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Rapid Travel Chai: Rental Cars at FTU DCA 2014

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Rapid Travel Chai Rental Cars at Frequent Traveler University, Washington, D.C., December 2014.

How to save on rental cars from finding the best rates to avoiding fees. Portals such as Costco, BJ's, Capital One, Chase and Citi are tested to find the best deals. Insurance and other extras are discussed for what you need and don't The final section looks beyond the US to renting and driving internationally.

Published in: Travel
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Rapid Travel Chai: Rental Cars at FTU DCA 2014

  1. 1. Rental Cars FTU DCA 2014 Stefan Krasowski Rapid Travel Chai
  2. 2. What is Your Priority? Leisure? Business? Domestic? International? ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  3. 3. My Rental Car Experience Rented cars weekly for 2 years of NY-Atlanta commute Lots of short US trips for 1-2 people International rentals in many countries Fender benders in US Breakdown in Bulgaria Smash and grab in Toronto Wife threatening divorce in Saudi Arabia ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  4. 4. Itinerary Rental Agencies Portals Hotwire and Priceline More Deals Extras and How to Avoid Them International Strategy ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  5. 5. Goal Setting Reserving: You can spend a lot of time to save a little money Renting: You can save a little money to have a lot of aggravation Set goals and stick to them! ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  6. 6. Rental Car Tradeoff Hypothetical When to not save $10: Orlando, FL car rental Spring break Huge lines at counter Eye-rolling spouse Screaming children When to save $10: Moline, IL car rental Always off-peak No lines No spouse No children ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  7. 7. Rental Agencies ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  8. 8. Alamo Alamo Insiders for skip the line and free additional driver No rewards program Few big miles and points promos ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  9. 9. Avis Avis Preferred – skip the line Avis First – 12 rentals/35 days or Chase Ink; weekend certs Avis President’s & Chairman’s – invitation only Double-dip with Avis Corporate Rewards Lots of miles & points promos ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  10. 10. Budget Lots of international locations RapidRez profile + FastBreak to skip the line Technically need 3 rentals/year to keep FastBreak No rewards program ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  11. 11. Dollar/Thrifty Dollar Express/Thrifty Blue Chip to skip the line Enroll for rewards: 16 rental days = 1 free day Few big miles and points promos Watch for scammy fees like huge daily toll charges ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  12. 12. Enterprise Tons of US neighborhood locations Enterprise Plus: Stingy, complicated rewards program Must register, then separately opt in for rewards Can credit National rentals to Enterprise No miles and points promos ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  13. 13. Hertz Gold Plus Rewards - earn and redeem in many countries Rewards great for one-way rentals - ≈ double price Five Star/President’s Circle = 7/20 rentals per year Platinum membership fee $1,200-$1,500 per year Amex Biz Platinum – 4-hour grace period (must use CDP) Amex Open Business – 3-10% discount or 1-4 points bonus ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  14. 14. Hertz: Delta & United Delta Medallion bonuses with Hertz United copied earning and added elite status for 2015 1K/Plat/Club Card/Presidential Plus Card = President’s Circle Gold/Silver = Five Star ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  15. 15. National Emerald Club: 1 rental = 1 credit (8 day rental = 2 credits, 12 = 3, etc) Free days are 7/6/5 credits depending on elite status Credit Enterprise rentals to National Regular 1-2-Free promo is generous Exec Exec Elite 12 rentals or 25 days or Amex Platinum Exec Elite 40 rentals or 80 days Emerald Club Aisle – must reserve midsize or higher ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  16. 16. Earning Miles & Points Watch the fees, see Travel by Points: http://bit.ly/1mF4AOY Offers constantly come and go, always check fine print Avis has lots of offers: Virgin Atlantic 1,000 miles for 1-day rental Club Carlson 9,000 points for 3-day rental Delta & Hertz often have good offers ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  17. 17. Corporate Programs Double-dip with corporate programs ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  18. 18. Portals ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  19. 19. Portal Basics Membership or credit card to book (maybe not to rent) Discounts/coupons are quarterly, best deals within 3 months Typically cannot earn awards or miles Typically cannot skip the line with frequent renter program Typically few international locations Often saves a lot of money ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  20. 20. Costco Travel Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise – can add frequent renter Fully flexible – no credit card required Good for large vehicles Low price finder not perfect – test coupons manually ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  21. 21. BJ’s Travel Similar to Costco but adds Dollar, Hertz & National Don’t need to be a member to book ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  22. 22. Capital One Must have Capital One card, but can pay with any card Pay with points or cash Prepaid but can cancel up to 24 hours before rental ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  23. 23. Chase Ultimate Rewards & Citi ThankYou Same platform, often same pricing Chase must pay with registered card Pay with points or cash Prepaid but can cancel up to 24 hours before rental No one-ways or off-airport ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  24. 24. Hotwire and Priceline ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  25. 25. The Hotwire and Priceline Tradeoff Why to Not Use: No changes, no refunds* Unpleasant surprises* No elite status recognition* No miles and points* Why to Use: Save Money *There are always exceptions and luck ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  26. 26. Hotwire and Priceline Fees Hotwire Priceline opaque rates often loaded with fees Do not compare per day rates Do compare total price Portland 1 day car: Expedia $18/day=$23 total vs Priceline $18 bid=$29.34 ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  27. 27. Hotwire Hot Rates Rates often not as good as flexible reservation portals (Costco, Capital One, Chase, etc.) Guaranteed major agency – but includes Dollar/Thrifty No off-airport, no one-way Must be age 25+ ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  28. 28. Hotwire Hot Rates Pick-up up to 24 hours late – book Sun night, pick-up Mon (call agency to hold a car on peak times) Atlanta Sun 10 pm pick-up $63.65 vs Mon 8 am $81.26 ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  29. 29. Hotwire Hot Rates Always unlimited miles (important for international) 30-minute grace period on returns Extensions at agency rates – can be very expensive All add-ons billed at agency rates (e.g. Dollar/Thrifty huge toll charges) ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  30. 30. Priceline Name Your Own Price® Rates often 10-30% lower than Hotwire Alamo, Avis, Budget, Hertz, and National only Rates not always available – change search parameters No off-airport, no one-way Always unlimited miles (important for international) Extensions and add-ons at agency rates Drivers under 25 allowed for additional fees ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  31. 31. Priceline Cars – Bidding Strategy Step 1: Priceline Lowball Test Enter a lowball bid and click “Choose” ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  32. 32. Priceline Cars – Bidding Strategy Step 2 (cont): Lowball triggers “low chance of being accepted” If you don’t get this screen, you are starting too high ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  33. 33. Priceline Cars – Bidding Strategy Step 2 (cont): “Previous Page” and step up the bids ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  34. 34. Priceline Cars – Bidding Strategy Step 2 (cont): Priceline Sweetspot when goes to offer page You’re not done yet! ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  35. 35. Priceline Cars – Bidding Strategy Step 3: Bid around Priceline Sweetspot For short, economy rentals, $1-$2 under often works Longer rentals and bigger cars can widen the gap Can be more aggressive depending on lead time Needed car next day so bid $16, final price $54.36 with Hertz ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  36. 36. Priceline Cars – Re-Bidding the Official Way Same trip wait 24 hours to re-bid Can immediately re-bid for different car type (up or down) Compact may be same price as economy Change return date may allow re-bid (e.g. Tue 6 am, then try Mon 11 pm – you get the car for 24-hour days) I generally find 1-2 weeks out is good time to bid ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  37. 37. Priceline Re-Bidding Hack 1. Use browser private window 2. Don’t log in 3. Bid with low balance gift card 4. Repeat in new private browser ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  38. 38. Priceline Re-Bidding Hack If bid is accepted you get a processing error If not accepted, no processing error You can enter correct number or abandon ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  39. 39. Other Deals ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  40. 40. Endless Sources to Try Check out Million Mile Secrets 12-Part Cheap Car Rentals http://millionmilesecrets.com/category/rental-cars/ ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  41. 41. Are OTAs Useful? OTAs are mainly a starting point, rarely the best deal Kayak is useful for meta-search Priceline often has good flexible rates ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  42. 42. Discover Certificates $20 for $40 certificates at Alamo, Enterprise, National Read the exclusions, except some hassles in redemption Check out FrequentMiler: http://bit.ly/1hoI3Vy ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  43. 43. Corporate Codes Corporate codes can be useful IF YOU ARE ELIGIBLE Often good for eliminating one-way fees Risky to use non-eligible codes – invalidate insurance SEA-PDX: $62 vs $198 with my corporate code ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  44. 44. Off-Airport Check locations on agency websites Reach by walk, hotel shuttles, public transport Verify hours – closed Sunday, charge till Monday May pick you up (but not at airport) May drop you off (possibly at airport) Many portals do not include off-airport ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  45. 45. Off-Airport Example Atlanta Mon peak: airport $66.71 vs off $48.15/day One Subway Stop Away Verify Business Hours ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  46. 46. Don’t Forget Cashback Portals Cashback deals for rental agencies and OTAs Always check the fine print, especially for OTAs ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  47. 47. Extras and How to Avoid Them ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  48. 48. Insurance - CDW Most credit cards provide CDW secondary to any insurance Chase United Explorer and Diners Club are primary Amex Premium Rental Protection is primary but only CDW ($19.95/$24.95 per rental) If you are comfortable using your own auto insurance, you don’t need CDW Business cards typically limited to business rentals Example: smash and grab in Toronto on business rental with Chase Ink Plus – claim process took 3 months ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  49. 49. Insurance - Other Credit cards only cover CDW, nothing else!!! Liability – state mandated minimums enough for you? Personal Accident, Theft – evaluate based on your needs ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  50. 50. Additional Drivers 1. Avis, Budget & Enterprise – free for spouse or partner 2. Alamo, Hertz & National – free for program members 3. Book through Costco Travel portal 4. AAA, AARP & USAA membership & using their codes 5. California law See details at Million Mile Secrets: http://bit.ly/QAZ8Bv ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  51. 51. Young Drivers 20 years old can rent with Hertz, 21 at other agencies Under 25 surcharge varies by agency and state, $15+/day Free membership with USAA (no military affiliation required) and book with their codes waives the fee at Avis, Budget, Enterprise and Hertz See details at Million Mile Secrets: http://bit.ly/QHW0nc ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  52. 52. One-Way Charges Very hard to avoid one-way charges Minimize by doing separate rental for one-way days only Redeem Hertz points for roughly double roundtrip price Some corporate codes may waive one-way ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  53. 53. Tolls Most agencies charge per toll plus daily fee for entire rental Dollar/Thrifty charges per day for unlimited tolls Welcome to Newark - $17.49/day Trip one toll and you are charged for the ENTIRE rental Ways to avoid: 1.Get a toll pass for frequent destinations 2.Pay tolls online with toll authority right after rental ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  54. 54. Fuel Refill or prepay The less than 75 mile rental scam – must have fuel receipt ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  55. 55. International ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  56. 56. International Driving Exhilarating or stressful? Is driving the best option? Will your companions be a nuisance? ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  57. 57. International Driving Alternative Charter a taxi for a day • Pick a moving taxi, not one parked by your hotel • Test driver first with a short trip • Be very clear about route, time and costs ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  58. 58. My Guide to International Driving Driving on the left is surprisingly easy Driving a manual in tight, hilly European towns is not easy Automatics are rare and expensive ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  59. 59. International Driving Permit Valid only for 1 year, can be forward dated for trip Need to get in home country (get at AAA in US) Relatively few countries insist on IDP to rent Absolutely must have in Japan and South Korea Must carry driver’s license as well ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  60. 60. International Booking Booking sites often ‘location not found’/’sold out’ Try rental agency websites Try AutoEurope for unlimited mileage (not just for Europe) ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  61. 61. International Rental Process Major agencies are almost all local franchise Rarely get elite benefits (some exceptions like Australia) Slow, slow, slow rental process in many countries Frequent renter program preferences can mess things up like insurance options that are not equivalent (ex: I have had Avis US liability become EU Supercover) ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  62. 62. International Gotchas High mileage charges – I had a 0 km rate in Macedonia! After-hours pick-up/drop-off charges – especially Europe Winterization – Europe again Mandatory insurance – Mexico & Central America Cross-border fees and paperwork One-way drop charges Administrative fees for traffic violations ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  63. 63. International Gotchas Riga, Latvia: $43 to pick up at 8 pm! Ayers Rock: 100 km fee + $0.23 per km! ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  64. 64. The Avis/Budget Home Currency Scam Avis/Budget default opt your credit cards to bill in home currency at terrible rate plus 3% fee Uncheck!!! Europe may still be USD – don’t use Avis profile to reserve ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  65. 65. International Insurance Credit card CDW exclusions – Ireland, Israel, Italy and more Many Chase and Citi cards now cover ALL countries – get certificate of coverage for rental agency (Ireland, Israel) Insurance often mandatory, sometimes included in rate: • Canada rates include liability • Mexico/Central America require adding liability • Basic CDW included in Europe – Supercover enhances • Kuwait temporary license and insurance ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  66. 66. International GPS T-Mobile phone with free data in 120+ countries Offline map apps for iPhone and Android GPS device – buy region map chips on ebay ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  67. 67. Strategy ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  68. 68. My US Strategy My goal: economy to mid-size for cheap 1. Baseline check at Hotwire 2. BJ’s, Costco or Capital One provisional booking 3. Recheck 2-3 months out (new portal coupons) 4. Recheck and try Priceline 1-2 weeks out My key: keep discipline to avoid endless rate searches ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  69. 69. My International Strategy My goal: basic car, unlimited mileage, no surprises 1. Check portals, especially BJ’s (others limit locations) 2. Check agencies & verify location, hours, charges 3. Check OTAs like AutoEurope and Priceline My key: major agency with unlimited mileage ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved
  70. 70. Thank You rapidtravelchai.com stefan@rapidtravelchai.com @rapidtravelchai ©Stefan Krasowski, All Rights Reserved

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