By: Revanche

The car rental experience that didn’t suck

February 27, 2009

My worlds of Twitter and blog haven’t converged, though it may seem to have done so in my mind, so I’m posting thanks to a reminder from SFOrdinaryGirl about my recent car rental.

El papa forgot to mention that he needed a car all day on Saturday until Friday night. Yar! I was expecting some car rental fees over the weekends since they can just use my car during the week, but we don’t share as well if I want to do anything but sit at home 7 days a week. With the pressure to job hunt, I’ve been doing that anyway, but I needed my car last weekend. So with about 12 hours notice, I had to get my bargain hunter on and try to find a cheap rental for the following morning.

My usual go-tos, Enterprise, Dollar, and Budget were all out because I required a one-day rental, and all their local offices were closed on Sundays. [Can I just say? That made me downright grumpy. How can you be a business that involves time-based charges and not be open 7 days a week? How can you be closed to rentals or returns on Sunday? GAH. It’s a little bit like being charged in a hotel or a hospital where you have to check out … except there’s one day of the week you can’t! Ok, enough ranting.]

Weekend rentals at Enterprise are usually 50% off, so the car would have cost about $70-ish Friday through Sunday.

Except 1) you can’t return cars on Sunday and 2) it was Friday night and far too late to get a weekend rental.

On the phone with BFF, she suggested that I use her AAA discount to help defray the costs, and while poking around the internets together, she suggested Hertz. Normally, I avoid Hertz like the credit-card charging plague they are, but looked at their site anyway. I mean, I was striking out everywhere else!

And lo: the skies opened and brought me the Hertz One Weekend Day FREE rental deal. No kidding, they quoted me $13.99 in taxes and airport location rental fees for an economy car.

I searched for a catch, an obligation, a must-do and came up empty. They were serious about this “Buy None Get 1 Free” deal.

With no little amount of doubt and perturbation, the reservation was made. The next morning, other than a 45 minute wait in line thanks to a customer in front of me having difficulties with her reservation, the rental was simple. “You have a free day, sign on the line, you have an additional driver, sign on the line, go get your car!”

Huh. Well, no complications except they gave us a frickin’ Toyota Prius and I had no clue how to turn it on. Power button? What? This is a for-real car, right?

Driving difficulties aside, the rental ended up being less than they quoted me, and they didn’t even charge for my dad as an additional driver. (Normally a $10 fee. The agent didn’t even mention the fee or the discount.) And it took me 36 hours before I asked myself, why did I even do that? Why didn’t I just let him rent it in his name? It’s not like I wouldn’t have paid anyway. The whole ten bucks.

The promotion runs through the end of March, and is good once a month so if you had actual need for a rental this month and next, you could get your free day twice. You have this last weekend to get it in, though.

Caveat: I did not take any extras like the insurance, GPS or any other add-ons. The additional driver would normally cost you, I assume that waiting patiently for nearly an hour was my free pass. And I didn’t even pay for gas because the 70 miles driven didn’t put a dent in the gas tank.

Caveat Emptor: I’m not getting paid to promote Hertz in any way – I’m just happy about the deal and wanted to share.

7 Responses to “The car rental experience that didn’t suck”

  1. That is an awesome deal. I was shocked at how expensive it was to rent a car! Luckily my company pays for a special membership for their employees, but even then…

  2. That is freaking craziness.

    I am so jealous 🙂

    It’s going to cost me around $200 to rent for 3 full days…

    And that’s with insurance because apparently I am not covered *rolls eyes* .. guess that’s what I get for having basic insurance at $300/year 😛

  3. Sense says:

    WOW! that is such a great price!!!

    I’m paying $60+ A DAY over here in NZ. No deals whatsoever, can’t return the car early, have to pay a $100 deposit by credit card beforehand.

    FB, usually if you use a credit card to pay for the rental car, the cc covers insurance–it’s in the fine print. I never get insurance…

  4. I drive a 12 year old car and have not rented before. At $60-$70 per day, it just doesn’t make financial sense.

    But I think you got a really good deal here.

  5. sabrina says:

    For future reference: you can usually rent or return vehicles from airport locations on weekends and holidays, as they’re open 24/7. Sometimes the price is a bit higher than it would be at your local dealer, but it’s worth it if you can save a day or two on the rental (and if the airport is conveniently nearby). Also, I’ve found that the online prices are usually better than what’s offered on the phone.

    I love the great deal you got this time!

  6. Karen says:

    Revanche: You got even luckier because rental companies were charging fuel fees for those people who drive less than a certain amount of miles. I think Hertz and Avis were ones who were charging that and at least one stopped doing that. I still hate their “toll plates” policy.

  7. Revanche says:

    paranoidasteroid: Not just the car itself, but the fees, the insurance and other add-ons are astronomical. All for the privilege of hanging out in traffic with everyone else.

    FB: No chance you could use this one? (Oh, I just checked, it’s just the U.S.) Ugh, no coverage through your credit card?
    Don’t worry, MY crappy insurance at $2000/year doesn’t cover rentals, either.

    Sense: Holy moly, $60/day? That would hurt, right in the gut area.

    Do note, though, insurance through CCs are limited. I called AmEx and they only cover collision, no liability. Or something like that. It’s late, I don’t remember right this second.

    Associate Money: We’re in between that stage of having a 12-year old car and … not. Car accident and whatnot having eliminated our normal vehicle, see previous posts.

    sabrina: I certainly lucked out here as I should have expected the airport fee and an additional driver fee on top of the rental fees. I’ll save myself the trouble and check rates at the airport locations for weekends from now on, though.

    Karen: A fuel fees for driving less?? Are you serious? We had the option to fuel up outside the car company, at least, so we took that. I don’t trust them to tell me how much was really need to top off the tank. A cautious character, I am.

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