Rental Car Rates Up

November 16, 2009
Michael Sheehan

According to a recent survey, car-rental fees not only haven't gone down because of the stumbling economy, but they've actually gone up by almost 50% since the credit crisis hit last October.

The recession has battered portfolios and sent unemployment levels to double digits, but there have been some silver linings among the clouds. For those lucky consumers with money to spend, for instance, the recession has offered a wide array of travel bargains. As the number of travelers sank, those who did take to the road or to the air found lower costs on airline and railroad fares, lodging, and even gasoline, at least for a while. The one area of the travel industry that hasn’t responded to the economic downturn with low-price deals is car rentals.

According to a recent survey, car-rental fees not only haven’t gone down because of the stumbling economy, but they’ve actually gone up by almost 50% since the credit crisis hit last October. The average daily rate on a midsize car booked a week in advance has gone from $64.56 to $93.06 in the past year, according to the survey. Because rental fleets are down by 25% to 50%, say travel industry consultants, the smaller supply of cars has allowed prices to rise, even in the face of weaker demand.

If you’re looking to rent a car, you can save some cash if you belong to a group that gets a break on rental fees. At Best-Rental-Car-Tips.com, you’ll find discount codes for groups ranging from AAA to Wal-Mart Shoppers. Because of airport taxes, you can also save as much as 10% by skipping the car-rental counter at the airport and picking up a car in your destination city. Also check to see if your personal auto insurance policy covers damage to the rental. If it does, you can take a pass on the pricey rental company liability coverage.