Are rental cars in demand?

The chips they have will produce the fully equipped cars, trucks and SUVs that provide them with the highest profit margin. That leaves just a trickle of the basic economy cars that car rental companies buy by the thousands. Of Kayak's current list of the 10 most expensive cities to rent a car, half are in Hawaii, where car rental companies have struggled to replace their fleets to keep up with demand, partly due to the remoteness of the islands. A short ride on Uber or public transport to a place where rental cars are less in demand could mean substantial savings on car rental.

To save on car rental, you should almost always book at an outside car rental branch rather than at the airport. Both configurations favored car rental companies, but the recent shortage means that manufacturers now have the upper hand and no longer have to sell vehicles at a loss. Those 10 areas were then ranked based on car rental prices from lowest to highest to give us a better idea of the cheapest metropolitan areas for renting cars. The analysis analyzed the price of a one-week rental at eight of the major car rental companies based on the cheapest car available at the company (typically a small sedan).

Renting a car from these companies is a more complicated task than simply going to the rental counter at an airport. The online travel search engine Kayak expects that the shortage of rental cars will continue at least until the end of the year, according to a review of searches and prices on its site. Calvin Kanoho, an advisor for San Francisco-based Inner Circle Travel, said that as soon as he books a trip for customers, one of the first things he does is also book a rental car. Most car rental companies have offices at the airport and outside the airport and prices tend to vary between these locations.

Finally, you'll find a much wider variety of cars in these apps than you're used to in a car rental registry. Given the unpredictability of travel, it might make sense to book a rental car as soon as you can. Vacation travelers who intend to rent a convertible for a ride along the coast or take a four-wheel-drive vehicle for the ski season should continue planning well in advance, according to analysts and advisors who follow the car rental market. If you have a business email address, Lyft even allows you to create a business profile and access corporate rental rates for personal trips through its platform.

NerdWallet conducted an analysis of 360 rental vehicle prices (including taxes and fees) to better understand rental vehicle price trends.

Grégory Brazelton
Grégory Brazelton

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