Car Rental Discounts

Porsche Racing CarOk, so usually I focus on free, but with car rentals, I generally just go for the big discounts.

I’ll start where I don’t find the best deals. While, I almost always look at at least one of Expedia, Travelocity, and Hotwire to find out the retail price matrix, I have never booked with one of them. Why? Since using corporate and coupon codes on the car rental firm’s website is so much cheaper.

To start with, you need to understand the structure of the car rental business. There are basically three players. Each has a “business” brand, discount brand(s) and a car sharing “operation” (only one is really out of the gate).

Company Business Brand Discount Brand(s) Sharing
Hertz Global Holdings Hertz Dollar & Thrifty Hertz on Demand
Avis Budget Group Avis Budget Zipcar
Enterprise Holdings National Alamo & Enterprise Enterprise CarShare

I have personally found the best rates with Budget and use Zipcar myself, but YMMV. Enterprise Holdings is the biggest and the Enterprise brand is a winner for non-airport use. And Hertz certainly has the highest brand equity.

Once you know the pricing matrix from one of the retail websites, your mission will be to beat it. Once I find something about 20-30% cheaper than the best deal (from one of the big 3) on the matrix, I usually consider myself satisfied and stop looking. At minimum, I can’t think of a time that I haven’t gone at least 10% below the matrix. There are certainly occasions of high demand where a corporate rate has brought me below 50% of the cost of the matrix.

The very first call to make should be to your own HR department. If you work for a big company, they will usually have at least one corporate relationship with one of the major car rental companies. Most of these relationships allow employees to use their rates for personal use. The only downside is that most large companies contract with the more expensive brands (i.e., Hertz/Avis/National), so if you are looking for the cheapest rate, you will probably want to focus on the Budget/Thrifty/Alamo deals below. If you prefer premium service (i.e., skip the desk with a premium frequent driver program), stick with Hertz/Avis/National.

One more caveat before we start. Use corporate codes with care. IF you don’t have the right to use it, there could be repercussions. You will probably get away with it most of the time, but it may not be worth it that one time where you end up stuck without a car. I try to be very specific about what is required for the use of a corporate code below. There are many associations that are free or cheap to join that will qualify you.

Let’s Jump In.


Hertz

Hertz Corporate Codes (CDP)

240 – (verified 11/18/13) for members of AAA Southern New England. If you are a member of a different club, simply put the club # from your AAA card in the CDP Field. You can also look it up here. In a quick test, AAA savings was about 22% on a Midsize SUV rented for a week in Boston.

Hertz Coupon Codes (PC)

180600 – (verified 11/18/13) Free Upgrade when used with a AAA CDP code (note only applies to certain cars)

Hertz Additional Driver Policy

  • Additional drivers not meeting an exception below will usually be charged a fee
  • If you are a member of the Hertz #1 Gold Club, the fee is waived for spouses and domestic partners
  • If you use a AAA code and all drivers are AAA members, hold their own major credit card and otherwise qualify as drivers, there is no additional driver fee.
  • If traveling on business using your company’s corporate code, fellow employees of the firm are not charged as additional drivers
  • Spouses are only automatically free in California and Iowa. This is one reason that I rarely rent from Hertz


Avis

Avis Corporate Codes (AWD)

Become a free member of USA Cupom which will entitle you to use their AWD #B291091. While the AWD number will probably still work without you becoming a member, it’s probably better to be official in case of an insurance issue or the like. Note that it is free and they won’t fill up your email box (yet) since they aren’t marketing to English speakers.

Avis Coupon Codes

TUEA005 (paperless) – 3rd day free if you book over a weekend with a Visa Credit Card x2/28/2014 (verified 11/15/13)
MUWA028 (paperless) – $35 off a weekly rental (verified 11/15/13)
UUWA055 (paperless) – one class upgrade (verified 11/15/13)
Note that Avis classifies certain coupon codes as paperless. Those are the best ones since you don’t need to worry about actually having a coupon. Otherwise, there is a good chance that they may not ask, but they always could.

Avis Additional Driver Policy (USA)

All additional drivers must be over 25 and show up at the counter with a valid license and decent driving history.

  • Spouses and domestic partners are usually free.
  • Fellow employees/employer are usually free if traveling on the company’s corporate code.
  • Additional Drivers are always free in CA
  • Others are usually $13 per day (max $65 per trip) except $10 per day (max $50 per trip) in NV and $3 per day in NY

Source: Avis.com FAQ (see USA -> Reservations -> Rental Policies, Terms and Conditions)


National

National Corporate Codes

5030353 – Entertainment Book (2014), use with Entertainment coupons below
5027379 – for BJ’s Wholesale Club members, use with BJ’s coupons below.

National Coupon Codes

NDA2354BU (Entertainment x6/30/14) / ND3Z33ZDE (BJ’s x?) – $30 off any size, 5 day min
NF5165ZDB (Entertainment x6/30/14) / NF2911JDR (BJ’s x?) – buy 5+ day (incld sat) get 1 free compt-full
NF8159AAP (Entertainment x6/30/14) / NF44Z5JDL (BJ’s x?) – buy 3-5 day (incld sat) get 1 free compt-full
NU39Z7ZDF (Entertainment x6/30/14) – free single upgrade compact-std
NU3129ZTY (BJ’s x?) – free double upgrade compact-mid
NDA2BB3AU (Entertainment x6/30/14) – $25 off convt, van, SUV, 3 day min

National Additional Driver Policy

  • Additional drivers not meeting an exception below will usually be charged a fee
  • If you are a member of the National Emerald Club (free), the fee is waived for spouses and domestic partners or immediate family member living at the same address


Thrifty


Note that Thrifty and Dollar are largely run as one firm. Many of the discount codes seem to apply across both brands.

In addition to codes, note that Thrifty has the Wildcard program. If you choose the wildcard class, you pay the compact rate, but could basically get anysize car. If you have a slight preference for a large car, but don’t want to pay for it, this is a decent option. Note, you could could get stuck with a van. Though once I was lucky enough to end up with a convertible.

Also note their Best Rate Guarantee. If the rate goes down after you rent, you pay 90% of the new rate. I usually consider these bad signals since it creates a reason for

Thrifty: link for discounted reservations

Thrifty Corporate Codes (Corporate#)

0010230768 for AAA of Southern New England members – usually unlimited mileage

Thrifty Coupon Codes(Promo#)

5C11M – 15% off certain sizes x1/31/14 (verified 11/17/13) – offer details
5CO6M – Midsize SUV for $34 x1/31/14 (verified 11/17/13) – offer details
5CO7M – Premium Car for $33 x1/31/14 (verified 11/17/13) – offer details
5CO8M – Standard SUV for $46 x1/31/14 (verified 11/17/13) – offer details
4M19M- Convertible for $46 x1/31/14 (verified 11/17/13) – offer details

Thrifty Blue Chip

Thrifty’s frequent renter program is call “Blue Chip”. There is some degree of express service, seems they get your contract ready for you to sign. They also give you credits where you get 1 free day for every 16 rented. Or you can take about 50 miles per day on most airlines. Note that they charge a small extra fee if you pick miles. They are also worth less than the Blue Chip credits assuming you rent enough to use the Blue Chip credits.
Thrifty Blue Chip Signup here

Thrifty Additional Driver Policy

Additional drivers including spouses are usually charged. This is an additional reason I rarely rent from Thrifty.


Dollar


Note that Thrifty and Dollar are largely run as one firm. Many of the discount codes seem to apply across both brands.

Dollar: link for discounted reservations

Dollar Corporate Codes

Dollar is pretty stingy with corporate codes. We are investing and will update if any good ones pop up.

Dollar Coupon Codes

5C11M – 15% off compact to premium x1/31/14 (verified 11/17/13) – offer details
5CO6M – Midsize SUV for $34 x1/31/14 (verified 11/17/13) – offer details
5CO7M – Premium Car for $33 x1/31/14 (verified 11/17/13) – offer details
5CO8M – Standard SUV for $46 x1/31/14 (verified 11/17/13) – offer details
4M19M- Convertible for $46 x1/31/14 (verified 11/17/13) – offer details

Dollar Additional Driver Policy

Additional drivers including spouses are usually charged. This is an additional reason I rarely rent from Dollar.


Budget

Budget Corporate Codes

Become a free member of USA Cupom which will entitle you to use their BCD #R198191. While the BCD number will probably still work without you becoming a member, it’s probably better to be official in case of an insurance issue or the like. Note that it is free and they won’t fill up your email box (yet) since they aren’t marketing to English speakers.

Budget Coupon Codes

UUGZ039 or UUCZ022 – 1 car upgrade
MUCZ088 $25 off weekly rental over sat
MUCZ080 $10 off weekend rental

Budget Additional Driver Policy (USA)

All additional drivers must be over 25 and show up at the counter with a valid license and decent driving history.

  • Spouses and domestic partners are usually free.
  • Fellow employees/employer are usually free if traveling on the company’s corporate code.
  • Additional Drivers are always free in CA
  • Others are usually $13 per day (max $65 per trip) except $10 per day (max $50 per trip) in NV and $3 per day in NY

Source: Budget.com: Common Questions


Alamo


Note that many Alamo contract ID’s and coupon codes, while valid, don’t actually save you anything off of their rates without a code. They often seem to bump up their retail rates so they can show a discount.

Alamo Contract ID’s

7014627 Costco (verified 11/18/2013)
7013880 Southwest Airlines Customers (verified 11/18/2013)

Alamo Coupon Codes

[Use Costco contract ID]- save up to 25% x6/30/14
AD2338FDF – $30 off coupon

Alamo Additional Driver Policy

  • Additional drivers not meeting an exception below will usually be charged a fee
  • If you are a member of the Alamo Insiders Program (free), the fee is waived for an additional driver regardless of the relationship


Enterprise


Enterprise is known for their “We’ll Pick You Up” trademark. This makes them extra viable for non-airport related use. Do note that they come with only one car, so you drive the employee back to the local office. Enterprise is also more focused on “neighborhood” locations. Given their merger with National & Alamo, I would expect Enterprise to further differentiate into neighborhood rentals. They may keep using the Enterprise name at airports, but I would bet their focus will be on the neighborhood rentals going forward.

Enterprise Customer Numbers & Coupon Codes

Note that Enterprise doesn’t differentiate between a Customer Number and Coupon Code. You can only enter one.
CST999W – Costco – weekends as low as $9.99 x5/16/14
ENBKDY3 – Entertainment Book 10% off daily rates x6/30/14
ENBKWK3 – Entertainment Book 10% off weekly rates x6/30/14
ENBK2U3 – Entertainment Book 2 car upgrade x6/30/14
Note their is a code for Car&Drive Magazine that is very popular, but it is not clear if it is for employees only so I don’t want to risk anyone getting in trouble by posting it.

Enterprise Additional Driver Policy (USA)

All additional drivers must meet renter policies, appear at counter with primary renter and present license and major credit card.

  • Spouses and domestic partners are free
  • Spouses are free in CA, IL, MO, NV, OR, WI under all circumstances
  • Others are usually around $10 per day per driver

Source: Enterprise.com Answers


Fox Rent A Car


Fox is an alternative company to the “Majors”. Reviews are mixed, but they can often be cheaper than the majors. I do not have personal experience with them. However, if you are going to rent from them, mind as well get the best deal possible.

Fox Rent A Car Discount Link

Fox doesn’t have a lot of Corporate or Discount codes. They are more of an “everyday” low price type of provider. I will update if I find some good ones, or feel free to comment with your favorites.

Closing Remarks

Let us know in the comments if you have coupon codes that work on varied corporate codes. Please do not post corporate codes that are meant to only be used by a specific firm’s employees. We don’t want to create situations where our users get in trouble.

Permanent link to this article: http://freetravelgenius.com/car-rental-discounts/