There are many ways to save on rental cars, and many, many blog posts on how to save money when renting cars. There are many valid methods out there, but this is the way I save the most money.
First off, I applied and was approved for the Discover It card. I did this mainly because the Discover shopping portal is incredibly lucrative, both in portal multipliers but also in payouts, and you need the credit card to access the cashback portal. If you use CashBackMonitor, and you should for all online purchases, the Discover portal is almost always at the top of portal multipliers. For instance, I purchase from Staples a lot for reselling, as I get 5x Ultimate Rewards when using my Chase Ink. Staples is almosts always 5% cash back when going through the Discover portal.
On the other side is payouts. (HT to FrequentMiler) You can redeem for pure cash back through the portal, but there are more lucrative payouts, such as for rental cars. You can currently get half price rental certificates for Alamo and Executive Rentals (which are both owned by the same company). They are only available in one denomination ($20 for a $40 certificate), but multiple certificates can be used for one rental; however you need to call in to use more than one, and not every Alamo agent is receptive to it. If you get one that doesn’t let you, just HUCA (hang up, call again).
When I have my certificates, and I’m booking online, I always make sure to go through a portal (usually TopCashBack has the best cash-back rates for Alamo, make sure to check on CashBackMonitor). Make sure to join Alamo Insiders, which is their free loyalty program and often has better rental rates. Also make sure to put your favorite airline’s loyalty program number to pick up airline miles as well.
Then when paying for the balance of the rental (usually only taxes), I use my Chase Ink Visa, for two reasons. First, it offers primary collision liability insurance, which few credit cards do and which saves on insurance increases should you get into an accident. Secondly, if your card is enrolled in Visa SavingsEdge, you can get 4% cash back on Alamo rentals. I find that Alamo rentals are very easy, usually being checked out at a kiosk instead of needing to wait for a person.
Using this strategy, I’ve saved a ton of money on rentals. What are some of your strategies for getting cheap or free rentals?