Renting Cars in NYC… Tips!

This look like you?

This look like you?

Renting a car in NYC is an eye opener for those who haven’t done it yet.

* First of all, you have to wait in long unruly lines reminiscent of the ones you suffered on at Space Mountain in Disney World.

* Second you have to put up with nasty customers / counter staff that are just as unhappy to be around you as well.

* Finally you step up to the plate discovering the online quote for $150.00 is now $250.00 with all the add ons, taxes and surcharges. 

Below are a few car rental tips that I’ve garnered after years of living in New York City, which save you time, money and ulcers!

5 Cost saving TIPS for Renting Cars in the City…

1) Book your reservation as far in advance as you can. This isn’t always easy, stuff happens, but make it a practice cause you’ll often not only get the car you want, but you’ll also discover that the rates are much lower than around the holidays or summer weekends. A friend of mine regularly books her entire summer weekend reservations (from Memorial Day thru Labor Day 11-12 cars!) around March or April of that same year!

2)  If you must book the last minute then use this little motto of mine; “Book first… shop later”.Very often, if you book the last minute you’ll find the preferred car or location sold out, then jump into a panic chasing locations and other rental sites. DO NOT DO THIS! you will be chasing your tail and miss out on getting that car that you so desperately need.  Book ANY CAR you can for a time frame before and or after the time you actually need it (ie expand your time or car choice).  Once you have a car, THEN shop around for a better deal. Worst case you’ll have a car which may cost you a bit more.

3) If you can’t find a better deal on one of the other locations or rental sites you can call up the company you did rent from and get your reservation altered over the phone! At the very least you can usually switch to a smaller or bigger car. More often than not they’ll agree to a time change as well. They WANT your business! Be sure to have your “emergency excuse” handy. I’m partial to “My dog was hit by a car!” (PS… I have no dog).

4) If the actual cost of the rental is the problemand not the availability, you can use this little trick to save a pile of cash. Usually the “in city” rental costs are 20%-50% higher than the same car rented from the same company at an out-of-town location. So if you’re heading out-of-town, query the rental sites for satellite office that’s on the same route as you’re going . You’ll find the rental costs much lower. You may be able to take a train, taxi, bus or get a ride from a friend to the out-of-town rental location and save a bundle.

5) CREDIT CARD CHALLENGED?… Don’t have a credit card… or over the limit? Many rental companies will accept a Visa® or MasterCard® backed DEBIT CARD for reservations and payment. This is something you have to set up WAY beforehand but it’s valuable in a crunch. Most companies will allow you to fill out a “debit card” payment form. This form allows the company to check your credit and set up a “hold” capability on your debit card should you need to rent a car.  Creidt Cards provide a “hold” function automatically. Debit Cards do not. Next time you go in to rent a car, ask them if they have a “Debit Card Payment”  program. Then fill out the form and be prepared to wait about 3-4 weeks for approval.  This saves you money in that there are no interest and penalty fees on the use of your Debit Card.

Anyone out there have other ideas? Feel free to comment below.

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