A general rule of thumb states the best time to book your rental car and airline tickets is three to six months ahead. However, this is only sometimes true and may vary depending on where you travel.
During peak travel, prices can increase significantly, and companies commonly run out of stock. This is especially true of larger vehicles such as minivans and SUVs.
Six to Twelve Months Ahead
According to a NerdWallet analysis, the best time to book your rental car and airline tickets is six to twelve months ahead of your trip. This is because prices tend to drop around this time.
However, if you want to do it quickly, there are a few things you can do to make sure you get the lowest price. The first is to shop around for coupons.
It would be best to compare different rental car companies before booking. That way, you’ll be more likely to find a better deal than if you go with one company and book directly with them.
Similarly, you should avoid booking your hotel at the last minute because hotel rates generally rise three to six months before check-in. In addition, it’s a good idea to book early for popular destinations like New York City and Chicago, where prices are likely to rise significantly after three months.
If you have a flexible travel schedule, you can also book your hotel and flight together to save money. But be aware that it can be difficult to secure a combination of days that will save you the most money.
As with hotels, car rental prices vary depending on where you’re going and the type of vehicle you’re renting. During busy times, such as Christmas and the Fourth of July, car rental companies raise their prices to compete with competitors and entice customers.
Three to Six Months Ahead
Whether planning your dream vacation or a business trip, booking all the important logistics like flights, hotels, and rental cars can feel daunting.
Conventional wisdom says it’s best to book travel reservations as far as possible to nab the best deals. But a recent analysis by NerdWallet found that the cost of a weeklong rental car is less expensive to book three months in advance than renting it just a few days before the reservation date.
That may seem counterintuitive, but it’s true: The price of car rentals can vary depending on the day of the week, time of year (prices tend to soar around the holidays), type of cars available, and company demand.
In addition, the size of the airport or city you’re picking up your rental vehicle may also impact the rates. In particular, big cities and airports have a higher demand than smaller ones.
According to research, the best time to book your rental car is three to six months ahead. That’s when prices are lowest, but it also comes with a caveat: It might be more challenging to find a deal, especially if you’re looking for something unique or unusual.
One to Two Weeks Ahead
If you’re a seasoned traveler, you know that the best time to book your flights, hotels, and rental car is as far in advance of your trip as possible. That way, you don’t have to worry about last-minute bookings and get the best price on your reservation.
But there’s a downside to booking ahead of time: When you do, you’re limiting your options. That’s because rental car companies use dynamic pricing, adjusting their rates according to supply and demand.
That means prices are more likely to rise when you’re closer to your trip date. And if you’re traveling during the busiest periods of the year, it’s even more important to book well in advance.
To get the best rates, reserve your car online as early as possible and select the option that allows you to lock in a price but pays later. If the rental price drops, you can cancel your reservation and rebook it for less.
It would be best if you also kept an eye out for any seasonal promotions or special deals emailed to your inbox. They can be an excellent way to snag a bargain, especially when you’re traveling during peak tourism season.
One to Two Days Ahead
If you’re planning to rent a car on your next trip, then booking it as soon as possible is the best way to ensure that you get it at a discounted rate. This is because rental car companies use dynamic pricing based on supply and demand, so prices tend to fluctuate significantly.
For example, a study by NerdWallet found that customers pay, on average, $75 more to book a weeklong rental car three months in advance compared to booking it just a week before their reservation start date. That’s a 15% increase in costs simply because of the extra time required to book.
However, you can also save money by renting a car one to two days before your travel dates. This strategy is ideal for travelers who are flexible with their schedules and don’t need a specific vehicle type.
But it’s essential to keep in mind that, like airfare, rates on rental cars are often volatile, so it’s only sometimes a good idea to procrastinate.
Another reason to book a rental car as soon as possible is that it will give you more flexibility if something happens and you need to cancel your booking. Many companies offer a refund or credit for canceled rentals, but some do not.
In addition to securing your rental car, it’s also wise to ensure that your airline tickets and hotel reservations are secured as far in advance as possible. Try to book them back-to-back so that if the price of your flight goes up, you’ll have your hotel and car ready to go.