Rental car shortage: how to save money by booking

Rental companies sold off their inventory to stay afloat last year, but are struggling to buy new cars to replace them.

INDIANAPOLIS – People book rental cars for summer travel, but car rental companies only have a limited number of vehicles available.

This results in prices that are more like plane tickets.

Matt Marietta, of Fishers, said he was aware of the rental limitations, but not quite how bad they were.

“On the north side, there are no cars, so the only cars are here,” said Marietta.

That’s why he had to take a trip to the airport to get a rental car for his parents.

The shortage of rental cars is present across the country. Rental companies sold their inventory to stay afloat last year and normally getting new cars wouldn’t be a problem. Except this time around, automakers are lagging behind in production due to the semiconductor shortage.

Sara Rathner of NerdWallet said this means high prices and problems for consumers.

“I mean, you see stories of people hiring U-Hauls to drive around Hawaii,” Rathner said.

In June, renting a car or truck was nearly 88% more expensive than this time last year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

RELATED: Prices for U.S. Consumers Rise the Most in June in 13 Years

To save money, Rathner said to shop around using sites like Kayak and Expedia. If you are traveling, try to bundle services.

“Don’t ignore them. They are great sources of information and great ways to shop,” Rathner said.

You’ll also want to look for discounts from your employer, credit card, wholesale club, and memberships like AAA or AARP. Military personnel and veterans may also benefit from a reduction.

If you can’t find anything with one of the major carriers, there are peer-to-peer car rental services, like an Airbnb for cars.

“One is called Turo, the other is called Get Around. Lyft is also getting into rental cars. So you can book them directly through the app and your rental includes the fare to take an elevator to instead of picking up the rental car, ”Rathner said.

And don’t stop looking just because you have confirmation.

“Keep shopping because if your rental is refundable, you could cancel your original reservation if you find something that is priced better,” Rathner said.

When it’s time to get the car, they’ll offer you insurance. Check your personal policy ahead of time to see if it covers rental cars so you don’t pay twice for protection.

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