Priceline has long been an innovator with online "Name Your Own Price" services, where a customer proposes a price and the vendor then decides whether to accept the bid or not; I did a tour of all MLB ballparks in the Midwest in 2000 using the service for hotels, finding suites for under $40 a night! And while the company still offers the service for hotels, the service has been discontinued for other initiatives such as "Name Your Own Price" gasoline and groceries (I really miss that one) and "Name Your Own Price" airfare (discontinued in September 2016). Now, "Name Your Own Price" rental cars are discontinued as of late March 2018 and replaced by Express Deals. Fortunately, this change in Priceline's sales tactics has no bearing on the quotes AutoSlash provides.
What Does this Mean for AutoSlash Users?
AutoSlash quotes come directly from the rental car companies and represent the best "Pay Later" rates available. That means each rental car company quote we send should map directly to a "Free Cancellation" rate available at Priceline if a renter acts immediately (rental companies can change rates at any time). All a renter has to do is click the link provided and then find a precise match of:
- Rental Car Company,
- Vehicle Size, and
This should take the renter to a "Free Cancellation" rate that doesn't require a credit card to book. If a renter books the "Free Cancellation" rate, there is no financial obligation if plans change or a lower rate arises after tracking. The reservation can simply be canceled so the rental car companies can make the vehicle available for other prospective renters; canceling an unusable reservation is the responsible thing to do and helps keep rates low for all of us!
How Does a Priceline Express Deal Compare to a "Free Cancellation" Rate?
Well, the answer to that question depends upon whether a renter is simply looking at price or wants a combinatiion of price and flexibility. It's important to note that Priceline can (and probably will) offer both types of rates for your desired reservation period. Each rate meets specific renter needs or desires, which is why Priceline offers both!
A "Free Cancellation" rate:
- Matches the quotes sent by AutoSlash,
- Is with a specific rental car company of the renter's choice,
- Does not require prepayment, and
- Can be canceled at any time without penalty.
An "Express Deals" rate:
- May (or may not) be cheaper than even the best "Free Cancellation" rate,
- Is from a group of rental car companies (the renter does not get to choose),
- Requires prepayment at the time of booking,
- Cannot be modified or canceled (for any reason), and
- May block benefits from a rental company's loyalty program (see Avis' terms on "ineligible rentals")
Although the Express Deals are locked in, there's always a notice of which companies one might receive. In our testing, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Hertz, National, and Sixt were always listed as the six options.
When Might an Express Deal Be a Good Idea?
Most people will be best off booking one of the AutoSlash "Free Cancellation" rates on Priceline, especially if you're planning your trip well in advance (that gives us a lot of time to watch for rates to drop!). Keep in mind that if you book an Express Deals rate, you can't change your reservation for any reason at all—and that includes everything from family emergencies to airline schedule changes or even flight cancellations. Also, be sure to scroll up and down on the Priceline search results page to make sure that there aren't any "Free Cancellation" rates that are cheaper than the non-changeable Express Deals prices—we see that happen all the time!
However, there are some cases where booking a prepaid Express Deal rate can work out well, such as when:
- Prepaid Express Deals rates are significantly cheaper than even the best "Free Cancellation" rate AutoSlash can find
- It's within no more than a day or two before your trip, so "Free Cancellation" prices aren't likely to drop below the Express Deal rate
- Your travel plans are 100% firm and your flights aren't in danger of canceling and leaving you without the ability to pick up your car
- You strongly prefer one of the more reputable brand-name agencies (Express Deals always come from the major brand names we mentioned above) over the discount agencies like E-Z, Advantage, Fox, or Payless and the Express Deals price makes a reputable brand name a competitive option
- You're OK with the chance of being stuck with a long line at the rental counter and being unable to change to a different company
If you do decide to book an Express Deals rate, we always recommend starting with a quote from AutoSlash immediately before booking to make 100% sure there aren't any better non-prepaid options. Even if you're booking a last-minute rental from your phone while walking from your arrival gate to the rental car lot, be sure to check AutoSlash first—our system generally gets quotes processed and sent to you within five minutes or less, and you can see and compare the Express Deals rates right from the same search screen we send you to.
Ready to book your next rental car? We'll always find the best possible "Free Cancellation" rates on your behalf; if you have the choice between a flexible "Free Cancellation" rate and an "Express Deals" rate, remember that we're always happy to search for lower rates on your behalf when you book the matching "Free Cancellation" rates and enter your reservation details for tracking while an "Express Deal" is written in stone, prepaid, and unchangeable!