6 Car Rental Alternatives That Can Save $150 a Day or More

Just as people are ready to travel again, the rising prices of car rentals are making the cost of some vacations prohibitive. As of mid-May, in New York City and Jacksonville, Florida, a mid-size SUV costs $193 per day to rent, while the same car rental costs $249 per day in Indianapolis. These prices are before taxes and fees.

When the pandemic placed restrictions on business and pleasure travel, car rental companies sold thousands of rental cars that were empty on their plots. Now there is a huge shortage of rental cars and prices through the sunroof. Some travelers even turn to renting U-Hauls and trucks from home improvement stores in cities where a rental car isn’t available, no matter the price.

Mary Zweng is one of thousands of people who suffer from sticker shock from car rental prices. Her daughter is having a small wedding in Napa Valley, California, in June. Zweng booked a March car rental for $60 a day in San Francisco.

“That was for me and my husband. I called in May to reserve one for my son and the price doubled.” “I worry that they might not even have cars left for rent in San Francisco if other guests wait until the last minute to book.”

There are actually plenty of ways to get around on vacation without overspending with traditional car companies. Don’t let the cost of car rental make you cancel your trip or spend money you don’t have.

Here are 6 alternatives to traditional car rental companies

1. Try a car-sharing company

Think Airbnb, but for cars. Customers access privately owned cars through an app or website. Car owners must have insurance and maintenance coverage required for their vehicles. Drivers who rent must meet criteria similar to what traditional car rental companies require such as a valid driver’s license.

This is a proven concept in the sharing economy. Ten-year-old Turo is a national car-sharing company, while 11-year-old Getaround operates in more than a dozen major cities. Some markets have their own car-sharing alternatives such as eGo CarShare in Colorado in Denver and Boulder and Hoi CarShare in Hawaii.

Here’s the cost of renting with Toro and Gitarod car sharing compared to two traditional car rentals for a four-day weekend rental in June in Chicago.

$50 a day for a 2018 Ford Escape SUV

$39 a day for a 2010 Toyota Corolla

$61 a day for a 2016 Ford Escape

$47.50 per day for a 2013 Toyota Corolla

$249 per day for a newer Ford Escape-like vehicle

$108 a day for a newer Toyota Corolla-like car

$249 per day for a newer Ford Escape-like vehicle

$91 a day for a newer Toyota Corolla-like car

Turo and Getaround offer 24 hour roadside assistance if chosen by the customer or vehicle owner.

Some airports will not allow Turo owners and renters to exchange keys at the airport, so you may have to arrange to pick up your car from a nearby location.

2. Try Zipcars instead of car rental companies

Zipcar is traditionally for people who think car ownership is overrated but need to have access to the car for a few hours. The company, owned by the Avis Budget Group, is especially popular with college students who don’t have their own cars, to grab a car on campus and use it to run errands. A special access code allows customers to unlock cars with their phones.

But now the daily rate for a Zipcar can be cheaper than what traditional car rental companies charge.

Zipcars generally cost $11 an hour and $80 to $90 a day. Even if you have to join Zipcar and pay the $7 membership fee for the month you rent, it’s an alternative to saving extra cash on your vacation.

3. Borrow a friend’s car

Lara Siri recently took a last-minute trip from Phoenix to the Tampa Bay area for a friend’s memorial party. She let some friends in her former land know she had been flying for a week and soon had alternatives to renting a car.

“Before I knew it, I had a friend on each side of the bay offering to let me use their car,” Siri said. “I didn’t have to rent at all. It was very flattering from them.”

Since both the owners and Cerri have insurance even in the event of an accident, the vehicle will be covered.

The lesson here is to spread the word that you’ll be in town and to ask if anyone has a car they wouldn’t use, even if no one offered it. Just make sure the tank is filled with gas when you return it as a thank you to the car owner and don’t expect roadside assistance at 2am

4. Vacation in a city with good public transportation

You don’t have to worry about car rental if you can get around on light rail, trolleybus, tram, bus or subway. Not only do you avoid the cost of renting a car, you save money by not paying for fuel or parking.

Many cities have mass transit options to get from the airport to the city center as well as to popular sites and uncrowded road areas. Some are free while others offer a pass for around $5 per day that allows you to ride as much as you want.

And there is no shortage of bike rentals in a major city or small town. At hundreds of locations there are self-service bike rental stations. Many also have self-service e-bike rental stations, which can help the rider reach an average of 20 to 28 mph with moderate pedaling depending on bike style.

5. Take the bus or shuttle to visit many places

Instead of relying on a rental car to get from one vacation spot to another, take the bus. For example, buses leave Boston all day and night to various places along Cape Cod for about $50 per person, round trip.

Even for a family of four who went to Cape for three days after a historic weekend in Boston, this saves money. Better to spend $200 on everyone getting there and back than $200 a day renting a car equal to $600 over three days.

On the opposite coast, a round-trip costs $30 to take a Greyhound from Los Angeles to San Diego, while a standard four-door rental car in Los Angeles costs about $170 per day.

6. Fly with discount airlines instead of renting a car to get somewhere else مكان

Apply the same thought process from above to flight. Don’t pay $600 to rent a car for three days to get to your second destination. Travel instead and let the airlines buy gas. Many airlines offer one-way flights for $19 to $50. Here are some tips to find cheap flightsOne of the fastest alternatives to driving.

Katherine Snow Smith is a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder.

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