How I Saved $500 On The Same Rental Car From the Same Company - Running with Miles
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How I Saved $500 On The Same Rental Car From the Same Company

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Written by Charlie

There are different ways to have car rental savings. This shows one way I saved over $500 on one car rental from the same car from the same company.

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Rental car prices can be insane – depending on where you are going and when. When it seems everyone is traveling to your “perfect” destination, the rental car rates will likely be very high!

But, at least in my recent situation, there was a way to get around some of those high rates that may work for you as well!

How I Saved $500 On the Same Rental Car From the Same Company

The Situation

A couple of weeks ago, I was in need of a rental car for the next for almost a week. Since summer months in northern Greece (think Halkidiki beaches) is prime tourist time, rental car prices are much higher than normal. While I can typically get a rental car for a week from Avis for under $170, rates were over $500 for the smallest of cars because of the season.

I normally start with Holiday Autos to get some idea of general prices (and sometimes the cheapest prices) and found rates to be somewhat reasonable at around $200 for that timeframe. However, when I was putting in my billing information, it jumped over $500 once I changed my country of billing from Greece to the USA (I was searching this in Greece so it defaulted to that as my location).

Using even services like Autoslash failed to give me a decent enough rate in my search to get the price much lower.

I will note here that some cards like Amex have allowed different billing countries in the past but it is not something I typically try so I avoided doing that.

Local Location

The same pricing came up when I was searching Avis directly – over $700 for an intermediate car for 5 days! Not going to happen! But then I did something I rarely do for rental cars, I went to Priceline. Not to bid, but to look at prices.

The cars below are the same vehicles, same dates, and both from Avis. The above is $663 directly from Avis as showing a US billing and the image below is approximately $333 from Priceline using a Greek IP address.

Car rental savings

The cost from Avis showing the regular price – same car type and dates as the one below

Car rental savings

An similar example showing the cost for the same car and dates as the one above – both from Avis

When I searched Priceline, it again defaulted to Greek location since that is where it saw me and gave me the $200 price again. But, since I could select to pay at the counter, I didn’t have to put any billing information in at the time to charge my card or even verify it so it did not require a change of country.

I printed out the receipt in case they had an issue but there were no problems at all and I even got a small upgrade (Avis Preferred). In the end, I got the same car from the same company that I had originally tried – only $500 cheaper!

So, how can you try this?

The secret is in your location. If the website sees that you are outside the country, it will assume that you are a tourist and give you the inflated prices. The trick is to make the website think you are a local. This is easily accomplished by using something called a VPN – virtual private network. This allows you to set your location wherever you want it in the world and is useful for services that require a US location or, in this case, showing that you are local to the rental agency.

This same thing also can work for flights and hotels, but definitely try it first on your next foreign rental car quote. You may be surprised at how much you can save as well!

Takeaway

Will this work for all travel situations? No, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to give it a try on your next search! Of course, the opposite may prove true also – during low tourist season in some locations, you may be able to get a better rate out of the country rather than in the location. In such a case, if you are on holiday there, using the VPN could help you again.

In any event, I was very happy to see a savings of $500 on a rental car reservation!

Editorial Note - Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

8 Comments

  • This happened to me this week. However, it was not about VPN but Hertz, Europcar, Sixt and others specifically ask you for tour country of residence on their website. When playing with that I not only see huge price differences but a drastic change in options available to rent. I am renting a car in Sicily next week. If I keep US as my country of residence I get very limited options with crazy prices. However, if I change the country of residency to Italy or UK for example I have a huge selection of cars to chose from and at much cheaper prices. Question: what potential issues I can have if I basically lie on my country of residency when chosing the cars for a reservation? My concern os that they may not honor the reservation but even worse if for any reason I have a claim and use my credit card insurance to deal with that. Thoughts? Also, I may get them trying to inflate prices for tourists but why limit the selection so much if you are a US resident?

    • That is the exactly potential issue you may run into. If you read the fine prints, you will find it to be vastly different from country to country.

      No expert here, but I wouldn’t do this to save just a couple bucks. But for $500 in saving, I will probably do it.

  • Great post but could you elaborate on the VPN logistics? I use a VPN solely for purposes of security over public wifi, but I don’t have a choice in the VPN location. Do you have a VPN that allows you to choose a VPN location, and change it periodically? Would your idea work if I were in the U.S. and used a VPN in Greece (in your anecdote)? Presumably I’d get a slow internet response time but if it is just for 1 transaction (and then I could change it back to a U.S. VPN location), that would be fine, of course. Any recommendations on a VPN provider for that purpose? Thank you.

    • I use NordVPN and it is awesome. You have a list of countries to pick with several servers within a specific country. The speed really depends on how busy is the server you selected. On NordVPN you can see what % of each server is being used. They also have a great app with a “quick connect” option that connects directly with your favorite server. I highly recommend it.

    • There are many great VPN services (in the link in the post, it gives many of them) and I have really only used one so didn’t want to comment on the quality of all the others. The one I use is HMA and I have found it to be quite good. It allows you to select the country and then, if multiple servers exist in that country, the city you would like to have it show you as being from.
      As far as internet speed, we get great speed on it and are even able to stream video with great quality.
      The best VPN services do have a fee so this would be something you would want to try with a trial period or get the cheapest one since you don’t need video speed. Another thing to consider is that if you are traveling out of the US, you may not be able to access sites like Southwest as well as many stores and maybe even have problems with banks. So, it can be quite useful to have an account with one.

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