What's with US car rental prices

Oct 2nd, 2009, 05:19 PM
  #1  
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What's with US car rental prices

I was thinking about a three week trip out west next summer (we live in New England). I haven't rented a car in the US in many years but have done so frequently in Europe in the last decade. But when I checked out car rental prices I was shocked. A three week rental, picking up in Denver and dropping off in Albuquerque next July is $2500-$3000 (I checked a couple of different sites). By comparison, the same dates in France, picking up dropping off in two cities about the same distance apart as Denver and Albuquerque is $650. Can this be correct? If so why? If not, what am I doing wrong?
isabel is online now  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 05:27 PM
  #2  
J62
 
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Check thrifty.com. I see rates for this fall for as low as $100/week, 2x that for next July.
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Oct 2nd, 2009, 06:30 PM
  #3  
 
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First of all, you are paying extra for a one way trip. But I cannot imagine those prices! Thrifty comes in at under $1500 with tax for 21 days.

I picked 7/11 to 8/1 to check

use kayak.com

Deb
DebitNM is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 06:38 PM
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Two suggestions ... 1) probably paying a premium fee for drop-off in another city and state so price it just for flying in and out of the same airport; and 2) often it's cheaper to rent off airport, because the fees are usually much higher at the airport facility.

Just curious, I went to Priceline.com (where you can see firm rates for several companies side-by-side) and for the last three weeks in June 2010, pickup and dropoff at Denver, I got these non-bid rates:

airport pickup:
economy or compact $255/week base rate, $1048 total w/ fees for three weeks
mid-size SUV $282/week $1,146 total for 3 weeks

off-airport pickup at Hertz
$160/week $588.12 total for an economy car
$215/week $774 Full-sized

Dunno what the extra drop-off fee is for ABQ

And of course you can try bidding and drive the price even lower.
Bill_H is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 07:19 PM
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Priceline doesn't do 1 way car rentals.

Deb
DebitNM is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 07:35 PM
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The prices at airports are insane. You must take a taxi to another site other than an airport for a lower price.

Some airports have high taxes while the car rental comapnies have cut back on the cars aavilable due to cash flow problems caused by the recession.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2009, 06:39 AM
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To use DebitNM's number of $1,500 for 7/11 - 8/1 with drop-off at ABQ here's the comparison to picking up and dropping off at the same airport for those particular dates:

$1,048 pickup at DEN airport
$588.13 from Hertz off-airport in Denver

$465 at ABQ airport (same off-airport in Albuquerque)

So you would save ~ $1,000 using only ABQ, or about $900 if renting off-airport in Denver.

These are the listed prices, typically you could bid instead of paying list price and perhaps save an additional 20% or so ...

Since it's less than a 7 hour drive from Denver to ABQ I'd personally try to fly in/out from the same airport, probably ABQ.
Bill_H is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2009, 08:00 AM
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I agree with Bill, if at all possible, fly in and out of one airport and ABQ is a good one [some great airfares on Southwest, depending on where you are coming from]. And most definitely bid on Priceline using the name your own price. Only thing, if you get an accepted bid there are NO REFUNDS for any reason, it is prepaid, done deal. This far out, that might be a concern. You could always book a car now on actual car rental site that you can cancel without penalties, and then try for Priceline the closer you get to trip. Summer is high season out here, so you may not get rock bottom price on priceline, but what they heck, nothing to lose if you wait till you are sure of trip.

That being said, IF you HAVE to use 2 airports, use off airport for pickup in DEN to save a bit and then bite the bullet for the one way drop off fee in ABQ.

Deb
DebitNM is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2009, 09:19 AM
  #9  
 
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Are you a Costco member? Lately, I've found the best deals using their coupon codes, available online.

Also, some companies will discount a certain class of vehicle for one way rental in certain markets in order to redistribute their fleet. I always ask about this option when doing a one way rental.
Iregeo is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2009, 11:47 AM
  #10  
 
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Agree with the posts above - you can get a much better price off-airport (avoiding all of the extra taxes and fees). You will pay extra to drop off in another state, but IMHO it;s worth it not to have to backtrack.

What you haven;t told us is what type of car you're looking at. If you want a full-size SUV I'm not surprised by those prices. To get a decent price you need to stick with an economy of compact car - but that might not be feasible given the size of your group and luggage.

And you also need to look at seasonality. In NYC high season (summer weekends) a mid size car is about $160 per day including taxes - but in winter will be only about half that.
nytraveler is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2009, 11:51 AM
  #11  
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Thanks for all the replies. I hadn't realized using an off airport site made such a difference (as I said, I've only rented in Europe in the last few years, and it doesn't add much if anything to pick up at airports, or to drop off at different locations within the same country). Even though it's only 7 hours drive between Alb and Denver, it still adds a day (and night in motel) to the trip to do that. But certainly something to consider.

I guess I was just thinking that a vacation in my own country would be at least as cheap and easy, if not more so, than going all the way to Europe but apparently not. For years I've been "defending" my Euro trips by saying it's not that much more money or trouble, I guess now I can honestly say it's not any more.
isabel is online now  
Oct 3rd, 2009, 11:54 AM
  #12  
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NYtraveler - I guess we were posting at the same time. No, I was pricing out the smallest possible car. And I know summer is high season just about everywhere but that's when I can travel (whether it be here or Europe, at least for a three week trip. I"m actually going to France in Nov this year and am delighted at the bargains I'm finding in the way of hotel rooms - like 45 eruo in Nice and 70 in Paris).
isabel is online now  
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