Drive More, Pay Less
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Do You Qualify for These Car Rental Discounts?

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Drive More, Pay Less
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DRIVE MORE, PAY LESS

There’s no reason to pay full price for car rental — ever. Not only do discounts abound, you can save as much as 35 percent just by working in a certain profession or being a member of the right club. There is plenty of fine print, of course. These discounts apply only to the base rate (the daily or weekly rate for use of the vehicle), not to the whole bill, which also includes taxes, fees, and any extras. Many companies promise discounts “up to” a certain amount for a preferred group, or don’t specify a percentage or dollar amount at all.

Cheapism.com has confirmed the discounts at the companies listed here, but it’s always worth checking for similar promotions if you’ve found a cheap rental car elsewhere. And be sure to compare the different types of discounts available to you. You might score bigger savings by flashing one membership card instead of another, or taking advantage of perks such as no fee for an extra driver (as much as $13.50 a day), 24/7 roadside assistance (typically $7 to $10 daily), GPS or in-vehicle Wi-Fi (as much as $17 or more per day), or use of a car seat (around $13 or $14 a day). Those savings can really add up, especially on multi-day rentals. And sometimes, discounts available to the general public are more generous than anything offered to a particular group (as a general rule, offers cannot be combined).

Discounts are subject to change. Restrictions (such as blackout dates) may apply.

Membership Has Benefits
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AAA MEMBERS

Hertz | Dollar | Thrifty

If you belong to AAA, you can score discounts on car rentals at Hertz, Dollar, and Thrifty. The easiest way might be to book through the AAA website, although offers vary from state to state and often have expiration dates. You can also book online directly through the rental car companies’ websites, and use your AAA member code. Hertz offers the deepest discount: up to 20 percent off. Deals on extras include 10 percent off the fuel purchase option, 50 percent off Sirius XM radio (usually $7.99 a day), $6.99 for a GPS unit, and a free child car seat. An additional driver who is a AAA member is not subject to an additional fee, and surcharges for “young drivers” 20 to 24 (which start around $27 per day and vary by location and class of car) are waived. AAA member discounts of 10 percent at Dollar and 8 percent at Thrifty seem paltry by comparison. Both offer a free extra driver and child seat, as well as a 10 percent discount on GPS, at least.

AARP. Really?
AARP. Really? by bisongirl (CC BY-NC-ND)

AARP MEMBERS

Avis | Budget | Hertz | Payless

AARP has partnered with Expedia to establish a travel center, but members can also go to the AARP website and click directly to deals from Avis, Budget, and Payless. Both Avis and Budget promise discounts of up to 30 percent, plus a free one-class upgrade on many models, $6.99 for GPS, 24-hour roadside assistance, and one extra driver for free. AARP members also have free limited liability coverage up to $5,000. Payless gives AARP members a mere 5 percent off, as well as a free extra driver and car upgrade. Although AARP doesn’t list Hertz among its partners, the company promises 25 percent savings for AARP members on its website.

More Senior Savings
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SENIORS 50 AND OLDER

Alamo | E-Z | Hertz | Sixt | Thrifty

You don’t need to be a member of AARP to get a senior discount on car rental — you just have to be at least 50 years old. Hertz has its own Fifty Plus Program with a discount of 20 percent, although that’s not as good as the 25 percent discount for AARP members. Thrifty’s Silver Club, gives seniors just 5 percent off. Alamo promises an unspecified discount to those who qualify for its Senior Circle and sometimes offers free car upgrades. E-Z Rent A Car has a 10 percent coupon that can be used by anyone over 50. And if you book through Sixt’s senior page, you can get 5 percent off.

Alexa
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AMAZON CUSTOMERS

Budget

If you’re a loyal Amazon customer, you may want to book your car rental with Budget. We found a lucrative offer there for 30 percent off, plus 10 percent back in the form of an Amazon gift card. Book your reservation using Alexa, and you get a gift card worth 20 percent of the base rate. Although the terms of this discount include no expiration date, there’s no telling how long any rental car offer will last.

Is Costco the Best Place to Buy a Car?
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COSTCO, SAM'S CLUB, OR BJ'S MEMBERS

Avis | Alamo | Budget | Dollar | Enterprise | Hertz | National | Payless

Costco might be known for its vacation packages, but it does car rental, too. The deals range from a free upgrade and undisclosed “Costco member savings” at Alamo and Enterprise to 25 or 30 percent off at Avis and Budget. There are also special limited-time offers that pair a free upgrade or free day of rental with those discounts — Budget offers the best deals. Sam’s Club also promotes car rental savings but doesn’t provide the exact discounts available at its partners, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, and National. Members are vaguely promised “up to 20 percent off nationwide.” BJ’s Wholesale Club members can score the most substantial deals, with savings of up to 35 percent at Avis and Budget, as well as discounts or upgrades at Alamo, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Payless.

Credit Card Insurance

CREDIT CARD HOLDERS

Alamo | Avis | Hertz | Sixt
Not only do many credit card companies provide some form of complimentary insurance coverage for car rentals purchased with their cards, there are many exclusive (often limited-time) deals on car rentals available to card holders. During a recent online search, we found offers of up to 25 percent off at Hertz and 10 percent off at Sixt for Visa card holders. There’s a less-generous 10 percent discount at Hertz for MasterCard users. Using a MasterCard or Discover Card at Alamo will also net savings (although the company doesn’t say exactly how much), and American Express members can currently get 15 percent off at Avis. While this sampling of discounts may not be available indefinitely, judging by expired deals we found, consumers can expect to find perks for using their preferred plastic with at least one of the major car rental companies.

Airline Frequent-Flyer Programs
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FREQUENT FLYERS

Alamo | Avis | Budget | Dollar | Hertz | National | Payless | Sixt | Thrifty

Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Allegiant, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, and United all have partnerships with car rental companies. Many of the deals are for mileage bonuses, however, not discounts. Members of Southwest Airlines’ Rapid Rewards program have the most car rental discounts to choose from: up to 35 percent off at Avis and Hertz; 30 percent at Budget; 25 percent at National; and 10 percent at Dollar, Payless, and Thrifty. At the other end of the spectrum, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines generally offer only miles. Most other airlines offer at least a couple of actual discounts on car rentals. For instance, members of ultra-low-cost Spirit Airlines’ Free Spirit club enjoy a 35 percent discount at Avis and 30 percent at Budget, in addition to extra miles.

Hotel Rewards Programs
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HOTEL REWARDS MEMBERS

Alamo | Avis | Budget | Enterprise | Hertz | National | Sixt 
Like the airlines, the biggest hotel chains in the country have partnerships with rental car companies. Most chains are affiliated with more than one, although Marriott International (which also owns Starwood Hotels and Resorts) seems to work exclusively with Hertz. Members of the InterContinental Hotels Group Rewards Club enjoy some of the best offers: up to 35 percent off at Hertz and 30 percent at Avis and Budget, in addition to the standard point awards. Choice Hotels’ Choice Privileges program offers 25 percent discounts at Avis and Budget, and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts has partnered with those two companies as well. Hilton Honors members can earn points and 25 percent off rentals at National and are also eligible for unspecified discounts at Alamo and Enterprise. Best Western Hotels & Resorts may not command the biggest discounts for its rewards members, but they have the widest selection of car rental partners offering discounts: 25 percent off at Avis, Budget, or National; 15 percent off at Sixt; and unspecified “savings” at Alamo or Enterprise.

Insurance Companies
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INSURANCE POLICYHOLDERS

Alamo | Hertz | National

You may be able to save some money on car rental through your car or home insurance policy, although these offers are less common than other discounts. For example, Geico policyholders can save up to 20 percent at National. Alamo also advertises savings for Geico customers on its website, although (as we generally found to be the case with this company) it doesn’t specify how much. Hertz gives discounts of up to 25 percent to Allstate customers.

LGBTQ
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LGBTQ CUSTOMERS

Advantage

Gay and lesbian travelers looking for car rental savings mostly likely will find them through special-interest travel and professional organizations. We were able to find one offer from Advantage. While this car rental company isn’t big on discounts in general, it has one for members of vacation site GayTravel, where Advantage has been named an award winner for car rental two years running. The deal: 20 percent off, plus no charge for a second driver and automatic enrollment in the upgraded silver tier of Advantage’s Expressway rewards program.

English Teacher Abroad
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TEACHERS, STUDENTS, AND ALUMNI

Alamo | Dollar | Enterprise | E-Z | Hertz | National | Sixt

Members of the National Education Association are eligible for car rental discounts at five partner companies. Hertz and National offer the best deals: up to 25 percent off. PTA members are also entitled to up to 20 percent off from Hertz, and a free child seat is included in that deal. Teachers, school employees, and students can claim 10 percent savings at E-Z Rent A Car or 5 percent at Sixt — no membership required. Alamo’s Student Advantage program also promises “terrific,” but unspecified, savings. Members of state or municipal teachers associations, university faculty and staff, and alumni association members are often privy to discounts as well.

Active Military Members And Veterans
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ACTIVE MILITARY AND VETERANS

Alamo | Avis | Budget | Dollar | Enterprise | E-Z | Hertz | National | Sixt | Thrifty

Nearly every major car rental company offers military discounts, but the amounts vary considerably. Members of the Veterans Advantage program can claim benefits from nine different partners. Avis and Budget offer the best discounts, at 25 percent off, and next-best National promises 20 percent savings. Although Dollar’s discount is comparatively meager, at 5 percent off, it may be the best choice if you’re under 25, because the standard $25-a-day young-driver fee is waived, as well. Military personnel can also go directly to Dollar to take advantage of a 5 percent discount on leisure travel for government employees. But there’s no fee waiver with that deal; just an upgrade offer. Insured by the United Services Automobile Association? USAA policyholders are eligible for discounts of up to 35 percent at Avis, Budget, and Hertz. Enterprise offers just 5 percent off. All the partners waive young-driver and additional-driver fees, and primary liability insurance is built in.

American Jobs Hurt By Immigration Sanctions
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UNION MEMBERS

Alamo | Avis | Budget | Dollar | Enterprise | Hertz | National | Payless | Thrifty
Many major labor unions offer members rental car discounts. For instance, members of the AFL-CIO and other unions can find rental car deals on the Union Plus website for up to 25 percent off at Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, Payless, and Thrifty. The Service Employees International Union has National, Dollar, Enterprise, Alamo, and Hertz on its list of partners. Only Hertz’s SEIU deal matches the 25 percent discount offered to Union Plus members, but there are added perks from many companies. For example, National’s 20 percent discount and Alamo’s unspecified savings come with free roadside assistance. And Hertz and Alamo don’t make SEIU members pay for an extra driver.

Police, Fire Fighters, And First Responders
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POLICE, FIRE FIGHTERS, AND FIRST RESPONDERS

Avis | Budget | Dollar | E-Z | Hertz | Payless | Sixt | Thrifty
Some of the deals that military and other government employees enjoy also apply to first responders. And members of the International Union of Police Associations and the International Association of Fire Fighters can take advantage of the same rental deals as other labor groups served by benefits organization Union Plus. Not a union member? You can still save at E-Z Rent A Car and Sixt, which offer discounts for all police and service personnel (10 percent at E-Z and 5 percent at Sixt).

I Don't Have a Doctor's Appointment
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DOCTORS, NURSES, AND HEALTH PRACTITIONERS

Alamo | Avis | Budget | Dollar | Hertz | National | Sixt | Thrifty

First-responder car rental discounts are not the only deals available for medical professionals. Physicians, nurses, and students in medical school can also claim deals if they belong to certain professional organizations. For example, members of the American Medical Association are entitled to 7 percent savings at Dollar and Thrifty and as much as 25 percent at Hertz. Hertz also waives young-driver fees for student members. Other major medical associations that offer rental discounts include the American Psychological Association — up to 25 percent off at Avis and Budget — and the American Medical Students Association. Members of the AMSA who rent at Alamo and National don’t have to worry about young-driver fees, and they’re also eligible for upgrades. National even provides a coupon for a free weekend day along with a 20 percent discount. Sixt offers all doctors and medical staff a 5 percent discount.

Fraternal/Service Organizations
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FRATERNAL/SERVICE ORGANIZATION MEMBERS

Avis | Budget | Dollar | Enterprise | Hertz | National | Thrifty
Some car rental companies offer discounts to members of fraternal or service organizations such as Rotary International and the Junior League. For instance, members of the Fraternal Order of Eagles and Elks Club can save up to 25 percent at Hertz and 7 percent at Dollar or Thrifty. Lions Club members can save a similar amount at Hertz, 20 percent at Budget, and 25 percent at Avis, respectively. (Enterprise and National also offer unspecified deals.) Rotarians are eligible for discounts of up to 25 percent at Avis and Budget, but just 15 percent off at Hertz.

Airline And Travel Industry Workers
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AIRLINE AND TRAVEL INDUSTRY EMPLOYEES

Alamo | Avis | Budget | Dollar | Enterprise | Hertz | Payless | Sixt | Thrifty

If you’re a travel agent or work for an airline, you can score car rental discounts for personal trips. Travel agents who present the proper credentials are entitled to 20 to 35 percent off at Budget — one of the best discounts we found from the brand. Eight car rental partners offer savings to members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, including up to 25 percent off at Avis, Budget, National, and Hertz. Members of the Air Line Pilots Association and the Association of Flight Attendants qualify for the same savings at Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, Payless, and Thrifty as other union members though the Union Plus website. Even if you’re officially unaffiliated, you may be able to score discounts. Alamo, for instance, has offered reduced rates for employees of American Airlines and Delta. Sixt offers a standard 5 percent discount to all employees of airlines, hotels, and tour companies.

Lawyers
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LEGAL PROFESSIONALS

Avis | Dollar | Hertz | Thrifty
If you’re a lawyer, law student, or paralegal, you have a right to save on car rental. Lawyers and law students who are members of the American Bar Association receive up to 25 percent off at Hertz, plus unspecified savings at Dollar and Thrifty. Paralegals who are members of the National Association of Legal Assistants enjoy a similar discount at Hertz, and 7 percent off at Dollar and Thrifty. Joining the National Lawyers Association nets up to 20 percent off at Hertz and 30 percent at Avis. If you’re a member of a state or municipal lawyers association, you may also be eligible for savings. Unaffiliated public defenders can look to the many car rental discounts available to government employees.

Other Industry Groups And Trade Associations
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OTHER INDUSTRY GROUPS AND TRADE ASSOCIATIONS

Avis | Budget | Enterprise | Hertz | National

Odds are that if you belong to a professional trade, industry, or interest group, there’s a car rental discount tucked into the bundle of benefits. Members of the National Association of Realtors, for example, can save 25 percent at Avis, Budget, and Hertz. The Associated General Contractors of America has a similar arrangement with Avis and Budget. (Hertz appears to be a partner too, but no specifics are offered.) Even members of the American Poolplayers Association have a shot at savings from four different car rental companies. RV owners who have joined the Family Motor Coach Association are entitled to savings at Avis, Enterprise, National, and Hertz.

Weddings And Other Special Events
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WEDDINGS AND OTHER SPECIAL EVENTS

Alamo | Avis | Budget | Hertz | Payless

Planning a wedding, family reunion, business retreat, or other important event? A handful of car rental companies offer group discounts, but you have to call directly or submit an online form to find out what sort of savings you can arrange for your family and friends. You also have to guarantee a minimum number of renters; Avis and Hertz require that your group consist of at least five. On top of special rates, you might also be offered some nice extras. Budget, for example, gives free roadside assistance to groups, and Avis hands out seven certificates good for a free day of rental if at least 20 cars are rented.