Last year my family went to Arizona and New Mexico. We flew into Phoenix and flew out of Albuquerque. We rented a car for the duration of the trip, ten days. When I started researching rental cars I was alarmed at the price we were going to have to pay. Renting at the airport was going to cost us over $1200. I thought this was a little excessive, so I started looking into better options.
First, I discovered that the Phoenix airport has one of the highest rental car taxes in the country. Second, it was more expensive to pick the car up in Phoenix and drop it off in Albuquerque than it was to pick up in Albuquerque and drop off in Phoenix. I believe this is because there is a higher demand for cars in Phoenix than Albuquerque.
I began to wonder if I could get a rental car cheaper. I could have reversed the order of our trip but since we were heading out West in the early spring I wanted to be in the potentially warmer areas first than the potentially colder areas….I was worried about snow. So I did not want to switch our itinerary around.
I then started to investigate off airport rental car locations in Phoenix. This would have been easier if we had landed on a week day between the hours of 9 to 5. Most off airport rental car agencies are open then. But because we were landing on a Saturday night I had a little more of a challenge since nothing was open when we landed. However, I managed to find a rental agency that opened at noon on Sundays. The cost to rent a car from this location? Less than $700 (I can’t remember the exact price). That was a savings of over $500 for a minor inconvenience. Could we make it work?
We knew that we were just going to spend the night at an airport hotel that first night. But the off airport location did not open until noon the next day. Noon was not a problem for us because my Dutch friend, Angie, was joining us on our trip and would not be arriving until after 1 PM, so we had time to kill before she arrived. I discovered that Phoenix has a light rail system that went downtown. This was perfect for us. Sunday morning we hopped on the light rail and headed to the Phoenix science center for a few hours until we could pick up the rental car. It also gave us the opportunity to get a glimpse of Phoenix. Additionally, I discovered the rental car location was accessible by the light rail system. While I had no problem taking a $20 taxi ride to get there now I was able to get there spending less than $5.
The moral of the story is to think outside the box when it comes to rental cars. For a minor inconvenience I saved over $500. In my next blog entry I will write about another way to save money with car rentals.