I hate paying extra rental car fees. Rental car companies are undoubtedly even worse than the airlines when it comes to extra fees. For family travelers, you can easily be hit with fees for car seat rental, additional drivers, dropping at a different location, navigation systems, and even electronic toll passes. And we haven’t even talked about the exorbitant insurance rental car companies offer. I make it my mission to avoid as many of these fees as possible.
My usual trick for avoiding many of these fees is simply using my AAA benefits with Hertz. Hertz offers one free car seat rental to AAA members and also doesn’t charge additional driver fees to Hertz Gold Plus members (free to join). That solves most of the fee problems for my family, as we normally only need an additional driver to trade out driving duties and sometimes a car seat. Although Hertz is often a pricier rental car company, AAA discount codes are generous. I almost always break about even with the budget rental car places with a little effort.
Since my AAA/Hertz hacks have worked so well for me the past few years, so I rarely look elsewhere for rental cars. Alas, Hertz rates were truly prohibitive for my upcoming Deep South road trip in August, so I had to get more creative.
The cheapest rate on the major car rental sites for my trip was with Thrifty, a truly bare bones operation where I’d be hit with a lot of fees. Autoslash (a favorite of fellow family travel blogger Points With a Crew and a site I often use too) also didn’t produce any deals.
It had been awhile since I’d given Costco Travel a look, so I went there next. With my Costco membership discount, I found a rate on Alamo that was even cheaper than the best Thrifty rate. But best of all, the rate included an additional driver at no charge.
Booking through Costco Travel appears to waive this fee for Budget, Enterprise, and Avis also (Costco also offers discounted GPS fees on Budget and Avis rentals). Since my family will be going on a 7 day road trip, we really needed to be able to have my husband and I both drive the car for convenience and to share toddler-wrangling duties. Having that fee waived for a 7 day rental was significant.
To be sure, there won’t be a free car seat with this rental like there is with Hertz, but that was not a necessity for this trip. In fact, I prefer to bring my own car seat when we will be doing a lot of driving on a trip for safety anyway (for more tips on air travel with car seats, don’t miss my three part guide to car seats on planes).
I will, of course, keep monitoring rental car options as the weeks pass. Often rates will drop, and I never want to miss out on that. Finding a good rental car deal is a constant and ongoing process, but I’m happy with the option that Costco Travel gave me for now.
Have you used Costco Travel to save on rental cars? What is the best deal you’ve found?