Are you looking to rent a car this summer? Are you struggling to find a good deal? You are not alone. Car rentals are now insanely priced and even more so, totally unavailable, due to the car shortage and increased demand.
When travel came to an almost grounding halt at the onset of the pandemic, car rental owners realized that meant way, way fewer people were going to be needing to rent cars. Trying to keep the losses at bay, car rental owners steeply declined the numbers of vehicles they were bringing in.
Now, with travel once again on the rise and families more than ready to get back out into the mountains, sunshine, and water, car rentals are obviously back in high demand. But the car rentals have not yet gotten back to their previous bounty of available cars. Short car supply, high car demand, WE NEED OUR CARS BACK!
So if renting cars is not an option, what are your alternatives to making sure you have a car at your disposal throughout the summer months?
Here in this post, we’ll discuss some creative options of how you can still have a car this summer for a reasonable price.
Your local car dealership
The major car rental companies are currently very high priced due to limited inventory and huge demand (discussed above). But, you’d be surprised at what you can get locally. Local car dealers often have cars that they rent out on a short-term basis. Try your local car dealers to see if they have a car available to rent for a reasonable price. You may be surprised to find cheaper deals than you’d ever think possible. Who said you have to travel far to get winner stuff?
To find dealers near you (or even not near you, but you’re willing to travel for a good deal) who have rental options, you can search Google for “Toyota dealer car rental” etc., or you can contact your local dealers directly and ask about their car rental options.
- Prices may be cheaper
- Harder to search as you need to contact each dealer individually
- With most dealers, you will need your own insurance policy
- Cars may come along with small mileage limits
- Not set up as a regular car rental company – may take longer and off-airport locations
Car subscription services
A car subscription service works similarly to a rental but is based on month-to-month contracts rather than day-to-day. For a set fee, you get an all-inclusive vehicle, including insurance and free maintenance.
The cheapest car subscription service I found is Care By Volvo where you can lease a brand new Volvo for $825 – $875, depending on the car. This includes maintenance and insurance (in NY, the price will be a bit cheaper but insurance will not be included). The car needs to be leased for a minimum of 4 months. You do not have to pay any fees or any money down when you take out the lease, yet there is a standard disposition fee of $350 when returning the vehicle.
You can check out many more car subscription options here.
- Can be cheaper than a car rental for someone who needs a car for a few months
- Insurance is included
- You need to commit to 1 to 4 months
- Some of them have an entail subscription fee
Lease take over
If you do not want to commit to a long-term lease, why not consider taking over someone else’s lease with just a few months remaining? It’s a benefit both ways since the lease owner is freed of his lease and can move on to a new one while you get a few months’ time of the car lease, using it as a rental. Sometimes the lease owner will even give you a cash incentive to take over the lease, resulting in you paying cheaper per month than the actual lease.
- No money down
- Potential to find great deals on a short term lease option
- Listings are limited and it can be hard to find a proper match for what you’re looking for
- Insurance and maintenance are not included
Turo is a car-sharing marketplace where people can list their own cars for rent. It’s like a borrowing-juice-from-the-neighbor kind of idea. But you pay them. All you have to do is search the listings in your neighborhood to find reasonably priced cars that you can rent for a day, week, or even a month.
- Prices are sometimes cheaper
- The car gets dropped of by you
- Many different cars, including exotic (Teslas!)
- Car conditions can vary depending on which car you rent
Local car rental companies
Sometimes, even if you can’t find cars from the major brands, you can still search for smaller, local car rental companies, the prices are mostly steady and don’t fluctuate much based on real-time demand and seasons the way they do with the big brands.
- Steady prices – so you can find great deals during high season when the big brands are overpriced
- Often have insurance included
- No loyalty program or discount codes
- They may have older cars or cars in poor condition
- Locations are usually not as convenient as the big brands (off-airport, etc)
Buy a cheap used car
Last but not least. Instead of renting a car, you can consider purchasing a used car for cheap and hope it will last for the time needed. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and his used card might be your ticket this summer to air, sun, and highways.
Buying a used car can go completely left field if you fall in with a lemon. Here are some tips from the Car Shadchan on how to ensure you’re not buying a permanent parking spot at the mechanic.
1) If the seller seems handy you may want to stay away. They may have played around with the car, and not repaired it properly.
2) Find out why the seller is selling the car. Any complicated reason or sob story is a red flag.
3) If the seller seems shady in any way, STAY AWAY.
4) Unless the seller seems very trusted, always request maintenance records.
5) Never say you have cash on you, always meet up at a safe and secure place like a bank.
6) Before you put in an offer, make sure you see the title, confirm that it’s for the right vehicle, and make sure there are no liens (if there are liens, make sure they were released and request a payoff letter).
7) Always mention to the seller that you’re planning on having a mechanic look at it (even if you’re not positive you are). If they are hesitant, STAY AWAY!
8) Make sure to look out for leaks, rust, body/frame damage, engine noise when driving and idling, transmission shifting, braking, turn the wheel fully and look out for noises-popping/cracking, and make sure there are no lights on in the dashboard.