When you’re on the road making sales calls or taking clients out to eat, a nice rental car makes a great impression and also adds joy to your driving experience. Here are a few tips to get the most car for your dollar.


  1. Build your loyalty
    Join a car rental membership program. Members can by-pass the check-in lines heading directly to their cars with the engine running and air conditioner cooling or heater heating, depending on weather conditions. You also can check your car back in electronically and proceed directly to your airport gate. This will save you valuable time.
  2. Book directly
    This gives you the best rates and provides the opportunity to ask for an upgrade. If one is not available at time of booking ask the agent to notate your record for an upgrade. When checking-in tell the desk agent that you requested an upgrade, often when they see the notation in your record they’ll comply.
  3. Check the rates
    A little know secret in the car rental industry is that the price difference from a sub-compact to a full-size is a few dollars per day. First inquire about the price of the sub-compact than ask what the price of the full size is—you’ll often be surprised.
  4. Reserve a popular car
    When making your reservation inquire what cars are the most popular at the specific rental location. It is more likely that these cars will be sold out and you’ll be upgraded to a larger size car.
  5. Know the game
    Often when a rental location is sold out of your car type they’ll try to have you upgrade for a nominal fee ($5 per day). If this happens to you ask them if cars are still available in your class type. If not tell them you want the upgrade for no-charge.
  6. Accept the best
    If you reserve a non-smoking car and your car reeks of cigarette smoke ask for an upgrade. Likewise if your car is old and dingy request a newer upgraded car.
  7. Ask and you shall receive
    The simplest technique for a rental upgrade is simply to ask in a nice polite manner. Often if the rental agent sees you as a nice person they’ll upgrade you for no-charge.



Joel Widzer Psy.D., is an expert on consumer loyalty and frequent flier programs. He is the author of The Penny Pincher’s Passport to Luxury Travel and a contributor to MSNBC. His consulting firm www.jetready.com advises travelers and businesses on a range of issues from maximizing their travel programs to managing travel fatigue. He can be reached at 714-544-2855.