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Generally speaking, when you have to book last-minute travel, the price goes up, up, up.  There are a few cases though where waiting until the last minute can actually give you some pretty healthy savings.  From an article on, there are 3 types of travel that you can get big discounts on, but only in the fall – repositioning cruises, Caribbean lodging and one-way car rentals.

Fellow BoardingArea blogger MJ On Travel is my go-to source for all cruise information, and the discounted Caribbean lodging is due to the fact that fall is also peak hurricane season, and so I’m not certain I’m super excited about that…. But one way car rentals are intriguing.

My experience

I’ve actually only done a one-way car rental one time in my life and I actually didn’t have to pay an arm and a leg.  A few years ago, some friends and I decided to set the record for the fastest time to jump in all 5 Great Lakes.  We ended up completing it in 8 hours, 51 minutes and 44 seconds.

It was a great time with good friends, and much Gordon Lightfoot trivia was shared (watch the video).  But my son and I needed to head back home from Sault Ste. Marie on Saturday, while the rest of the crew was continuing on (with the car we had rented).

In doing some research, I ended up getting a pretty good deal for a one-way care rental from Avis.  The weird thing that I remember is that Avis offers the option to Pay Now or Pay Later


Photo credit: Avis

Normally, the Pay Now provides a significant discount over Pay Later – I assume because somewhere around 30% of people that reserve rental cars never show up.  So it’s in the rental car company’s interest to “lock” you into showing up, even if it means they have to offer a discount.

But in this case, it was reversed.  The “Pay Later” was about $80 for a one-day rental, but “Pay Now” was about $250!  I really was confused by this, and even made a few calls to the local agent.  I was nervous that I would get there and Avis would be like “uhhhh what car?!?”.  In the end, it all worked out fine and I got home just fine.

Note that this was before I had discovered the wonderful world of travel hacking.  Now I probably would have just booked a short-haul flight on Avios or something 🙂

Hertz one-way car rentals for $20.99 / day

icon-hertzHertz is currently offering one-way rentals for $20.99 / day to drive to Arizona.  The deal is applicable for vehicles rented in Southern California; Nevada; Denver Airport; and Salt Lake City Airport and and dropping off at Corporate Airport and Neighborhood locations in Arizona.  Use rental rate code ICFLT1.  You’ll need to pick it up by October 14, 2014

The reason car rental companies (and cruise ships) often offer deals on one-way rentals in the fall is that they need to move all the cars from the cold, cold North into the warm, warm South, because demand is higher during the winter.

If I was a bit closer, that would definitely be tempting – what do you think?  Have you ever had success getting a deal on a one-way car rental?



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