UPDATE 2:: After Budget announced their offer the following day, Alamo revised their offer to note "rates as low as $9.99" but these were the same rates already available!
Every late summer, our blog addresses the annual rental car migrations from the northeast to Florida, when rental companies focus on getting vehicles from an area of low-usage (northeast during winter) to an area of high usage (Florida during summer). Last fall's Dollar/Hertz/Thrifty and AvisBudget promotions were the most recent examples. And each early spring, we address the migration of those same cars back from wintering in Florida to the northeast (see last year's Enterprise promotion). Rental car companies are exceptionally smart to make these transfers -- unrented cars are costly, depreciating while sitting idle! And given the choice of paying professional car haulers money to move cars between regions (many hundreds of dollars per car) or setting up low rates to coerce drivers to take the vehicles on these one-way voyages, most major rental car companies have decided on setting extremely low rates! Enterprise Holdings has decided -- with their Alamo affiliate -- to try a modest step up from extremely low rates.
In what's an early signal to the market (namely competitors AvisBudget Group and Hertz Global Holdings), this year's published Florida drive-out special starts at $14.99 per day for cars, $19.99 per day for SUVs, and $24.99 per day for minivans (all figures are pre-taxes and fees, of course). Enterprise's competitors have historically priced the cheapest cars at $4.99 per day on these transfer deals and last year's Enterprise/Alamo promotion had a $9.99 per day base rate. Rather than focusing on moving cars fast to maximize profit, the accountants have apparently decided that even transfer specials have to cover basic costs (like depreciation) in the daily rate. This influence of accountants is strong within parent company Enterprise, which recently revised the seasonal $9.99 weekend special that had been around for decades into a $12.99 weekend special.
And while the published prices of the drive-out special -- from Florida to elsewhere -- are larger than in years past, the deal still has substantial benefits for consumers who expect to leave Florida during the eligibility timeframe (March 26 / April 1 through May 31, 2018). For a one-way rental, these are still exceptional rates as there's no added drop-off/one-way fee. The rental is valid for 1 to 14 days, so leisurely drives up the Atlantic Coast are still possible. And the comparatively low rates means the tax and fee burden gets minimized (but is still present).
Terms and Conditions from Alamo and Enterprise
Price shown includes only the Base Rate charge (Time and Mileage) and excludes applicable taxes, fees, surcharges, refueling, drop-off, youthful driver, and pick-up charges, and charges for optional products or services such as Damage Waiver (at $30 or less per day), which are the responsibility of the Renter. Offer valid for reservations picked up between 3/26/2018-5/31/2018 from the following participating Florida locations: Fort Myers, Sarasota, Naples and Punta Gorda. Offer valid for reservations picked up between 4/1/2018-5/31/2018 at the following participating Florida locations: Tampa, Clearwater, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, West Palm, Key West and Boca Raton. Offer rate of $14.95 base rate per day applies to Economy, Compact, Intermediate, Standard and Full-Size vehicles, $19.95 base rate per day applies to Intermediate and Standard SUVs, and $24.95 base rate per day applies to Minivans. For certain locations, base rates of less than $14.95 per day may be available. To see if a lower rate is available, visit www.alamo.com or contact the location in question. It is the renter’s responsibility to check for a lower rate. Vehicle must be returned to a participating Enterprise location in the continental U.S., outside the state of Florida. Minimum one-day rental required and a 14-day maximum applies. Additional mandatory charges may be imposed, including, but not limited to a customer facility charge, airport concession fee, tourism commission assessment, vehicle license recovery fee, or other government-imposed taxes or fees. For more information, including an estimate of your total rental cost, visit our Internet website at www.alamo.com. Enterprise reserves the right to terminate the offer or change the terms at any time. This offer cannot be combined with any other discount and cannot be applied to previous or existing reservation or rental. Offer is subject to vehicle availability at the time of booking. Renter and additional driver(s) must meet standard age, driver and credit requirements. Please check your auto insurance policy and/or credit card agreement for rental vehicle coverage. Other restrictions, including holiday and blackout dates, may apply. Pick-up and drop-off service is subject to geographic and other restrictions. Non-transferable. Void where prohibited.
Alamo / Enterprise Do Allow Some Local Exceptions
The statement "For certain locations, base rates of less than $14.95 (sic) per day may be available" still holds true. Who lucks out in this promotion? My family in Punta Gorda, Florida (as in last year's post) already have a full-size car booked for $9.99 per day for the annual "Florida to D.C. excursion". The total cost (with taxes and fees) for 14 days? Just under $200, the same as last year! You can have the same deal if you act quickly enough!
How to Book
The process on booking these specials always remains the same -- the rental car companies don't provide a list of the eligible return locations outside of Florida but "airports in the Northeast United States" remain safe bets. The only way to know whether the promotional rates are available for your trip routing during the eligibility period is to request quotes. But if you find a need for a one-way rental from Florida to "not Florida" during these timeframes, act fast! Once the rental car company projects enough cars will be relocated, the promotional deals end and the era of high daily rates and one-way fees returns for the season.