Ins and Outs of Airport Car Rentals
It’s 3am. You’ve spent the last nine hours on a cross-country flight from New York to L.A. You’re tired, you’re grumpy, and all you want to do is get to your hotel so you can finally get some sleep. Luck for you, the airport is full of convenient airport rental kiosks. These onsite rental locations are often a welcome sight for weary travelers, as they provide quick and efficient service right from the terminal.
But at what cost?
At a time when rental rates are climbing, travelers are discovering that it pays to rent offsite rather than jumping at the first airport location. Believe it or not, onsite airport car rental locations charge, on average, 25% more for the same rental as an offsite location.
So what gives? Car Rental Express digs a little deeper to uncover the secret of high airport car rental costs.
It’s Out of the Company’s Control
According to Robert Barton, president of the American Car Rental Association, local taxes and airport concession fees are to blame, not the rental companies. These fees, which are often passed onto the customer, cover the agency’s costs of renting airport facilities and of shuttle services to and from terminals and parking lots. Unfortunately, not all of these tax dollars are funneled back into airport improvements, as one would expect.
Just How Much Extra Are We Talking?
It really depends where you’re renting. In most cases, however, the difference is substantial – between 20% and 30%. Additional fees include a vehicle license fee, concession fees, airport fees, and local “tourism” taxes. And while you would think that these increased costs would put the airport car rental agencies at a competitive disadvantage, that isn’t always the case.
Remember – it’s 3am and you’re dying for some shut-eye. Most of the offsite rental agencies are closed at this hour. The only way to secure a rental immediately is to suck it up and pay the additional fees.
Airport Car Rentals Are All About Convenience
Many people still prefer to reserve their rental car at the airport because of the convenience factor. Sure, renting a car from a location that’s mile’s away from the airport may be more affordable, but if your flight leaves around rush hour and you don’t give yourself enough time to return the vehicle and make it to the airport in time, guess what – the plane isn’t waiting for you. What’s more, sometimes, after you factor in the cost of renting a cab from the airport to the offsite car rental dealership, the savings are pretty insignificant compared to the hassle you’ll have to go through.
Airports are All About Major Rental Agencies
Very rarely will you find an independent car rental company with an onsite airport car rental kiosk. They might be down the street, or around the corner, but very few can afford to set up shop right in the terminal. The price of operations is just too high. As such, major rental companies like Avis, National, and Hertz normally come standard at the airport.
Try and Talk Them Down
Car rental companies go to great lengths to make their customers happy. If you’re unsatisfied with the rental price offered by an airport car rental location, and can provide proof of a cheaper rate for a similar vehicle elsewhere, it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot. The agency may be willing to cut you some slack in order to keep you happy and encourage you to rent from them again.