Seattle Car Rental advice for next week!

Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 07:00 AM
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Seattle Car Rental advice for next week!

Hoping the Seattle experts are on the board today -- we just found out that we will need a car rental on our trip to Seattle next week. We are flying into Seattle on Wed night, 2/8 (arrive 9:30pm), and have hotel arrangements at the Springhill Suites in downtown (free Marriott points). Plan to take a cab to the hotel that night. From what I gather on this board and tripadvisor, car rentals at the airport are more expensive than the city due to airport taxes.

So, we plan to get a car rental in the city -- this is where I need your help. We need the car for until 1 week, as we are driving to Portland for a wedding on Thursday, 2/9, then need to drive ourselves back up to catch our flight out of Seattle on 2/14. What is a good option for car rentals? I do rent a lot through my company (National), but have never done this on my own.

Any suggestions on how to get thru the Seattle car rental system would be great. Looking for cheap but reliable options.

BTW -- I know the flight and hotel situation sounds crazy, but we used free air miles for Seattle, and were supposed to carpool to Portland. That fell through last minute, so that's why we're in a last minute situation.

Thanks!! SG
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 07:08 AM
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I'm no expert but I am in Seattle.

You might want to price renting at the airport because a taxi to downtown will cost at least $25 each way plus tip. Or are you allowed to return a downtown rental car to the airport? I'm thinking of logistics for the end of your trip.

We always use Enterprise at my office downtown, they come and get you in their van.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 07:43 AM
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Thanks, good point. I checked the difference (which being a good Fodorite, I should have done BEFORE I posted), the average difference is $40-50 between SEA-TAC and Downtown. I then checked the hotel web-site, and cab fares are approx. $35 one way (plus tip).

So, it does make sense to rent from the airport. Huh. I thought be saving one day on the car rental and getting it from the city would save lots of $$, but guess not.

Okay, next question: if you had to pick between these car rentals, which one would you choose (or not choose)?
- Dollar
- Thrifty
- Budget
- Alamo
- Advantage
- Enterprise
- National

We want to go cheap and reliable, but I don't want to get screwed over either. We are going to be doing a lot of driving!

Thanks again! SG
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 08:03 AM
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Have you looked at hotwire? They use only reputable companies, so even though you don't know which company before you commit, you do know it will be Avis, Budget, or Hertz. We've had very good luck with them - excellent rates.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 09:41 AM
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Valet parking at the hotel will cost you another $20 with the tips.

Hertz Local Edition has an office a few blocks from the hotel, on Yale Ave, maybe 1/2 mile at the most. I think they will pick you up, too. Compact cars go for $130 a week, $175 with taxes, only $10 more for upgrade. You can return the car to airport as long as you book it that way. If you don't have AAA or another discount, try 157348 (US Air frequent flier which you can join online in 2 mins.)
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 09:42 AM
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These are the prices I'm getting for a standard/full size car -- I checked Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity & Priceline, all had exact same prices. This is for a Wed - Tue rental.

Dollar $219
Thrifty $220
Alamo $222
Advantage $240
Budget $257
National $292
Avis $300
Hertz $332

Hotwire $239

Do these prices seem reasonable to you? Again, I have never rented a car for personal reasons, so I have no clue what is good. We need a standard/full size for a family member that has a car seat (we found other people to car pool with!).

Thanks, SG
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 10:21 AM
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I rent cars quite often for business/personal trips, and I've never found any difference in the car rental companies. As your results show, it seems like in the last couple years I've rented from Dollar and Thrifty a lot, as they were usually the cheapest. I would just go with the lowest priced option. I would, however, double check the lowest priced options with the prices on those company's own websites-sometimes they are a bit cheaper when you book directly through the car rental website.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 10:32 AM
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If you trust National then go with them, you can bring that rate down by clicking on the $15 off coupon at nationalcar.com, and entering contract I.D 6600335. (If they ask you for an I.D. card they will accept any supermarket card I.D., but they never ask)
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 10:39 AM
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SG,
Avis, Alamo, Budget, Hertz, and National all have cars actually at the airport as opposed to cars in a parking lot a mile down the road.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 11:05 AM
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The cab will be something like $30 with tip (evidently Yellow cab offers a $25 "flat rate" to downtown hotels from the airport but AFAIK only STITA cabs pick up at the taxi stands at SEA, so confused I am - channeling Yoda today.)

Any of the majors will allow a downtown pickup - airport return. Note that some companies are inside the main terminal garage as opposed to "down the road" so that might expedite your return. Use your best deal with your fave company and enjoy.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 11:49 AM
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<"Do these prices seem reasonable?">

I don't know about reasonable but they sure all seem pretty close to each other.

$35 seems high to me for a taxi from downtown to the airport, but I guess the hotel should know. Yellow Cabs show that $25 flat fee to the airport from downtown on their pricing list stenciled on the window of the cars.

I really think any of the options you are considering are going to come out pretty darn close in price. Rent from the airport, taxi then rent from downtown, save valet parking by taxi to downtown and rent the car the next morning, etc. etc.


Another budget option, you could save money by taking the Greyliner hotel shuttle service or Metro bus from the airport to downtown.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 12:39 PM
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If you've never rented a car before, I'd advise a careful review of the contract. I read a somewhat nervous-making article in the NY Times recently that talks about some of the rather draconian contract terms car-rental companies are starting to impose.

If nothing else, I'd definitely recommend a detailed inspection of the car when you pick it up, with the rental agent, making sure he notes every chip, scratch, ding and little dent on the agreement. Otherwise you might find yourself paying for someone else's damage when you return the car.

Fritzl
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 03:11 PM
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Travelocity gives in my opinion the best comparison of car rental prices. They are laid out by size and rental agency.

Once you have a reservation, go online to the car rental company and join the preferred customer club (avis wizard, Hertz number 1,National Emerald Club, whatever). You get the member number right away. Then have the reservation number added to your preferred itenerary. Then you can avoid the sometimes tedious lines at the rental counter and go straight to the rental lot. It costs nothing to join and saves a bunch of aggravation. Alternately, figure out who you want to use, join the preferred club then book online using the preferred number. Either way, you will be happy you did. For whatever reasons, Seattle gets long rental lines.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 07:16 PM
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Thanks all -- I used Priceline and got a mid-size car for $156 (including taxes & fees) at Alamo -- way better than prices I found on various travel sites and the actualy car rental sites.

I always use National when on business, so I am familiar with checking out the car and contracts (just never really looked at prices). I will join Alamo's customer club to skip the long lines.

Thanks to everyone's quick advice today, I really appreciate it! SG
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Old Feb 3rd, 2006, 12:29 PM
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None of your respondents has mentioned Shuttle Express. You will be sharing a van with 5 or 6 others, but the driver will schlep your bags and the cost is (the last time I used them) twenty bucks.

Interesting information: To find a ride from the airport in the Yellow Pages, don't look under Taxis, look under (drum roll) Airport Transportation.

Bob Gardner
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