Will you be traveling this Thanksgiving? You won't be alone. Last year, the AAA estimated that 48.5 million Americans drove to see friends and family for Thanksgiving. The 2018 holiday weekend saw the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005, and it's expected to be just as crowded on our highways this year.
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. When it comes to holiday weekends and rental cars, the early bird gets the worm. This is a high-demand weekend and rental car companies can sell out of cars for the holiday. Be sure to lock in your reservation weeks in advance.
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 cancellable 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 using reward points. Unfortunately, many rental companies impose blackouts for redemption during peak holiday periods.
Start tracking your reservation immediately. As soon as you make your reservation, it's always worth tracking your rental car reservation since we may find a better rate ahead of your travel dates.
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. Again, this is not a time to procrastinate.
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.