The other day, I wrote about how my family spent the day walking through San Francisco. It was super fun, highly recommend, yada yada yada.
But here’s what happened when we got off the ferry and piled back into the car: the engine light clicked on. SIGH. Talk about bad timing: it was now 4:30 pm on a holiday. We were all tired from walking all day, my son had to pee, my daughter was sooooo thirsty, and Josh had to get home for a work call. (Did you ever see the Seinfeld episode where they are lost in the parking garage? It was kind of like that, only we weren’t lost. Just guaranteed not to get home for at least another hour).
Josh and I quickly pulled out our phones to do some triage. He called the car dealership while I found a rental car. We clearly were on borrowed time, so I did the best thing I could think of and searched on Priceline and Hotwire, ultimately finding a rate of $32 for a day. For convenience and timing, we were limited to two locations near the dealership – one Avis, one Hertz.
Fine. $32. Whatever. I booked with Hertz, we drove to the location, Josh rented the car, yada yada yada.
But I have to admit my stomach dropped a little when I logged into Josh’s Hertz account this morning and saw this:
Ugh…36 points?! Really? At this rate, it would take 16 rental days to earn a one free weekend day. Unacceptable.
Here’s what I could have done:
Normally, my strategy for renting a car is that I find the best rate I can through VroomVroomVroom, then enter this rate on Autoslash to see if they can beat it. Normally, they can….but it takes them a couple of weeks to find a better rate.
So, in cases like my situation today, when you just need an emergency car for a day or two, it could be worth your time to simply rent directly through the car rental site (even if it’s slightly more expensive…sometimes time is money), then apply a code manually to earn some extra points.
In my case, the rate I got on Hotwire and the rate I found directly on the Hertz site were exactly the same. (Probably because I was picking up the car within the hour!)
For these situations, here’s a site that I recommend bookmarking. It’s called Frequent Flyer Bonuses, and it is awesome. The site lists all of the current bonuses for all of the airline/hotel/car rental programs. The bonuses are categorized in an easy-to-read manner so you can quickly find exactly what will meet your needs. Here is a small snapshot (there is much, much more on the site):
Simply decide which points currency you’d like to earn, cross reference with the number of days that you will need, double check the date, and you’re good to go.
From the options above, I could have earned quadruple miles with Alaska Airlines. I missed out on 144 miles! Dangit.
Anyway, it’s something to have in your back pocket. Just in case.
What’s your strategy for last-minute rentals? Do you have any good tips to share?