Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hawaii Car Rental

The best rental car deal is at:

I looked at discounts from various airline mileage programs (e.g. triple bonus miles), coupon deals, and Costco. I've done this a couple times for different trips, and find that always gives the best rates with no hassle. Here's what I found:

Tip 1: Always book a car reservation. I have a friend who worked at Enterprise during college. He said that there are no regulations on how much to charge a person for a daily car rate when they walk in the door without a reservation--there's a suggested range, but no regulation. Employees are thus encouraged to size up the customer when they walk in the door and then estimate how high they can charge a person. The price of your rental may differ from the next person who orders the same car model and dates and hours rented. Pretty sneaky, eh? I called by phone today and found that by far, booking online gives you much better rates.

Tip 2: The cheapest rates are when you reserve a pick up at 12noon...and return time at 12noon. This may not be the most optimal pick up and drop off times for you, but here's what you do. If you book a reservation at noon, you can always pick up a car earlier than noon...just keep in mind that the time will just start ticking the minute you leave the lot. 11am say, instead of 12 noon.

Tip 3: So what happens if you want to return the car later than 12noon? Car Rental policies charge a late fee for the first 1-2 hours past your initial pick up time at the airport. Thereafter, they will charge for one extra day's rental. So you'll have to do the the extra day's rate cheaper than booking for your exact desired drop off time? The average daily car rental rate is $30/day in Honolulu; $20/day in Maui. In my case, I'd rather pay the $30 extra day than the extra $60 cost if I were to book at the exact times I need.

For example:
Actual Rental Car Times Needed: Monday Pick up at HNL 11:30am; Friday Drop off at 9:30pm
My Costco Reservation: Monday Pick up at 12noon; Friday Drop off at 12noon (Cost $120)
Alternative Costco Price: Monday Pick up at 11:30am; Friday Drop off at 9:30pm (Cost $180)

So...I would pay $120 plus $30 late charge = $150 for five days (vs. $180)
The bottom line is that booking from noon to noon saves me $30.

Hope this helps. Happy car renting!

[For those not renting a car and needing hotel shuttle, please see my post on Airport Shuttle and Taxi services]

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