In December, I knew I’d need a rental car in Los Angeles for at least three weeks. I normally pick one up at the airport when I land. But not this time.
I often rent cars by bidding for them on Priceline.com because I can usually score a car for 35% below retail. Sometimes more. So first I went to Hertz and priced a small car for 22 days. $1,800. Over the December holidays when business travel is slow? Ridiculous. I check out Avis and Enterprise. Also $1,800.
Maybe demand was much higher than I thought.
So I went to Priceline, shaved enough off the retail price to score a car for maybe $1,200. Sorry, said Priceline–$1,800.
Every frequent traveler knows airport rental car locations add all kinds of steep taxes and fees to pay the airport and maybe even build a local sports stadium—local politicians love to stick visitors with extra taxes.
So I called Hertz and found that if I picked up a car at the Loew’s hotel in Santa Monica, my total price would be less than $700. That’s a saving of $1,100. I took a bus for $1.50 from the airport to Santa Monica.
Lesson learned: You’ll almost always pay much more to rent a car at an airport.