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Rapid Travel Chai: Rental Car Savings at Frequent Travelers University Seattle 2014

How to save on rental cars from finding the best rates to avoiding fees. Portals such as Costco, BJ's, Capital One, Chase and Citi are tested to find the best deals. Insurance and other extras are discussed for what you need and don't The final section looks beyond the US to renting and driving internationally.

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Rapid Travel Chai: Rental Car Savings at Frequent Travelers University Seattle 2014

  1. 1. Rental Car Savings Stefan Krasowski Rapid Travel Chai
  2. 2. What is Your Priority? ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved Leisure? Business? Domestic? International?
  3. 3. My Rental Car Experience Rented cars weekly for 2 years of NY-Atlanta commute Lots of short US trips for 1-2 people International rentals in many countries Fender benders in US Breakdown in Bulgaria Smash and grab in Toronto Wife threatening divorce in Saudi Arabia ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  4. 4. Itinerary Rental Agencies Portals Hotwire and Priceline More Deals Extras and How to Avoid Them International Strategy ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  5. 5. Goal Setting Reserving: You can spend a lot of time to save a little money Renting: You can save a little money to have a lot of aggravation Set goals and stick to them! ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  6. 6. Rental Car Tradeoff Hypothetical When to not save $10: Orlando, FL car rental Spring break Huge lines at counter Eye-rolling spouse Screaming children ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved When to save $10: Moline, IL car rental Always off-peak No lines No spouse No children
  7. 7. Rental Agencies ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  8. 8. Alamo Insiders for skip the line and free additional driver No rewards program Few big miles and points promos Alamo ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  9. 9. Avis Preferred – skip the line Avis First – 12 rentals/35 days or Chase Ink; weekend certs Avis President’s & Chairman’s – invitation only Double-dip with Avis Corporate Rewards Lots of miles & points promos: SAS & Virgin Atlantic 1,000 miles for 1-day rental Club Carlson 9000 points for 3-day rental Avis ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  10. 10. Lots of international locations RapidRez profile + FastBreak to skip the line Technically need 3 rentals/year to keep FastBreak No rewards program Budget ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  11. 11. Dollar Express/Thrifty Blue Chip to skip the line Enroll for rewards: 16 rental days = 1 free day Few big miles and points promos Watch for scammy fees like huge daily toll charges Dollar/Thrifty ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  12. 12. Tons of US neighborhood locations Enterprise Plus: Stingy, complicated rewards program Must register, then separately opt in for rewards Can credit National rentals to Enterprise No miles and points promos Enterprise ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  13. 13. Gold Plus Rewards - earn and redeem in many countries Five Star/President’s Cirlce = 7/20 rentals per year Platinum membership fee $1,200-$1,500 per year Amex Platinum – 4-hour grace period (must use CDP & pay) Amex Open Business – 3-10% discount or 1-4 points bonus Hertz ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  14. 14. Emerald Club: 1 rental = 1 credit (8 day rental = 2 credits, 12 = 3, etc) Free days are 7/6/5 credits depending on elite status Credit Enterprise rentals to National Regular 1-2-Free promo is generous Exec Exec Elite 12 rentals or 25 days or Amex Platinum Exec Elite 40 rentals or 80 days Emerald Club Aisle – must reserve midsize or higher National ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  15. 15. Watch the fees, see Travel by Points: http://bit.ly/1mF4AOY Offers constantly come and go, always check fine print Avis has lots of offers: SAS & Virgin Atlantic 1,000 miles for 1-day rental Club Carlson 9,000 points for 3-day rental Delta & Hertz often have good offers Earning Miles & Points ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  16. 16. Double-dip with corporate programs Corporate Programs ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  17. 17. Portals ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  18. 18. Membership or credit card to book (maybe not to rent) Discounts/coupons are quarterly, best deals within 3 months Typically cannot earn awards or miles Typically cannot skip the line with frequent renter program Typically few international locations Often saves a lot of money Portal Basics ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  19. 19. Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise – can add frequent renter Fully flexible – no credit card required Good for large vehicles Low price finder not perfect – test coupons manually Costco Travel ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  20. 20. Similar to Costco but adds Dollar, Hertz & National BJ’s Travel ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  21. 21. Must have Capital One card, but can pay with any card Pay with points or cash Prepaid but can cancel up to 24 hours before rental Capital One ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  22. 22. Same platform, often same pricing Chase must pay with registered card Pay with points or cash Prepaid but can cancel up to 24 hours before rental No one-ways or off-airport Chase Ultimate Rewards & Citi ThankYou ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  23. 23. Hotwire and Priceline ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  24. 24. The Hotwire and Priceline Tradeoff Why to Not Use: No changes, no refunds* Unpleasant surprises* No elite status recognition* No miles and points* *There are always exceptions and luck ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved Why to Use: Save Money
  25. 25. Hotwire and Priceline Fees!#$ Hotwire Priceline opaque rates often loaded with fees Do not compare per day rates Do compare total price ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved Portland 1 day car: Expedia $18/day=$23 total vs Priceline $18 bid=$29.34
  26. 26. Rates often not as good as flexible reservation portals (Costco, Capital One, Chase, etc.) Guaranteed major agency – but includes Dollar/Thrifty No off-airport, no one-way Must be age 25+ Hotwire Hot Rates ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  27. 27. Pick-up up to 24 hours late – book Sun night, pick-up Mon (call agency to hold a car on peak times) Hotwire Hot Rates ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved Atlanta Sun 10 pm pick-up $63.65 vs Mon 8 am $81.26
  28. 28. Always unlimited miles (important for international) 30-minute grace period on returns Extensions at agency rates – can be very expensive All add-ons billed at agency rates (e.g. Dollar/Thrifty huge toll charges) Hotwire Hot Rates ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  29. 29. Rates often 10-30% lower than Hotwire Alamo, Avis, Budget, Hertz, and National only My experience is most often Avis Rates not always available – change search parameters No off-airport, no one-way Always unlimited miles (important for international) Extensions and add-ons at agency rates Drivers under 25 allowed for additional fees Priceline Name Your Own Price® ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  30. 30. Example: Wilmington, NC Aug 23-25, midsize car Step 1: Get a baseline at Hotwire or others: Priceline Cars – Bidding Strategy ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved Hotwire $17.95/day, $57.84 total
  31. 31. Step 2: Priceline Lowball Test Enter a lowball bid and click “Choose” Priceline Cars – Bidding Strategy ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  32. 32. Step 2 (cont): Lowball triggers “low chance of being accepted” Priceline Cars – Bidding Strategy ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved If you don’t get this screen, you are starting too high
  33. 33. Step 2 (cont): “Previous Page” and step up the bids Priceline Cars – Bidding Strategy ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  34. 34. Step 2 (cont): Priceline Sweetspot when goes to offer page Priceline Cars – Bidding Strategy ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved You’re not done yet!
  35. 35. Step 3: Bid around Priceline Sweetspot For short, economy rentals, $1-$2 under often works Longer rentals and bigger cars can widen the gap Can be more aggressive depending on lead time Priceline Cars – Bidding Strategy ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved Needed car next day so bid $16, final price $54.36 with Hertz
  36. 36. Same trip wait 24 hours to re-bid Can immediately re-bid for different car type (up or down) Compact may be same price as economy Change return date may allow re-bid (e.g. Tue 6 am, then try Mon 11 pm – you get the car for 24-hour days) 1-2 weeks in advance is good time to bid Priceline Cars – Re-Bidding ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  37. 37. Warning: use at your own risk Enter the wrong credit card security code Or enter a low balance Visa/MC/Amex gift card Priceline Re-Bidding Hack ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  38. 38. If bid is accepted you get a processing error If not accepted, no processing error You can enter correct number or abandon Priceline does not (yet) hold customers to the purchase Priceline Re-Bidding Hack ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  39. 39. Can try to have multiple accounts (use at your own risk): Register a different email address Don’t repeat exact personal info Don’t use same credit card Don’t use same computer & connection Or different browser + VPN to switch IP Priceline Multiple Accounts ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  40. 40. Other Deals ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  41. 41. Check out Million Mile Secrets 12-Part Cheap Car Rentals http://millionmilesecrets.com/category/rental-cars/ Endless Sources to Try ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  42. 42. OTAs are mainly a starting point, rarely the best deal Kayak is useful for meta-search Priceline often has good flexible rates Are OTAs Useful? ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  43. 43. $20 for $40 certificates at Alamo, Enterprise, National Read the exclusions, except some hassles in redemption Check out FrequentMiler: http://bit.ly/1hoI3Vy Discover Certificates ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  44. 44. Corporate codes can be useful IF YOU ARE ELIGIBLE Often good for eliminating one-way fees Risky to use non-eligible codes – invalidate insurance Corporate Codes ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved SEA-PDX: $62 vs $198 with my corporate code
  45. 45. Check locations on agency websites Reach by walk, hotel shuttles, public transport Verify hours – closed Sunday, charge till Monday May pick you up (but not at airport) May drop you off (possibly at airport) Many portals do not include off-airport Off-Airport ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  46. 46. Atlanta Mon peak: airport $66.71 vs off $48.15/day Off-Airport Example ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved Verify Business Hours One Subway Stop Away
  47. 47. Cashback deals for rental agencies and OTAs Always check the fine print, especially for OTAs Don’t Foget Cashback Portals ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  48. 48. Extras and How to Avoid Them ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  49. 49. Most credit cards provide CDW secondary to any insurance Chase United Explorer and Diners Club are primary Amex Premium Rental Protection is primary but only CDW ($19.95/$24.95 per rental) If you are comfortable using your own auto insurance, you don’t need CDW Business cards typically limited to business rentals Example: smash and grab in Toronto on business rental with Chase Ink Plus – claim process took 3 months Insurance - CDW ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  50. 50. Credit cards only cover CDW, nothing else!!! Liability – state mandated minimums enough for you? Personal Accident, Theft – evaluate based on your needs Insurance - Other ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  51. 51. 1. Avis, Budget & Enterprise – free for spouse or partner 2. Alamo, Hertz & National – free for program members 3. Book through Costco Travel portal 4. AAA, AARP & USAA membership & using their codes 5. California law See details at Million Mile Secrets: http://bit.ly/QAZ8Bv Additional Drivers ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  52. 52. 20 years old can rent with Hertz, 21 at other agencies Under 25 surcharge varies by agency and state, $15+/day Free membership with USAA (no military affiliation required) and book with their codes waives the fee at Avis, Budget, Enterprise and Hertz See details at Million Mile Secrets: http://bit.ly/QHW0nc Young Drivers ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  53. 53. Most agencies charge per toll plus daily fee for entire rental Dollar/Thrifty charges per day for unlimited tolls Trip one toll and you are charged for the ENTIRE rental Ways to avoid: 1.Get a toll pass for frequent destinations 2.Pay tolls online with toll authority right after rental Tolls ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved Welcome to Newark - $17.49/day
  54. 54. Refill or prepay The less than 75 mile rental scam – must have fuel receipt Fuel ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  55. 55. International ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  56. 56. International Driving Exhilarating or stressful? Is driving the best option? Will your companions be a nuisance? ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  57. 57. International Driving Alternative Charter a taxi for a day • Pick a moving taxi, not one parked by your hotel • Test driver first with a short trip • Be very clear about route, time and costs ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  58. 58. My Guide to International Driving Driving on the left is surprisingly easy Driving a manual in tight, hilly European towns is not easy Automatics are rare and expensive ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  59. 59. International Driving Permit Valid only for 1 year, can be forward dated for trip Need to get in home country (get at AAA in US) Relatively few countries insist on IDP to rent Absolutely must have in Japan and South Korea Must carry driver license as well ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  60. 60. International Booking Booking sites often ‘location not found’/’sold out’ Try rental agency websites Try AutoEurope for unlimited mileage (not just for Europe) ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  61. 61. International Rental Process Major agencies are almost all local franchise Rarely get elite benefits (some exceptions like Australia) Slow, slow, slow rental process in many countries Frequent renter program preferences can mess things up like insurance options that are not equivalent (ex: I have had Avis US liability become EU Supercover) ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  62. 62. International Gotchas High mileage charges – I had a 0 km rate in Macedonia! After-hours pick-up/drop-off charges – especially Europe Winterization – Europe again Mandatory insurance – Mexico & Central America Cross-border fees and paperwork One-way drop charges Administrative fees for traffic violations ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  63. 63. The Avis/Budget Home Currency Scam Avis/Budget default opt your credit cards to bill in home currency at terrible rate plus 3% fee Update each card and rebook any existing reservations ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved Uncheck!!!
  64. 64. International Gotchas ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved Riga, Latvia: $43 to pick up at 8 pm! Ayers Rock: 100 km fee + $0.23 per km!
  65. 65. International Insurance Credit card CDW exclusions – Ireland, Israel, Italy and more Many Chase and Citi cards now cover ALL countries – get certificate of coverage for rental agency (Ireland, Israel) Insurance often mandatory, sometimes included in rate: • Canada rates include liability • Mexico/Central America required adding liability • Basic CDW included in Europe – Supercover enhances • Kuwait temporary license and insurance ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  66. 66. International GPS T-Mobile phone with free data in 120+ countries Offline map apps for iPhone and Android GPS device – buy region map chips on ebay ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  67. 67. Strategy ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  68. 68. My goal: economy to mid-size for cheap 1. Baseline check at Hotwire 2. Costco or Capital One provisional booking 3. Recheck 2-3 months out (new portal coupons) 4. Recheck and try Priceline 1-2 weeks out My key: keep discipline to avoid endless rate searches My US Strategy ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  69. 69. My goal: basic car, no surprises 1. Check portals (though often cannot find location) 2. Check agencies & verify location, hours, charges 3. Check OTAs like AutoEurope and Priceline My key: major agency with unlimited mileage My International Strategy ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  70. 70. Seattle economy rental May 12-15 Costco: Enterprise $118 BJ’s: Enterprise $129 A Sample Test ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  71. 71. Capital One: Enterprise $123 Chase & Citi (often the same): Budget $151 A Sample Test (cont.) ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  72. 72. Priceline (not Name Your Own Price): Budget $141 Hotwire: $128 A Sample Test (cont.) ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  73. 73. The winner: Costco Enterprise $118 Compare to enterprise.com: $129 For peak/holiday times the savings are usually bigger Costco can cancel and skip line with Enterprise Plus A Sample Test (cont.) ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  74. 74. What’s Your Strategy? ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  75. 75. Thank You stefan@rapidtravelchai.com @rapidtravelchai rapidtravelchai.com ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved