Sunday, 14 October 2012

How to save $ hundreds on your USA car rental

When we last left our hero, she was driving around Orlando somewhat like this ....

 ........ in one of these....

Today I am going to share the mystery and secrets of car hire in the USA so you can do the same!

Whilst Disney provides free transport within the World, once you want to go outside the WDW boundary you pretty much need a car to get anywhere. Inside WDW I like the car so as not to waste time with slow buses, long queues and changes with boats, monorail and buses.

Let's use my upcoming trip so see how it works.

  • 11 days
  • pick up at Downtown Disney, drop off at Orlando Airport
  • Mid-sized category - "Toyota Corolla" (although last year I scored that red VW Jetta in this category)
Right now, I will not add GPS, fuel purchasing, personal products insurance, road toll card, kiddie seats or any of the myriad of discount codes and coupons you can access.

Now Orlando Airport is the largest car rental location in the world - averaging 5,500 cars per day! Every company, offering every type of car is there - and they also offer every range of pricing.

Here is my first look through some of the major companies

* US resident and "pay at counter" rate
So what's going on? Look at that Alamo pricing - both the cheapest AND the most expensive! For the SAME car - from the SAME OUTLET!

Let's keep looking at Alamo - except this time through the travel wholesavers:

Again - the same car - same pick up office - same dates - Expedia double the price of Traveljigsaw
So by now you are yelling for me to shut up! Either you know what is going on or you wanna find out!

Insurance wholesaling

I know precious little about how it works, but here is what I do know:
  1. Car rental companies operate like two separate businesses - there is the car rental part, and there is the insurance part.
  2. Unlike Australia, in the US, residents' comprehensive car insurance can cover rental cars. So car rental companies allow you to rent a car without buying any insurance.
  3. I'm freaked out by the idea of crashing a car or hitting something when in the US, so I want insurance.
  4. US Car rental insurance doesn't have the concept of "excess". So the "car excess insurance" offered in Australian travel insurance and on my credit card is useless. 
  5. If you book your car online in advance you can access a WAY better deal on the insurance, and so NEVER turn up at the counter without having organised the insurance before hand. You will always pay the most expensive rate of insurance if organised in the moment at the counter. (e.g. that Alamo rate of $1,248 up there).
Another option for you - and particularly of interest for our UK & European readers - is to buy your car rental insurance separately, and then rent the car without the insurance - like a lot of US residents do.

icarhireinsurance can sell you all inclusive car rental insurance for almost anywhere in the world. For the USA they charge a flat rate of around $10/day - which is far lower than the $25/day charged at the rental company counter.
Based in the UK and will sell to anyone for car hire almost anywhere.
Going this way gives you freedom to book one of those last minute deals most of the car rental companies offer. Alamo's current last minute rate for the Corolla is around $200/week. So add the icarhire insurance rate of $110, 11 days rental would cost roughly $400. Hmmm ..... roughly the same as that Traveljigsaw rate.

And who likes standing at a rental counter feeling pressured to buy strange insurance products - you'll have the peace of mind to know you are already covered.

For me - has offered the best deal for a major rental supplier. It's about as close as I can get to cheapest rental car rate going for Alamo. I don't have to hope for a last minute deal and I have all the insurance products included in the booking.

It is easy to part with a lot of money for your rental car hire. Do a bit of online research save yourself hundreds!


  1. Thanks for sharing, but is it hourly charges or a full day charge?

    1. Car hire rates are for a minimum 24 hour slot. So even if you go one or two hours over, that's another day's rate thank you very much.

  2. Hmmm Shame we are all going to Orlando and not singapore or India

  3. Sorry chaps - we are off to Orlando and not India. After a rash of Indian spam i am deleting them all now - will do the same to any new similar comments.

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  6. Some really nice and helpful advice given.. i was looking for something like this

    Search Car rental prices italy for best of service.

  7. Geez - I seem to have become car rental spam central - it's all spam my dear readers - but they say such nice things I don't want to delete it!