IWhether it's for work or fun, hubs and I have the pleasure of traveling around a lot. We are really lucky! We've definitely seen our fair share of rental cars, and they are NOT created equal. They typically start out generally cheap (for something that barely fits the two of us), but once you start making your way up to anything relatively special or fast, they can get expensive SUPER quick. Hubby likes to race cars, so it is usually pretty important to him to have a decent auto if we are gone for a while. We have been lucky enough to get some fun/fast/husband approved cars so I wanted to share some of our experiences with getting great rental cars without spending like we did. Keep scrolling!
I would say most of the luxury cars we have driven were through Sixt (including the BMW above!) This rental car company mainly focuses only on luxury vehicles. I've never seen them on an Expedia or Kayak style website, so if you want to book them you have to go through their website directly. And yeah, they have really great prices on luxury cars. However, there have been a number of times where I have vowed we are never using them again. We have waited hoursss in line to pick up a vehicle. Sometimes the vehicles are not in the greatest condition on the inside and outside. Often their prices are pretty basic and don't include any sort of extras (ie insurance). They make you pay extra per day for any additional drivers. (**however I recently learned that there are a couple states that require rental car companies to allow spouses to be able to both drive the car without any additional fees and California is one of them! But if you are driving across multiple states make sure to check those laws**) Our most recent experience with Sixt in Germany was actually really great though (and there's a funny/crazy story about that I'm sharing down below) so I guess it is a hit or miss, but definitely worth considering!
Join a Loyalty Program
Since Bjorn travels a lot for business, his work often pays for a rental car for him. I think it is super important to stay consistent with loyalty programs instead of bouncing around from cheapest company to cheapest company because a lot of companies have really great reward programs. We have had completely free vacations just from utilizing flight/hotel/rental car points. For domestic rental cars, we generally use National. When you become one of their top tier rewards members, a lot of times you will have your own check in/concierege whatever helping you get your car. I have found these people to be super generous with upgrades when they are available because they want you to feel special and keep coming back to them. Our most recent free upgrade was a Mercedes suv! <3
Don't Be Afraid to Ask and Haggle
Most of us book our rental cars online in advance, so the price may seem pretty fixed. But there have been many times when we rolled up to the rental car lot, and were able to negotiate a lower price on an upgrade. If the counter is pretty abandoned and the car lot is pretty full (especially of higher end cars) the likelihood of you haggling a cheap upgrade is very plausible! The car makes the company nothing if it is just sitting there, so they are really willing to get a couple extra bucks in exchange for putting you in a nicer car. Either we ask how much extra the upgrade would cost, or the associate will say they can give it to us for $x extra amount of money. We've often told them ok, we are willing to pay so and so amount extra for this car. They usually have to "check with their manager" but they usually meet us quite close to what we are willing to pay extra. Win win!
Sometimes You Just Get Lucky
So...really funny story about our Sixt rental car in Germany XD We had been picked up from the airport, and then the day after we arrived we were being dropped off at the rental car facility to get our car. So we get dropped off and run in (it's raining btw) and they can't find our reservation. After searching through our emails we realize we are at the wrong Sixt pick up location. Great. So we call our ride and have them drive us 30 minutes across town to the correct location. We run inside (still raining). This guy also can't find our reservation...turns out we had made it for pick up as the next day. Not only did we go to the wrong location, we came on the wrong day! #winning Luckily the customer service guy was super cool. We had originally selected a BMW 1series (the smallest BMW) as our rental car, but they were not getting one returned until the next day. BUT he did have a BMW 4series convertible available, and he gave it to us for the exact same price! Moral of the story? Not really sure, can't guarantee anyone that if you show up at the wrong location or on the wrong day that you will get an upgrade, but it happened to us!
Live for luxury? No trust fund, no problem!
Join the fancy free journey as we seek the
finer things in life, sans millions.
- Marie Claire, September 2016