Car Rental: Fort Lauderdale

Thinking about renting a car while you're here? If you're down here for a couple of weeks and have decided to rent a car we've got a few tips to share. We've been doing it for years and have learned a few things along the way.

If you're looking to save some money, the first thing you need to know is to never rent a car from the airport. Airport rentals have an additional fee added to the daily cost which means if you're renting a car for a week or more you will pay that additional fee for each day you have the car.

Instead, rent off airport. (This was actually a tip given to us by our local Avis dealer). At the time we were renting for a couple of months and they told us that the smartest thing to do is to make two bookings.

The first one is for a 1 day rental from the airport, and the second for the length of your stay from the closest non-airport location to where you are staying. There are no drop off fees with most of the major car rental companies in South Florida so you simply drive with your one day rental to your neighborhood location of choice and switch the car out for your second booking.

By doing it this way, you'll save on the extra airport fees and only pay them for 1 day (on the first rental) instead of, for the duration of your trip. You then use the second booking for your trip and drop it off at the airport on your way out of town. How smart is that?

We've done it many times and it works like a charm and really isn't inconvenient in any way.

Now for an added tip, that we came up with ourselves by chance. For your first booking (from the airport) rent a better grade of car then the one of your second rental. Why? Because chances are you will have the same car for the duration of your trip but pay the rate of the lower grade.

Every time a car comes back they have to clean and wash it. So save them the hassle by saying "If you'd rather not clean and process the car, I'd be happy to keep it."

Chances are, if your second booking was only 1 grade up, they'd rather you kept the car than have to process it through the system and start with another car--especially if they don't need that grade of car for other bookings.

Another thing that everyone who rents a car should know is that prices change daily. Yep. The same car, for the same duration might change drastically in price, so as soon as you find something that works for you book it. There are no cancellation fees and no change fees--you don't even need to give your credit card when booking. Once you have your reservations, then go back daily and keep checking the price. You will be amazed how much the price can change. (We've actually modified our reservation 6 times before a trip, and we saved $150 as a result.)

One more thing... Check for coupons or discount codes. Simply type your preferred car rental agency into Google along with the words "coupons" or "discount codes" and see what comes up. These can also offer substantial savings but make sure you are qualified to use the coupon or code. If you find that it's a discount code for a corporate account you have nothing to do with, then don't bother. Instead, look for Florida tourist codes, airline preferred rates, even Costco discounts...

Finally, if you're curious about where the closest off-airport rental car agency is to Fort Lauderdale International, it's a Thrifty on Miami Rd. We've used them a couple of times and simply took a cab from the airport (it will cost around $12). The taxi driver from the airport wasn't happy about such a short trip but that's life.

Have any tips to share on renting a car? Please comment.

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