Get the details on using Expedia's CarRentals.com for cheap car rentals and find out how much you can save versus booking direct.
CarRentals.com is an online car rental booking portal owned by the Expedia group. It can be used to book car rentals at 29,000+ locations in 197 countries ranging from global to local brands. CarRentals.com does not feature a rewards program, but you can sign up for an account which will make it faster to checkout when booking rentals and easier to pull up current/past rentals made through their portal.
Booking Rentals With CarRentals.com
CarRentals.com states that you can book a rental in 3 easy steps and this is true. You search for the car, select the car you want, and confirm your booking. As previously stated, creating an account makes this process even faster. Below are the details on how easy it is to book a car through CarRentals.com.
Enter Car Rental Details
When you land on the CarRentals.com homepage, you'll be able to enter your rental details immediately. This includes the pick-up location, drop-off location (if different from pick up), pick-up date, and drop off date. You can then hit 'Search Now'.
Choose Your Car
Once the search is complete, CarRentals.com will give you a list of cars sorted by cheapest price from many different rental agencies. You can slim down the results of the search by using the filter options on the left side of the page which consists of:
- Rental Company
- Car Type
- % Recommended
- Station Feedback
- Pick-Up Time
- Payment Options
- Pick-Up Location
- Passenger Capacity
Once you find a vehicle that fits your needs, you can hit 'Continue'.
On the third and final step, you will be able to review your rental and confirm the booking. If you're signed into your CarRentals.com account, all of the information will be pre-filled. On this page you will be able to add Rental Car Damage Protection in which I recommend using a credit card that provides primary rental car insurance to avoid this high cost. Once you hit 'Reserve Now', your booking will be complete.
Most of the car rentals through CarRentals.com are 'Book Now, Pay Later', which means you will not be required to pay anything upon making the booking. You'll pay for your rental directly at the car rental agency upon pick-up of your vehicle.
Will You Save Money With CarRentals.com?
CarRentals.com operates as a car rental booking portal that grabs prices from several locations and lists them out in one spot. This works great for anyone that isn't loyal to any one specific car rental agency that wants several options to choose from.
I ran a search through the CarRentals.com website and wrote down the price of each agencies cheapest vehicle listed. I then checked with each car rental site directly to see if there was any price difference. This is the results I received for a 2-day weekend booking at Atlanta International Airport:
|2-Day Atlanta Booking|
|Rental Agency||CarRentals.com||Booking Direct|
With the exception of saving a single penny booking through CarRentals.com for both Thrifty and Dollar, you'll see that the prices are basically the same. So unless there's some special promotion going on, the only true benefit of using CarRentals.com is to see the prices of multiple car rental agencies in one spot.
When you book through CarRentals.com, there's a few things that you should be aware of.
Missing Out On Rewards
If your part of any of the car rental rewards programs, CarRentals.com does not provide the option for you to enter your membership number. This means you'll miss out on earning reward points and credit towards earning elite status with that car rental agency's program. This may not seem like a big deal, but most of these programs offer very valuable points which can be used towards free rental days, car upgrades, and more.
Don't rent cars enough or not loyal to any one agency? Most car rental rewards programs allows you to change your earning preference to receive airline miles or hotel points instead. This can help push you close to your next free flight or hotel stay just by renting cars.
Missing Out On Promotional Codes
Another issue with booking through CarRentals.com is that you will not be able to enter any type of discount or promotional code. Most of the large car rental agencies offers a spot where you can input a code to save a certain percentage off the base price.
Discount codes can be found in various places. For example, many frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs offer discount codes on their website for having a membership and/or elite status. Discount codes can also be offered for AAA/CAA members, Veteran/Military discounts, and more. If you have access to any of these codes, you will not be able to use them without booking directly through the rental car agency's website.
The CarRentals.com website can be a useful tool for anyone looking for the cheapest car rental price available at a specific location, but there's better options for those really looking to save money and/or earn rewards. Additionally, I see no reason to book through a third party that provides no type of extra incentive or rewards. The main headache that most run into when booking third party is that if a problem should arise, you will not be able to handle it directly with the car rental agency. They will usually tell you to go handle it with the third party which can sometimes be a pain. When booking third party it's usually risk versus rewards, so to take the risk without any reward is not the best option.