If there’s something I’m obsessive about, it’s getting a rental car I want for the lowest price. Note, I didn’t say the lowest priced rental car, as that would mean I’d have to rent from companies that I don’t want to rent from. It’s a mantra of getting what I want for the least amount of money possible.
Achieving this task used to entail hours of searching through multiple websites and using various discount codes. I even wrote a whole article about the subject. I’ve come to the realization that I can mostly let the hard work go to Autoslash. They’re going to find me the best rate, or at least a rate good enough that the time spent to find a cheaper one just wouldn’t be worth the effort. On top of that, their customer service is fantastic.
So imagine my surprise when a car rental discount I didn’t know about showed up when I went to rent a car.
I was renting a car from Budget when this appeared:
Before I logged in, I clicked on the “Learn more” hyperlink.
While I was on the Budget website, the benefits of this offer seem to be identical to those found on the Avis website (which makes sense because they are both owned by the same company)
Looking more into the offers, I found the official terms:
Once you link your Amazon account to your Budget account, you’ll get a discounted rate “Up to 30%” off the base rate of the rental. You’ll also get an Amazon gift card worth 10% of the time and mileage charges (but not including the taxes and fees) after the rental. If you book using Alexa Skill, you’ll get 20% back.
So, I need to add in here that Sharon adamantly refuses to allow an Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant in our home (Note from Sharon: true story!). It’s bad enough when things we’re randomly talking about start showing up as banner ads on our computers but we’re not going to willingly have speakers in our house always listening to us. Sharon actually taunts the active listening devices when we visit friend’s houses with them by randomly making requests like “Alexa, play Polka music.” It’s amazing we still have friends (Note from Sharon: Yeah, especially after I asked her to play klezmer music).
So no 20% discount here.
I still was interested in the offer because saving 30% off a rental and getting an additional 10% back sounded like a good deal. Then I discovered the problem. Once I linked my Amazon account to my Budget account, I could no longer apply any other discount code to my rentals. I was locked into the Amazon rate.
When I checked prices against what I could find on Autoslash, the Amazon rate was higher. Much higher.
It took some work but eventually, I was able to unlink the accounts (I had to do it through my Amazon account). After clearing my cookies and reloading the page, the forced discount code was gone.
Turns out, I wasn’t the only one to discover the Amazon “discount” isn’t the lowest price out there. Autoslash did thir own research and found that they were able to find a much lower rate than the Amazon price even after including the 10% or 20% rebate.
To read the details of their pricing search, check out their blog post.
If there’s anything to learn from this, it’s always to be leery of offers that will save you “up to $$$.” They usually won’t save you that much. I don’t mind having to type in a code to get a discount but having to log in to your Amazon account from the Budget or Avis website should have been a big warning sign. Then having that be the only discount I could ever use unless I found how to unlink the accounts (which isn’t easy to do) is a huge downside for this offer.
While some might think this is a good deal, I implore you to check a price on Autoslash. You may have to book through Priceline but I’d place a small wager that Autoslash will find a lower price than the Avis/Budget/Amazon discount.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary