PSA: Rental Car Rates are Sky High, Book ASAP

Good afternoon everyone, I hope your week is going well.  I have a few trips coming up in the next 2-3 months and needed to make 3 rental car reservations.  I always start with AutoSlash and see what deals they can find for me.  As you may know, there is a rental car shortage around the country and I expected rates to be higher than average, but I was not prepared for the sky high rental car rates (rental car rates are more expensive than airline tickets).

Generally, booking rental cars is the last thing I do when I plan a trip (after booking flights and hotels).  Since rental car rates are much higher than normal, I recommend booking rental cars as soon as possible to lock in the cheapest price.  Learn from my mistakes and save hundreds of dollars on your next rental car reservation.

For my first car rental reservation, I needed a 6 day rental for Lihue, Hawaii (island of Kauai) in July.  The *cheapest* rate that AutoSlash could find was over $1,000!

On the Priceline checkout page, it shows a weekly rate of $864 before taxes and fees.


For my second car rental reservation, I needed a 4 day rental for Kona, Hawaii (the Big Island of Hawaii) in July.  The *cheapest* rate that AutoSlash could find was $900!  I wanted an economy size car, but it looks like only intermediate cars were available.

I’m not sure why Priceline does not show the same breakdown with the daily rate and taxes/fees for this Dollar rental car reservation.


For my last car rental reservation, I needed a 2 day rental in Burbank, California in August.  The *cheapest* rate that AutoSlash could find was $300!

On the Priceline checkout page, it shows the daily rate of $111 before taxes and fees.

After I made each car rental reservation, I plugged the details into the AutoSlash Track a Rental page in the hope that AutoSlash could find me a cheaper rate down the road (pun intended).

I received a confirmation email from AutoSlash, so now I have to be patient and hope AutoSlash can find me a cheaper rate.  Then I make a new reservation, cancel the old reservation, and plug the new reservation details into AutoSlash.  It is a continuous process until the day I pick up my rental car.

If you have any questions about booking rental cars with AutoSlash, please leave a comment below.  Have a great day everyone!

23 thoughts on “PSA: Rental Car Rates are Sky High, Book ASAP

  1. Liz

    I’ve never heard of AutoSlash, and I’m thinking of renting a car in September if I visit family in RI, so thank you for posting this! I have only rented a car once before, when my car was in the shop, and I was shocked that the rates were so high.

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      Hi Liz, AutoSlash has been around for years and I have used them 20+ times. They search for all the discounts and deals for you and present the best deals to you via an email. The service is free to users because AutoSlash makes a small commission on the Priceline reservation. Check it out for your next rental car :)

      Reply
  2. ABC

    I use it as well. Just keep in mind that the current market is crazy. Be prepared to be very flexible when you pick up the car (assuming a car is on the lot). Reserved a small/mid sized SUV, only thing left was a giant pickup truck. Yup, it’s hard to parallel park with a giant truck.

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      Hi ABC, that is also a big fear of mine. I just hope I have a few rental car options to pick from when I arrive. Finger’s crossed!

      Did you keep the giant truck for your whole rental or did you swap it out during your rental? How many days was your rental?

      Reply
  3. Xtina

    I love Autoslash which I think I learned about from you many moons ago. I just used them twice today…$1000 for six days on Kauai in an economy car. $1000 for a week in Colorado this summer!

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      Hi Xtina, I’m glad you have loved using AutoSlash over the years. Enjoy your $1,000 rental car in Colorado this summer :)

      Reply
  4. Boardingareaflukie

    I’ve been reading about this rental car shortage and how it has risen rates for over a month now.

    Just rented a car from Avis in Nashville airport at an outrageous price (one of the cheaper ones). The rental car lot was PACKED WITH CARS. No shortage to be seen. I had my pick between like 20 cars in my category which is more than the typical 5.

    I’m calling shenanigans.

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      I think all the rental car companies keep raising rental car rates and no one wants to lower them, otherwise they might start a trend of undercutting each other. I still have 2 months before I pick up my first rental car, so I am hoping the rates come down during that time and I can rebook a cheaper rental.

      Reply
  5. YoLaViajera

    Not sure if you will get one of those notifications from AutoSlash with a cheaper rate. My experience thus far is demonstrating that this summer is REALLY different than any other summer when it comes to car rentals. I made a 10-day car rental reservation for Kauai through Auto Slash back in early March. We’re in late May and usually I would have received a couple of tracking notifications informing me of a lower rate. I really doubt that’s gonna happen this year. In fact, I just checked rates for our dates and they’re literally triple than the rate I currently have… gulp! Good luck, though.

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      I know exactly what you mean. I changed my travel dates for Hawaii by a few days and needed to cancel my existing reservation and book new ones. My original 4-5 day reservations were in the $300-$450 range, now they are 2-3x higher :(

      Reply
  6. Mike Lynch

    Use Turo or rent a car from a dealership. I have a 5-day stay in Park City coming up in July and the cheapest rental car rate I could find was $910 via autoslash. Instead I’m renting from a salt lake City Subaru dealership for $280. If I wanted to rent a car from a private citizen picked up at the airport it was $300.

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      That’s a great idea. I’ll look into renting from a local dealership or on Turo. Never done either before but no better time to try than now :)

      Reply
  7. Jason

    Hey Grant, just a quick suggestion that might save you a few bucks. Take a look at seeing what it would cost you to rent from the same company for both Hawaii rentals. You might end up with enough points for the Burbank rental to be able to be an award redemption. I generally rent from Hertz, and they charge 750 points/day, so it would be more than enough there. Also, if you are dropping $2k just in HI, it might be worth it to rent from a company you have a credit card elite status since you would an elite bonus. Often times most people who do not rent cars often will credit to a frequent flyer program, but with rates like these, you are almost certainly going to do better by crediting to the rental car company’s program (assuming you will rent a car again before the points expire).

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      Hi Jason, that is a great idea. I normally prefer renting with Enterprise, Avis, and Hertz since I have some low level elite status from premium travel credit cards. I usually pick the cheapest option from those 3. I think I have enough for a free 1 day rental with Hertz. I need to check the others. For some of the random rental car companies than I don’t use often, I usually credit to Alaska Airlines.

      Reply
  8. Robert

    I cannot believe it either how a minivan for a rather large family all of a sudden costs around $1K for one week instead of $300 as it used to in MCO.
    Holidayautos is my first choice so search for best prices instead:)

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      Hi Robert, I checked out Holidayautos but the price was over $1,000 for each of my two rentals in Hawaii. It’s just insane!

      Reply
  9. Erik

    We looked at vacation spots for the summer in April. Since most countries are still battling with COVID, we decided to travel within the US this summer. We were surprised to find that rental car rates are so much higher than before. We looked at Alaska, and we couldn’t even find a rental car available. All major car rental websites returned “no cars available” for June, July and August in Anchorage area. After a few frustrating searches in other locations around the country, we ultimately decided to go to Oahu for a 2 week trip, and decided not to get a rental car, and stay in Waikiki area. I think it’s doable without a rental car in Waikiki because the bus system is actually pretty nice and good. And car parking is expensive in Waikiki even before COVID. We will rent motor scooters to get around if we want to go far for the day, or look into Turo car rentals for the day.

    I hope you guys have a fun summer! It’s nice to be finally traveling again after the vaccine!

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      Hi Erik, that sounds like a good plan. Yes, I think you can walk and use the bus system in Oahu / Waikiki pretty easily. You could also rent bikes if you want to get a little farther away. When I looked at Turo the other day, the daily rates I was finding were in the $170 – $200 range, which is about what rental car companies were charging. I hope you have a great summer vacation in Hawaii too :)

      Reply
  10. Erik

    Don’t forget to checkout Groupon for excursions in Hawaii. We decided not to get a rental car, but spend the rental car money on excursions instead. Some of them even pick you up from your hotel. Though, I would get a rental car in the other islands except Oahu. Since the other islands are very car dependent.

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      Yes, this is a great idea. I will check Groupon and Viator for deals and see what is available. For Kauai, we are staying at 2 Vacasa properties, so the hotel pickup won’t work well for us there, unless we walk to a nearby hotel.

      Reply
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