Just how much will it cost you to rent a car for the holidays? Rental car rates have dropped and become more readily available for tourists since Labor Day.

Of course, the holidays are quickly approaching. We anticipate that average rates will top $100 per day in many parts of the country in the coming days and weeks as demand shrinks for the holidays. During the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, it is not uncommon to find rates in the $50 to $75 range. We are already seeing daily rates of $125-$150 in the New York City area during Thanksgiving.

In the meantime, if you can even find a car to rent during the holidays, you can expect to pay more than $100 per day at major airports in Florida and more than $115 per day at airports in Hawaii. Both Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as many dates in between, are completely booked on the island of Kauai.

How can vacationers avoid paying more and having fewer options to choose from? Here are just a few easy ways to save money:

Plan In Advance And Avoid Prepayment

Our recommendation is that you plan ahead as much as possible and always reserve a car that you can pay for later without using a credit card. This way, you can easily modify your reservation if necessary and take advantage of any price drops or promotions that may arise.

Utilize All Available Discounts

You can save a lot of money on your rental car by using the promotional codes offered by organisations like AAA, Costco, AARP, USAA, and even frequent flyer programmes and credit cards. In some cases, we've seen coupon codes that cut car rental costs by more than half. You can save even more money by combining a promotional code with coupons at some stores.

Check Out Non-Airport Locations

If you find that the rental car agencies at the airport are either full or charge huge rates, it may be worthwhile to look into alternatives. By taking a cab or rideshare to a nearby local office, you can avoid many of the taxes and fees rental companies charge at the airport, and it may even be more convenient, as you can skip the lines and airport shuttle buses. One-way rentals with drop-off at the airport are also an option. If you're comparing prices, don't forget to factor in the time and money it will take you to get to the location from the airport. Also, keep in mind that locations outside of airports typically have shorter hours.

Join Rental Companies' Loyalty Programmes

This year, there aren't as many cars to rent because of the holidays, so there will be long lines at the rental counter. Signing up for car rental loyalty programmes that let you skip the counter is a simple way to get better service. You can join these programmes for free, and in many cases, you can choose your own vehicle so you can get going quickly. If you forget this important step, many companies let you check in online ahead of time, which can also get you going faster.

Be Smart About Add-Ons

At the end of your rental, we suggest you fill the tank yourself. Despite what the car rental company may tell you, prepaying for a full tank of gas is almost never a good idea. 

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