Will you be traveling this Thanksgiving? You won't be alone. This year the AAA estimates that 48.5 million Americans be driving to see friends and family for Thanksgiving, a 5 percent increase over last year. The 2018 holiday weekend is expected to see the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005, so it's going to be crowded out there on our highways.
Need a rental car for the holiday weekend? You can expect that prices will be jacked up for Thanksgiving, since it's a high-demand period. But there's a lot you can do to find a reasonable price. Here are our tips:
Snag the Best Car Rental Rate for Thanksgiving
Book early. This is a high-demand weekend and rental car companies can sell out of cars for the holiday.
Book even earlier if you need a large car. Rental agencies may sell out earlier on larger vehicles such as minivans and full-size SUVs. We recommend booking a minimum of two weeks out and preferably even further in advance.
Cast a wider net. Looking for a rental car at an airport location? Consider expanding your search to easily-reachable off-airport rental car locations. Even when you factor in the cost of getting to an off-airport location, the savings can be significant. A rental at San Francisco International Airport might cost $100 a day, but if you walk across the street to the nearby Enterprise agency, a rental car might cost $30 a day.
Look at prepaid rates. During high-demand times, our prepaid Slash Deals often yield better results compared to pay-later rates, which will be higher than usual. For example, when we searched for a five-day rental of a full-size car out of New York's LaGuardia Airport over Thanksgiving weekend, the lowest non-discounted pay-later rate we could find was $760.87. Meanwhile, the lowest prepaid rate was $280.50—a whopping $480 less.
In this case, even if you're not sure you need a car for Thanksgiving weekend, you'd be crazy not to book the prepaid rate early since it's cancelable up to 48 hours prior to pick-up. (Just don't forget to cancel if you find a better deal or decide not to rent a car after all.)
Don't count on reward points. Unfortunately, many rental companies impose blackouts for redemption during peak holiday periods.
Start tracking your reservation weeks in advance. It's always worth tracking your rental car reservation since we may find a better rate several weeks ahead of the holiday. But be aware that with high-demand holiday weekends, prices typically go up as the holiday approaches. It's simple supply and demand.
Don't expect many last-minute deals. As the holiday approaches, many rental agencies will sell out. Those with a few vehicles left will charge a king's ransom.
Need a rental car for Thanksgiving weekend? Don't delay. Ask us for a quote and we'll scour the Internet to find the best discounts and coupons available.