Most people think that rental car pricing follows some predictable model whereby the longer you rent, the more you pay. For example, logic dictates that if you rent a car for 28 days, it should be a bit more expensive than renting a car for 26 days right? Hmm, we'll maybe; sometimes; with some companies.

Welcome to the wacky world of rental car pricing. Whether due to some grand conspiracy dating back to the days of JFK and Oswald, or just some weird computer glitch that the rental companies themselves don't fully understand, there is some really strange stuff going on here. In this first article in a series, we're going to explore one such example which may surprise you.

At AutoSlash, we're not above getting our hands dirty to get the best deals for our customers. While researching a rental on the longer side with Enterprise in Bangor, ME for a customer, we can across an interesting phenomenon. We'll call it the 26-day threshold. It seems that when renting with Enterprise, there's a point at which you will pay more (sometimes much more) for a rental under 26 days than you will for one longer than 26 days. Take a look at the breakdown below to illustrate the point:

Pick-up
Date
Drop-Off
Date
Price Duration
7/6 7/21 $944 15 days
7/6 7/22 $1,030 16 days
7/6 7/23 $1,115 17 days
7/6 7/24 $1,201 18 days
7/6 7/26 $1,286 20 days
7/6 7/27 $1,288 21 days
7/6 7/28 $1,373 22 days
7/6 7/29 $1,459 23 days
7/6 7/30 $1,545 24 days
7/6 7/31 $1,630 25 days
7/6 8/2 $1,715 26 days
7/6 8/3 $848 27 days
7/6 8/4 $850 28 days
7/6 9/4 $1,704 60 days

*Notes: Pricing based on an economy car. Enterprise in BGR is closed on Sundays.

If it's not immediately apparent from the chart, there is some really funky stuff going on there. As you can see, as you increase the number of rental days, the price of the rental increases. That's what we'd expect to happen. This "normal" behavior continues for the next couple of weeks or so. But something really weird happens when we get to the 27th day... Unbelievably, the price drops from $1,715 for a 26-day rental to $848 for a 27-day rental. Hey--wait a second! What gives here?!? You mean to tell me that if I keep the car just one day longer, I will save $867? How is that even possible?!?

Well my friends, it is quite possible and it happens to folks every day. A unsuspecting person who needs a rental for 26-days today is going to make a reservation in Bangor, or Ft. Lauderdale or somewhere else (yes, this phenomenon happens in many locations--but not all), and they're going to overpay by a ridiculous amount. If only they knew that if they extended their rental by just one day, they might save enough to go on their next vacation!

Taking the analysis one step further, it turns out that you can rent that compact car in Bangor for up to 60 days before approaching the price of the 26 day rental. Let me repeat that for those of you not paying attention... It is basically the same price to rent a compact in Bangor for 60 days as it is to rent the same car 26 days! Don't believe us, go and try plugging in the numbers yourself at Enterprise.com.

These are the sorts of things that we at AutoSlash spend our time obsessing over. Our customers will never pay hundreds more than they need to on their rental, because we sweat the details. We know the in's and out's of how the car rental company systems work, and we work them to your advantage, so you don't wind up paying more than you need to.

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