I’ve earned tons of miles and saved a lot of money through car rental promotions. In 2009, I earned over 150,000 Delta SkyMiles booking car rentals and today I’ll share my approach with you. By using available coupon codes and searching multiple places you can ensure maximum award earnings or significant cost savings. Scoring the best deals on rental cars takes a little bit of effort and a methodical approach. I’ve outlined my approach below.
Simple Approach That Works
Step 1: Check autoslash, bidding sites and other sites for the lowest available rates
- Find the lowest available rates to use as your starting point
- Priceline has good advertised rates and I can get 30% – 40% savings in my market
- Autoslash will allow you to book your reservation, check for a lower rate until your reservation, then will rebook you at the lower rate and send you a notification
Step 2: Compare lowest available rates against benefit earned through airline or hotel award bonuses
- I check web for coupon codes that provide the most points and miles benefit to me
- I find a balance with the award benefit vs the lowest rate
- Car rental agencies typically charge a frequent flier charge of about 99 cents to earn points or miles
- My go to promotion code is the Avis / US Airways code that gives 3,000 US Airways miles for every rental; expiration is March 31, 2012
- I was earning 3,000 Continental OnePass miles for every rental with Avis but that expired in June, 2011
Step 3: Check car rental coupons to get the lowest rates
- The last step before I book is to see if there are any car rental promotion codes that offer a significant cash savings
- For this approach you can check out the car rental websites or various other promotion sites
Step 4: Book using the option which makes most sense at the time
- This step depends if your goal is to save money or earn the most points and miles
- Make sure you book the best card; Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card gives you 2 points for every dollar spent
- Sometimes booking the lowest rate is a better benefit than earning miles
- My recent rental had mile earning rates around $200 for my market
- Alamo had the lowest rate in my market, so I searched their insider site and found a coupon for $35 off using coupon AD2724FZA
- I ended up spending about $140 for six days instead of spending about $200, realizing a $60 savings!
- If I paid the mile earning rate ($200) and earned 3,000 US Airways miles, I would have essentially purchased miles for about .02 cents per mile (60/3000=.02)
Being flexible and focusing on what makes sense to you is key. My recent rental allowed me to save enough money to outweigh the potential mileage earning gain. Make sure you check airline or hotel promotions to maximize your miles and point earning.
If you have any questions or other options that I missed, please share them in the comment section.
*Points, Miles and Martinis will receive a very small referral credit for reservations booked through the Priceline link in this post. All deals mentioned are ones that I considered for myself.