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Renting a car can be one of the most expensive parts of a vacation, if you’re a miles and points travel hacker such as myself.  Generally, I can use miles and points to cover most of the costs of things like airfare and lodging, but there aren’t really any good programs to get free rentals (unless you actually rent cars frequently).  I’ve talked before about how to get top status at most of the major rental companies for free, and while things like Avis First can be useful to bypass long lines at airport rental car counters, it doesn’t really do a ton about getting rental cars for free.

Interestingly, while I was in the middle of writing this post, I got a reader comment on my post introducing my upcoming vacation, asking:

I am planning a similar trip with my family and have found ways to use points for our train, hotels and one way airline tickets but don’t know how to use points for our car rental. I don’t think I have ever seen a rewards card for rental cars. How do you do it?

 

There isn’t really a way to rack up tons of car rental points, so generally I will use points like Barclay Arrival points for travel expenses like this, but even still, it pays to get the cheapest price that you can.

(SEE ALSO: Using Barclay Arrival miles on small transactions under $25)

(SEE ALSO: Barclay Arrival, Citi Thank you, and CapitalOne Venture – points that count as cash)

Enter Autoslash – www.autoslash.com

If you're renting a car with Avis, Budget, National, Hertz or any of the car rental places, this trick can save you 50% or moreautoslash

Using Autoslash to save a ton on your next rental car

The way that Autoslash works is that you book a rental car through whatever means you want, and then feed the information into AutoSlash

autoslash-enter-reservation

 

Here’s an example of our upcoming trip.  That’s not exactly our pickup date (or confirmation number), but $172.86 was the cheapest price I was able to book for an Intermediate car at Avis.  That was it!  Autoslash automatically will now start tracking that reservation.  They will try all the major rental companies every day, and use a variety of coupons, deals and other tricks to get the lowest rate possible.

A few days later, I got an email from Autoslash

autoslash-email

Uhhhh yeah!  In this case, I had to go through their website to update the reservation, but oftentimes you can update the reservation just by replying “YES” to the Autoslash email.

Remember that (in almost all cases), rental car reservations are totally refundable, and there’s no real downside to making multiple reservations and then deciding which one you want to use (generally the cheapest or otherwise most convenient).  Of course, that sometimes works the other way too, as if you book a rental car, there’s no real guarantee that the rental car company will actually HAVE the car that you reserved…

(SEE ALSO: Avis changing the car rental price when I add my Wizard number)

(SEE ALSO: Search Update! I finally get Avis to stop its dirty trick on me!)

Using Autoslash directly

You CAN also use Autoslash to book the rental information directly.  I have an upcoming need for a rental car for my trip to Family Travel for Real Life 3, where I am presenting on maximizing low-level category hotels.  I entered in my informationautoslash-search

Autoslash sent me an email an hour or so later, saying:

autoslash-search-response

Compare that to Kayak

autoslash-kayak-results

Kayak finds a $41 rate for Dollar, but the cheapest rate for Budget is $53 for the day.  The cheapest Avis rate on Kayak is $195(!)

Autoslash will continue to monitor this reservation for me as well, so as rates fluctuate over the next few months, I’ll be able to continually rebook at the lower rate.

Have you used Autoslash before?  Any other tips to share?  Let us know in the comments.

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