[oh-peyk] adjective, noun, verb
1. not transparent or translucent; impenetrable to light; not allowing light to pass through
2. hard to understand; not clear or lucid; obscure: The problem remains opaque despite explanations.
3. dull, stupid, or unintelligent
Synonyms: murky, cloudy, muddy
(courtesy of dictionary.com)
No, this is not a grammar lesson, but rather a discussion of a type of car rental booking site where you don't find out the vendor is until you pay (in advance) for the rental. This include sites that let you bid for your rental, as well as the more traditional model where you get an up-front price. In some cases you can find decent deals on 'opaque' sites, but they have some significant drawbacks.
The basic idea is that when the rental companies have un-rented cars in a particular location, they obviously want to get those cars on the road. After all, a car sitting on the rental lot is not generating any income. In order to attract more renters, the rental companies are willing to lower their prices. It's simple supply and demand. The rental companies allow these opaque sites to discount the rate a bit in order to pump up their volume.
One of the major reasons the rental companies like this business, is that it's guaranteed money in the bank for them. These opaque sites charge your credit card up-front for the full amount of the rental. You are then locked into your reservation in a very restrictive way. Here's an excerpt from one of the sites:
"rentals are final and cannot be cancelled, refunded, changed, exchanged or transferred. Your account will be charged for the total price shown, regardless of whether the reservation is used."
That doesn't sound very flexible or friendly, does it? That means that if you can't make your trip, or you end up arriving a day early, or a day late, you'll forfeit the entire amount you paid!
You also may end up paying more in the end by booking through one of these sites. Discounting rates through opaque sites is not the only way rental companies increase their volume. They also lower their published rates as well. Rental rates can change multiple times a day, sometimes significantly. By booking now and paying up front, you may be locking yourself into a rate that may be lower at some point in the future.
Many times, AutoSlash can get you a discounted rate by applying a coupon or discount code that will be far better than you can find anywhere else—including the opaque sites. Additionally, AutoSlash never locks you in. There's absolutely no penalty for changing or cancelling your reservation. That means if a better rates becomes available, you're free to take advantage of it.
AutoSlash recommends booking your rental as early as possible to maximize your potential for savings. AutoSlash re-prices your rental multiple times a day, and if we find a lower rate, we'll automatically re-book your rental at the lower rate. Many times, rates drop as the pickup date approaches if the rental companies have unrented cars on the lot.
Bottom Line: Opaque sites are definitely worth a look when comparing rates, but keep in mind the drawbacks of no changes or cancellations. In many cases, you'll be able to do significantly better with AutoSlash via application of discounts as well as automatic price drops.