I got an email recently from a FCF reader friend, Jane, with questions about cheap car rentals. Here's what she said:

I've been talking about your site all day 🙂 Do you have any suggestions on how to find the best deal on car rental places? I always see rates for starting at 9.99 a day or 13.99 a day and yet when I go online it's much much higher. When I called them directly it was more than doubled the price! Please help, heading to Orlando Intl Airport in early March. 

Well, Jane, I'm happy to help! I have to admit, I'm no pro with car rentals. I've rented a few cars but lately we've done mostly cruises (no car needed) or traveled to where family is and just borrowed cars.

Thus…

I went to my good ol' Madre on this one because she is a pro. I definitely inherited the frugalista gene from her! She is the queen of traveling, and often rents cars when she travels. In fact, she just got back from Florida recently! Here are some tips she has:

  • Booking online is often cheaper
  • Just google something like “Cheap car rentals” or “Discount car rentals in Orlando, FL”, and just start comparing. Do your research!
  • The big names are going to cost the most (Hertz, Enterprise, etc.)
  • Look for ones off-site from the airport. You will most likely have to take a shuttle or taxi there, but they are often much cheaper.
  • Advantage has been cheapest for me in the past.
  • Rent-A-Wreck is great.  “Cheapest I've ever found…and they aren't wrecks.” They are often small shops, thus you sometimes can't book it online; you have to call. “But it's like $12 or $15 a day which is much cheaper than most others.”
  • Don't be afraid of the off-brands!
  • Sometimes you can get a package with your airline. “I've found good deals through Southwest before.”
  • Lastminute.com has been a good site for me in the past.
  • Don't be up-sold! Never get any of the insurance they try to sell you, your insurance should cover you if something happens.
  • Never buy the gas from them, they will charge you for a full tank whether you use a full tank or not…even though they tell you it's cheaper, just don't do it.
  • Don't buy an upgrade, just don't do it! “I have learned that an economy car you'll probably have to hand-crank the windows, compact car is automatic and electronic, but you don't need fancy.”
So there you have it, wise words from my momsie herself. Isn't she cute?
Thanks mom, and Jane – I hope that helps!
HERE is another article with helpful tips.
Good luck in Florida.