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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
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
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
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 information
Autoslash sent me an email an hour or so later, saying:
Compare that to Kayak
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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I’ve read a ton of good stuff about Autoslash over the past six months, but I haven’t had any luck the few times I’ve tried to use it. Maybe I’m just too good at finding rental rates? None of the attempts resulted in any emails about lower rates for my reservations, although once they did email me with a lower rate for someone else’s reservation. So I’m sorry to whoever missed out on a deal because of that.
It works. Went to Maui in March. Had booked a car with budget before I knew autoslash. Autoslash found a better rate on a bigger car at Avis. When I went to pick up the car, the agent asked which island I lived on? Looks like I got the preferred ultra low rate neighbor island price. Cha-ching!
Autoslash is great, agreed. In my experience does not work as well for foreign bookings as the comparison becomes challenging when you mix in more variables (e.g., Station Wagon compact vs. Station Wagon, manual vs. automatic).
For last minute reservations, Hotwire is also great (their hot deals). They are not refundable, though, so it’s worth making a refundable booking, let Autoslash work its magic, and compare with Hotwire deal.
Been using them for years. If you sign up and haven’t heard back either you have the best rate or it went to spam. First few times I used them I found all their replays in my spam folder. Haven’t had ant problems lately, other than higher prices on my rentals.
Thanks for the write-up on Autoslash! My weekly full-sized rental went from $243.76 down to $197.38 including taxes and fees. Fitty bucks is fitty bucks. 🙂
Excellent! My commission is a very reasonable 15%!
What is your family’s rental car situation with 6 kids? Can you rent 8-passenger minivans or full-size vans? Is it more cost-effective to rent 2 regular cars?
Hi Becca – I’ve actually written a whole post about this 😀 – Why we’re a 2 (rental) car family