Fri. Jan 28th, 2022

That article is reprinted with permission from NerdWallet.

In the classic travel movie “Planes, Trains, and Cars,” an airport shuttle leaves Steve Martin in a remote parking lot only to find the car he rented isn’t there. He spends the next few days trying to get home by any means possible.

Scenes like this are being played all over the country this summer. In some places, no rental cars are available at any price. In others, a budget-sized rental can cost more than the plane ticket that brought you across the country.

“Planes, Trains, and Cars,” with Steve Martin and John Candy.

Paramount / Everett Collection

While some people don’t want to be part of the madness and have postponed their travel plans, others find creative ways to secure the wheels or at least get to their destination.

Best advice of all: book your rental car before you do anything else.

The drought of the rental car

There is a shortage of rental cars because there is a shortage of new cars because there is a shortage of microchips that are used to control from entertainment systems to security equipment.

This domino effect is slowly reversing, allowing car rental companies to rebuild their fleets to cope with a steady increase in travel. For example, as travel ground stopped in 2020, Hertz HTZZ,
-2.44%
he sought bank protection and sold hundreds of thousands of cars. It went bankrupt in June and added vehicles to its inventory to deal with the boom, according to a company spokesman.

Mismatches between supply and demand are still common. Need a minivan for a Labor Day weekend getaway? Using the Kayak.com search engine to assess availability, a four-day rental in Las Vegas would cost at least $ 441; in Portland, Oregon, $ 1,029; and in Anchorage, Alaska, he would be unlucky at any cost.

Think outside the airport rental desk

Here’s a look at other ways to get where you need to go, some of which may appear on online travel booking sites, along with Dollar, Budget CAR,
+ 3.18%
and Enterprise, some that depend on others to drive. Consider these rental car alternatives:

  • Turo is a peer-to-peer car rental website where people share their private cars. In some cases, you can arrange for your Turo car to be dropped off at the airport and unlocked with an app. But keep in mind that many of these cars are older and others may limit the number of miles you can drive.

  • Getaround is similar to Turo, but allows you to rent a car by the hour. For example, the cost of using a 2019 Honda HMC,
    -0.64%
    Civic for three hours in Southern California hovered around $ 30.

  • Zipcar requires a small membership fee and then charges hourly or daily rates. The cars are stored in city lots or on university campuses. Unlock the car with an app.

  • Haul UHAL,
    + 0.72%
    it is known for trailers and trucks, but to some extent, these vehicles can provide basic transportation. For example, in Southern California, a weekly 9-foot van rental fee is about $ 300 and includes 300 miles of driving, according to the U-Haul site. But, if you are driving to a wedding, make sure the happy couple is okay when you get to a work van. You can find similar commercial vehicles available through Budget, Penske PAG,
    -0.34%
    or other moving truck suppliers.

  • Taxis and services such as Uber UBER,
    -1.19%
    and Lyft LYFT,
    -0.80%
    they are ideal for short hops. Instead of spending a rental price for a week, someone else can drive it for much less.

  • Want more legroom and a driver with a tie? These are just two of the benefits of a limousine service. And while it will cost more than an Uber, you can transport more people and split the extra cost.

  • Take the bus or any other public transportation. In some cities, trains, subways and buses are surprisingly efficient. If you follow this route, buying a daily or weekly pass will save you money and allow you to go up and down at will.

  • If you are looking for a car at home, buy one at your destination and use it for your vacation. Then sell it, drive it back, or send it home.

  • If you are within reasonable reach, consider driving your own car. Yes, it is faster to fly. But if you need a car and can’t find a rental, it might make sense. Maybe you’ll discover something amazing along the way.

Month: $ 259 a day for a rental car? Here’s how to rent one this summer without spending a budget

If you have to rent a car

If you decide to follow the route of the rental car, here are some ways to keep the price low.

  • Check out a neighborhood rental lot. No fees or taxes will be charged for airport facilities and may be very heavy. Try calling the location directly if there is no online availability.

  • Book for a week. There is often a discount for a weekly rent. In some cases, if you return it earlier, you will get a refund of the difference.

  • Pay in advance. Depending on the provider, you can save up to 35%.

  • Use the appropriate credit card. If you pay a small fortune, use a credit card that will return something to you, either with reward points or benefits, such as primary insurance coverage.

  • Use your preferred status as a frequent tenant. It can get to the top of the line faster and, at the highest levels, can guarantee you a car.

More from NerdWallet

Philip Reed writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @AutoReed.

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