How to get a better rate as prices skyrocket

Renting a car for your next vacation? Be prepared for a shock as the prices are weird. Hobart and Budget airport pickup will charge you $1552 for a Suzuki Swift automatic or similar for a two week rental in September.

In Cairns, same operator, same dates, a Kia Cerato will cost you $2,446, but only if you pay now. Are you going offshore? A Toyota Yaris for the same dates in mid-September from Budget to Rome Fiumicino airport will cost €1816 ($2647), but you can hire a Citroën C3 automatic for the same period from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport and Budget will only charge you €555 ($809).

When their business collapsed during the pandemic, car rental companies reduced their fleets. Now that travel is back they are looking to restock but some are struggling. Supply chain disruptions mean new vehicles are in short supply, car rental operators are forced to pay higher prices and, in a booming rental market, these operators are charging higher prices – but not everywhere. Supply and demand determine the price you pay, and since they are different in different markets, the prices are wildly divergent.

For the customer, the rules are always the same. Book as early as possible, prices will only increase over time.

It’s worth starting your search by looking at a car rental comparison site such as Rentalcars.com. When you find what you’re looking for, check the car rental operator’s website and see if their offer is the same. If you pay when booking rather than at the check-in counter, you might pay less. If you’re hiring overseas, compare the local price with what’s on offer in Australia. It is quite easy to find the French version of Avis for example and compare the vehicle you have chosen with the price of the same vehicle on the Australian site of Avis, and it will not be the same. Remember to take your physical license as most car rental operators will not accept a digital version on your phone.

michael.gebicki@traveller.com.au

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