May Sale

Rental car companies frequently offer promotions to help meet their needs -- the one-way drive-out / drive-in promotions with Arizona and Florida we discuss are routinely predictable examples. However, many of the major rental car companies have decided to introduce offers only for the month of May 2018. These offers include drive-in specials (Avis/Budget), weekend deals at neighborhood locations (Hertz), and even shuttling cars between the San Francisco airport and qualifying neighborhood locations each weekend (National). And in each of the cases, the participation of Avis, Hertz, and National means that a renter would be eligible to earn points/credits toward rental company awards days -- when picking up an Avis or National vehicle at the airport, members of the loyalty programs would also have the ability to choose among available vehicles. So what are the deals?

Avis/Budget Drive-In Offer

Frequent readers of our blog know about Avis/Budget's current offers to get cars out of Arizona and Florida -- this has been supplemented to expressly get vehicles from Southern California (one of the eligible destinations for the Arizona drive-out) north to Portland, Oregon or Seattle, Washington. The offer starts with rates as low as $19.95 per day (plus local taxes and fees) for the one-way trip and there are no drop/one-way fees. The Avis promotion requires AWD code Q160500 and the Budget offer requires BCD code R852500. The rentals otherwise have the same eligibility standards and pricing, only allowing the choice of a limited selection of vehicles (no vans and no SUVs other than mid-size). There are also potential blackout dates between now and the end of May but as with any other one-way special, those who are looking to make the drive anyway might be surprised at the great rates available when requesting quotes

Terms and Conditions

  • Offer valid for checkout between 4/24/18 and 5/31/18 for one-way rentals only; vehicle must be picked up at a participating Southern California location and returned to a different participating U.S. location in Portland or Seattle
  • Rates require a minimum 1 to maximum 14 consecutive day rental period.
  • Offer valid on the following car groups: Economy (group A) through Full Size (group E), Intermediate SUV (group F), and Premium (group G)
  • Offers may not be available during holiday and other blackout periods; rate surcharges during peak periods may apply.
  • Offer subject to vehicle availability at the time of reservation and may not be available on some rates at some times.
  • Renter must meet Avis age, driver and credit requirements.  Minimum age may vary by location.  An additional daily surcharge may apply for renters under 25 years old.
  • Rates are non-discountable; they may not be combined with any other AWD number, coupon, promotion or offer. 
  • Taxes, concession recovery fees, vehicle license recovery fee, customer facility charges may apply and are extra. Optional products such as LDW ($29.99/day or less) and refueling are extra.
  • Rates are based on U.S. currency.

Hertz Neighborhood Offer

The Hertz neighborhood offer -- although featured on Hertz's homepage -- is a baffling one. It is a neighborhood-based offer and ostensibly competes with Enterprise's $12.99 per day neighborhood offer, mirroring the limitation of 100 miles/day and a 20 cent per mile overage fee. A renter has to pick up the vehicle on Friday or Saturday and return to the same neighborhood location on the following Monday to comply with this offer but there's a considerable snag.

We have yet to see the rate actually price in Hertz's reservation system. Even when Hertz says the necessary CDP (109900) is applied, no locations show the qualifying rate. However, we do hope that this promotion starts pricing properly soon; most of the AutoSlash team members live very near Hertz neighborhood locations and our friendly local managers tend to give us nice upgrades based upon our Gold Plus status. It's always beneficial to be kind to rental car station staff; at neighborhood locations, one doesn't ordinarily get a choice of vehicle!

UPDATE: Hertz has now rolled this offer on a more widespread basis. We got the details on how to book this $12.99/day neighborhood weekend deal here.

It's a nice rate … if you can find it.

National San Francisco Airport-Neighborhood-Airport Offer 

With this offer, National is emulating an Avis offer where rental car companies focus on moving cars from airports to off-airport locations at the end of the workweek and from off-airport locations to the airport at the beginning of the workweek. These offers are timed to business travelers and serve multiple functions for the rental car company -- they get cars away from the airport in periods of low demand (running out of parking gets really costly) but also get the cars to sites where leisure travelers might want to rent. The National offer allows customers to rent a car for up to 12 hours for as little as $9.99 per day plus taxes, and a renter can take advantage of the offer between:

  • SFO Airport to either Fisherman's Wharf or Union Station on Thursday/Friday
  • Fisherman's Wharf or Union Station to SFO Airport on Sunday/Monday/Tuesday

Only a one-way trip is required. These seem like great offers for someone who doesn't want to pay for a cab, needs to run errands on the commute, or doesn't want to wrangle luggage on BART. However, one has to consider the nature of the San Francisco rental car market:

  • Consideration 1: Stopping for errands may cause the inconvenience of being a victim of theft.
  • Consideration 2: Up to 12 hours is a bit of a misnomer, as a rental from the airport has to be returned before the neighborhood site closes for the day.
  • Consideration 3: Taxes on rental cars at the San Francisco International Airport means the cheapest available rental -- "$9.99 per day before tax" -- is at least $31.55 after taxes and fees for a rental from the airport to downtown. We wish we were kidding. 

Exhibit A: Why one doesn't rent a "$9.99 special" from the San Francisco Airport.

The one-way from downtown San Francisco to the airport at the beginning of a workweek? Contracts written at the downtown locations wouldn't have the imposition of excessive airport taxes and fees (taxes and fees are based upon where a vehicle is picked up, except in Denver) and the $9.99 one-way rental would be just $11.58 after taxes.

The cost from downtown to the airport is much more reasonable.

Terms and Conditions

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 any 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 one-way rentals reserved now through 5/31/2018. Thursday-Friday: Pick up a one-way rental from San Francisco airport and drop off at a participating San Francisco downtown location within 12 hours. Sunday-Tuesday: Pick up a one-way rental from a San Francisco downtown location and drop off at the San Francisco airport within 12 hours. Participating San Francisco downtown locations include: Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf. Reservation must be made at least 1 hour in advance of scheduled pick-up time. Maximum rental of 12 hours applies. Offer rate as low as $9.99 base rate per day applies to Economy-Compact vehicle, rate as low as $12.99 base rate per day applies to Intermediate vehicle, rate as low as $15.99 base rate per day applies to Standard vehicle, offer rate as low as $18.99 base rate per day applies to Fullsize vehicle, offer rate as low as $19.99 base rate per day applies to Intermediate SUV and offer rate as low as $24.99 base rate per day applies to Standard SUV and Minivan. For certain locations and times, base rates of less than $9.99 per day may be available. To see if a lower rate is available, visit or contact the location in question. It is the renter’s responsibility to check for a lower rate. 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 National 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.

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