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Car hire is a fantastic option for exploring the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand but it can be pricey. You have to shop around and, with this simple tips, you can slash hundreds of dollars off the cost of your next car hire. Give them a try!


1. Book from Overseas Websites

If you’re booking a car hire it’s often much cheaper to book it from an overseas website rather than using one in country. I find the UK-based companies return the best results. Use a comparison site to search for cheap car hire across multiple car hire companies. Or search the version of the international company you want to book with. We saved over $800 on our three week car hire in the US when we took a road trip around the South Western states by booking with the version of the Dollar website instead of the .com version.


2. Don’t Rent a GPS

Depending on how long your trip is, it could actually be cheaper to buy a GPS unit than to rent one along with the car. We purchased a new GPS off Amazon while in the US for $80 and saved $10 on what it would have cost to rent a unit for the duration of our trip…. plus we got to keep the GPS. Alternatively, buy a local sim with data and use your smartphone.


3. Bring Your Own Car Seats

Hiring car seats through rental companies can be really pricey and cost up to $12 a day per car seat. If you’re not travelling long term or backpacking around, just bring your own car seat. For more tips on taking a road trip with kids check out this post.


4. Book Small

Book the smallest, cheapest car you think you can manage with and then ask for a free upgrade when you pick up. Nine times out of ten you’ll be able to talk your way into an upgrade. Quite often car hire companies rent cars they don’t actually have on premises that day so you’ll end up with a better car than you paid for.


5. Look for Coupons

Always Google for a coupon before you book anything online! Car hire is no exception. You might get 10-15% off across the rental or save a day on a week long rental. It literally pays to check.


6. Don’t Hire Straight from the Airport

Huge surcharges are applied to companies that have an in-airport kiosk and parking. You can save a tonne by going through a company that is based near, but not in, the airport. We did this recently in Australia. Prices from Brisbane airport were astronomical and we saved a over $250 by using an off-airport company. Sure it take a little longer as you have to shuttle to their premises but the savings are worth it. The company we used in Brisbane charged less than half what the standard companies charged for additional items like GPS and car seats. Big savings all around!


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Showing 9 comments
  • Theodora

    That’s interesting. I’ve found the best deals are from traders that exist only in market — so Italian car hire companies in Italy, Greek car hire firms in Greece, etc — although these are hard to track down online. I also found in Italy that downtown pickups were *much* more expensive than airport pickups, so I suspect there’s a wide geographical variation in how car hire behaves — one thing that was typically the case, though, is that you’d get better deals from a less popular airport than from a popular one.

  • wanderingeducators

    Excellent tips. i never thought to check the overseas sites before!

  • Gabi (The Nomadic Family)

    Great tips,Bethaney.This will help a lot people.Nice work.

  • Mary @ Green Global Travel

    Great tips! We always bring our own GPS and get the smallest car that will fit our needs. I’ve found that most of the roads in Europe are small and larger vehicles can be a burden and eat up gas.

  • Sally@Toddlers on Tour

    Great tips. An alternative to hiring car seats through the car hire company could be using a baby hire company – they usually provide quality clean baby equipment at a good price.

  • Larissa

    Good tips, Bethaney. We’ve also found renting from local companies can be a good option. The cars might be a little older, with more mileage, but are still perfectly functional. While touring the South Island of New Zealand, we rented from a local company. We had a 5-year-old Nissan sedan with about 60,000 miles on it that ran well but had a few minor “dings” and rattles. Whenever we went over a bump and heard that rattle, my husband would say “that’s the sound of $300 in savings!”

  • NZ Muse

    We found CarHirePlanet the best pricewise hands down for the USA. Insurance was even included (with a zero excess) in the price. Amazing. Until I found that site I was looking at VroomVroomVroom, which seemed to be the next best. This is all for one-way rentals, though – other sites might be better for typical rentals.

  • Dexterbell

    I really want to thanks you because you had shared very valuable points for saving dollars while hiring the car and all these points would really helped me a lot when i will hire a car in coming future. And this blog has very interesting stuff keep going.

  • Katie (Beach for Baby)

    Great tips. We recently got a $200 surprise in Costa Rica for our car rental when we found out they tacked on mandatory rental insurance. Apparently it’s the law there. Another great idea is to bring the Bubble Bum inflatable booster seat if your child is at least 40 lbs. and 40 ” tall. It fits in a suitcase and is very easy to use!

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