looking at a base price that doesn’t include taxes and/or fees.
Like Momondo, Kayak is a metasearch engine that shows you prices on other websites in 1 spot. It’s a great way to quickly search for cheap car rentals, flights, and hotels.
Kayak has lots of ways to filter and sort your results, including a map so you can find a rental car by location and a policy filter so you can focus solely on cars that offer things like free cancellation or unlimited mileage.
If you end up choosing to book through Kayak, be sure to create an account and log in to see Private Deals which can save up to 35%.
The featured price you see on Kayak is often the “pay now” price. If you click on the dropdown arrow next to View Deal you’ll be able to see other options, including which websites offer a “pay later” price.
Pros and Cons of Kayak
- Great sorting and filtering options, including a map
- “Pay now” vs “pay later” pricing is easy to see
- No loyalty program
Hot Tip: For more information check out our complete guide to booking travel with Kayak.
Orbitz is another huge website that’s been around awhile and is used quite a bit to book flights, hotels, and rental cars.
It’s got great filtering and sorting options and you can see only the lowest-priced options in each category by selecting Great Deal. That feature may sound familiar as it’s also available on Expedia. Many of these online travel agencies are run by the same companies and can appear almost identical. However, prices can vary among the sites, so it’s always good to check a few different ones to get the best price.
If you decide to book a rental car through Orbitz, be sure to create an account and sign in so you can see Insider Pricing which can save 10% or more on car rentals.
Hot Tip: Orbitz has its own rewards program, Orbitz Rewards, in which you can earn Orbucks when you book flights, hotels, packages, and activities. Orbucks can then be used to save money on a hotel stay. Unfortunately, you can’t earn or redeem Orbucks on car rentals through Orbitz.
Pros and Cons of Orbitz
- Great Deal filtering option
- Insider Pricing
- Orbitz Rewards can’t be earned or redeemed on all car rentals
- You have to create an account to access some deals
Hot Tip: For more information, check out our detailed post about booking travel with Orbitz.
Priceline gained fame from the “Priceline Negotiator” and the “Name Your Own Price” tool. While those tools brought opaque bookings to the forefront, both have since been eliminated.
You can, however, still get good deals on opaque bookings (one in which certain details are hidden until after the transaction is complete). If you don’t have a car rental agency preference, check out one of Priceline’s Express Deals. With these rentals, you won’t know the exact agency until after your booking is complete, but they can be a good way to save money.
Another type of opaque booking you’ll find on Priceline is called Supplier’s Choice. With this type of booking, you’ll know the exact car rental agency you’ll be renting from, but you won’t know what kind of vehicle you’ll get until you pick it up.
Regardless of what type of car you choose on Priceline, be sure to create an account and log in so you can see VIP pricing. This is an easy way to save up to 20% (depending on your membership level) on your car rental.
Hot Tip: For more information, check out our detailed guide to Priceline.
Pros and Cons of Priceline
- Opaque bookings: Express Deals and Supplier’s Choice
- Priceline VIP
- Flexibility required to take advantage of opaque deals
Skyscanner, like Kayak, is a search engine, so when you find your car rental you’ll be transferred to another site to complete your booking.
While Skyscanner can offer good pricing, it’s hard to get much information about the rental, other than the price, at first glance of the search results. You have to click through on each result to find out basic information like the car rental agency.
Pros and Cons of Skyscanner
- Searches lots of websites at one time
- No loyalty program
- Hard to spot the good deals (opaque and special deals aren’t labeled)
Hot Tip: For more information check out our complete guide to using Skyscanner.
Travelocity is a popular website used to search for cheap hotels, flights, and rental cars. While it’s powered by Expedia, pricing can be different on each site.
Like some other sites (Expedia and Orbitz), you can filter your search results to only show the lowest-priced option in each category, called Great Deals.
When scrolling the search results you can quickly see which options offer free cancellation and which ones are non-refundable. That information can be very handy since travel plans can change so much these days.
Pros and Cons of Travelocity
- “Great Deal” filtering option
- Easily visible cancellation policies
- No loyalty program
Hot Tip: For more information, check out our detailed post about using Travelocity to book flights, hotels, rental cars, and more.
Hotwire is another site that offers opaque bookings, called Hotwire Hot Rate deals. You won’t know the rental agency until after the booking is complete, but Hotwire states that it will be from one of these companies:
Pros and Cons of Hotwire
- Hotwire Hot Rate cars
- No loyalty program
Hot Tip: For more information, check out our detailed guide to using Hotwire to book flights, hotels, rental cars, and more!
9. Costco Travel
The search results are displayed in an easy-to-read chart that highlights the cheapest price for each car type in red.
The downside is that you have to be a Costco member to book a car through Costco Travel. However, if you’re renting a car as part of a vacation package, a Costco Shop card is often included in the deal, which can cover the cost of a membership. Plus, if you’ve got an Executive membership, you can earn 2% back on all of your Costco Travel purchases.
Pros and Cons of Costco Travel
- Easy-to-use table that shows which rental agency has the lowest prices
- Earn 2% back as a Cosco Executive member
- Only shows prices from 4 rental agencies
- You need to be a Costco member to use Costco Travel
Hot Tip: For more information, check out our in-depth guide to Costco Travel.
10. American Express Travel
Fortunately, the best Amex credit cards also offer a travel booking service. You don’t need to hold an American Express credit card to use Amex Travel, but it can sometimes get you more benefits.
Renting a car through Amex Travel is very similar to other sites. It even offers a type of opaque booking where you won’t know the type of vehicle you’re getting until you pick it up.
If you select a “pay now” price you’ll be able to use Membership Rewards to pay for your rental car. While it’s great to have the flexibility to pay with points, you’ll only get 0.7 cents per point in value, which is terrible. We value Amex Membership Rewards at about 2.2 cents each, so you’re getting less than a third of the typical value you could get by instead transferring your points to the Amex travel partners.
Pros and Cons of American Express Travel
- Opaque bookings
- Ability to book a rental car with Membership Rewards points
- Terrible value when using points to pay for a car rental
Hot Tip: For more information, check out our complete guide to using American Express Travel to book flights, hotels, rental cars, and cruises.
Rentalcars.com is a search engine that’s owned by the same company that also owns sites like Booking.com. Priceline, and Kayak, and as you can imagine, it specializes in rental cars.
What we liked about this site is the easy-to-read search results that quickly showed things like free cancellation and whether the deal was a “pay now” or “pay later” price.
Rentalcars.com also offered opaque deals that are often a good way to save money if you’re not particular about the type of car or car rental agency you’re getting.
Pros and Cons of Rentalcars.com
- Price match guarantee
- Easy-to-read search results
- No rewards program
Hot Tip: Interested in getting status, fast? Check out these rewards cards come that come with elite car rental status.
AutoSlash is a bit different than other sites. To get a rate quote on a rental car you need to submit all of your rental criteria plus your contact information. Then you’ll receive an email with your price quote.
It only takes a minute or 2 to request a quote from AutoSlash. One of the unique things about this site is that it will ask you about what types of credit cards and loyalty programs you have in order to get the best price.
Pros and Cons of Auto Slash
- AutoSlash takes into account your rental car memberships and credit cards for any additional benefits
- A list of available coupons is available in the Coupons section
- Price quotes aren’t instant; it takes about 5 to 10 minutes to receive an email with your price
- It’s hard to quickly compare prices to other sites
In the following price comparisons, I was looking for the absolute cheapest price available, regardless of the rental agency, type of car, or cancellation policy.
Example 1: A weeklong rental from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
Example 2: A 3-day rental from Miami International Airport (MIA)
SCROLL FOR MORE
|Website||Example 1: Weeklong Rental||Example 2: 3-Day Rental|
As you can see from these examples, prices are all over the map. Skyscanner offered the best price by far on the week-long rental in example #1 while Expedia and Travelocity tied for the best price on the 3-day rental in example #2.
Costco Travel had the highest price in both examples.
Hot Tip: For more tips, check out our guide to saving money on rental cars.
Finding the best price on your next car rental doesn’t have to be hard if you know where to look. These 12 websites can help you easily search through the options to find the best price for your next car rental. Which site you ultimately use is up to you — some offer a better search function, some offer a rewards program, and some are just easier to use.
Try out a couple of these sites when you’re searching for your next rental to find which one works best for you.
Featured Image Credit: Charlie Deets via Unsplash
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best websites to use to book a rental car?
There is no one website that will always offer the cheapest prices every time. However, there are some sites that continually offer good deals. In our head-to-head comparisons, Skyscanner, Expedia, and Travelocity all offered prices lower than other websites.
What is an opaque booking?
An opaque booking is one in which the car rental agency or the type of car is hidden until your booking is complete. Many sites, including Hotwire, American Express, Rentalcars.com, and Priceline offer opaque bookings.
What is the cheapest rental car company?
Unfortunately, there’s not one specific rental agency offers the best prices all the time. There are a few websites which will usually offer the lowest prices on a consistent basis. Try searching for your rental car on a site like Skyscanner, Expedia, or Travelocity before deciding where to book.
Is it cheaper to rent a car at the airport or off-site?
Rental car prices tend to be more expensive at airport locations because of higher per day fees and airport concession fees and taxes. However, be sure to double-check pricing and add in any expenses you might incur (like a taxi or Uber) to get to the off-site location. Sometimes the extra charge is worth it for the convenience of an airport pickup.
Should I get car rental insurance?
Whether or not you should pay for the rental agency’s insurance policy depends on a few things. First, take a look in your wallet. Do you have a credit card that offers extra car rental insurance? If not, it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and take the insurance offered by the rental agency.
But if you have a good travel rewards credit card that comes with insurance, an additional policy might not be necessary.
How far in advance should I rent a car for the best price?
The exact right time to book a rental car is an ever-changing thing — there is no formula to use to guarantee the lowest price, unfortunately. The general consensus is that unless you have lots of flexibility, it’s probably best to book as soon as you can.
However, if you can afford to wait (and have no preference for car type or rental agency) you may be able to get a lower price closer in. Waiting till the last minute to book does have some risk — cars can sell out and agencies can raise prices anytime. Even if you wait till the last minute, you should book online! Booking at the counter will almost always be more expensive.
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