By JACLYN SNOW
Have you ever felt that you paid too much for a rental car? Have you dreamed of taking a stunning road trip in an R.V. for less than a dollar a day? I’m here to give you the inside scoop about how to rent cars, trucks, R.V.s and camper vans for free or shockingly cheap!
How to Rent Vehicles for Cheap and FREE!
Free and Dirt-Cheap Rentals with Rental Car Relocation!
Rental car companies constantly have vehicles picked up in one city, driven a distance, and dropped off somewhere far away. Many rental companies will then offer for you to rent the vehicle one-way (to return it to the rental office) for free or incredibly cheap – I’ve seen listings from $1 a day to £1 for ten days. These are called rental car relocations, and they allow you to rent vehicles around the world from cars to camper vans.
Rental companies give you a specific number of days to drive from point A to point B, which is usually more than enough time to enjoy your road trip. Do your research on the miles from pick-up to drop-off locations, and check for mileage restrictions so that you know how far you can go from the planned route for scenic stops and detours. Be sure to have the rental car back by the agreed date, otherwise high penalties may apply.
Some companies offer perks such as free gasoline and upgrades, while others tack on transaction fees and offer expensive insurance policies. Be aware of any possible additional fees by a) researching the company’s customer reviews and b) reading the fine print before booking.
Before buying a rental company’s insurance, check whether your regular credit card, travel insurance, or at-home car insurance offers rental coverage. If one of your credit cards has coverage, use that card when you book!
Always inspect the vehicle and take pictures or video as evidence of it’s condition before you drive away with it.
Vehicles are usually posted two to three weeks before they need to be relocated. Incentives (i.e. gasoline, extra days or mileage) are often added if the vehicle must be moved sooner.
If the relocation deal you choose does not pay for gas, read my last article about ride sharing to cover fuel expenses. Even if fuel is provided, offering a rideshare is one way to help other travelers get a safe ride while simultaneously earning money on your travel.
Rental car relocations are one-way only. If you must return to where you began, and you don’t want to take another one-way rental back home or catch a ride share, you may utilize resources from my other articles to get a cheap flight or free flight, or take a train, bus or boat to find free/cheap travel on 6 continents.
Rental car relocations are available especially in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. There are fewer in Europe and Asia, but they are available sometimes. If you are unsure whether there are rental car relocations near you after searching through the links below, try searching “rental car relocation” + your departure city to see what comes up because many countries offer relocations through local websites.
Here are the most popular and reliable rental car relocation websites around the world:
🚐 iMoova seems to have to most relocation deals available worldwide. It operates in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
🚙 TransferCar also has a great deal of vehicles available. Here are links to their websites in Australia, New Zealand, the U.S. and Canada.
🚐 Europcar has rental car relocations available mostly in Europe and Australia, but sometimes in Asia too!
🚙 SpaceshipsRentals offers rental relocations in trendy camper vans for as low £1 as a day in the U.K.
Real Life Application: I plan to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco mid-April. My car is in poor condition for the long drive, and I don’t want to fly, bus, train, or catch a ride because I need a car in the Bay Area. Between iMoova and TransferCar there are (at the time of writing) ten vehicles available for the dates I need, some for a dollar a day and others cost one dollar for four days. Half of these offer fuel reimbursement up to $100. If I post my trip as a ride share, I can make $30 – $90 by driving passengers (all of the rentals available have 3+ seats). I will use that money to pay for my choice of transportation back to L.A. This will provide me with completely free transportation, both ways. This is an example of what I’m doing in California, but you can use this free-ride strategy in many countries around the world, as listed above.
If for some reason rental car relocation isn’t your speed, here are a few basic tips to:
Save Money on Rental Cars!
Here are my favorite websites for comparing and booking rental cars, and why I like them:
🚗 VroomVroomVroom is a great rental car search engine which offers free cancellation in case you find a cheaper way to travel or have a change of plans.
🚗 Hotwire offers great discounts on car rentals, but you won’t know which company you are booking with until you have paid, and there are no refunds.
🚗 Priceline lets you bid for the price you want to pay. Rental companies then have the opportunity to accept (or not). You will not know the company until you have paid, and there are no refunds. However, you can look at BiddingForTravel or BetterBidding before bidding to see which companies have accepted what bids in the past.
Search for coupons with rental car companies on RetailMeNot, RentalCarMama, and Groupon before you book!
It’s cheaper to refuse upgrades or pre-paid tanks of fuel, even though the agencies make it sound like a good deal.
As I said earlier, inspect the vehicle and take pictures or video as evidence of its condition before you drive away.
Before buying the agency’s insurance, check your regular credit card, normal (at-home) car insurance, and travel insurance to see if you already have rental coverage. If not, consider buying travel insurance which includes rental coverage. I prefer SquareMouth for comparing and purchasing travel insurance, and they have a whole page dedicated to rental insurance policies.
Until next time, may all of you intrepid wanderers out there enjoy happy, safe, and affordable travel!