If you read anything about renting a car in 2021, it tends to include the caveat about how difficult it is to rent a car this year.
The reasoning makes sense – car rental companies were strapped for cash in 2020, with hardly anyone renting cars. So they sold off the older autos in their respective fleets earlier than usual and didn’t buy new cars (or at least not as many) to replace them. Even if they have more money now because more people have been renting cars in the past couple of months, it’s harder to buy cars because the factories were at a standstill for extended period of time due to COVID. And, of course, this is coming to a head as people are getting their COVID vaccines and are making plans to finally travel again this summer.
Anyway, Allianz Partners USA analyzed data from 236,000 rental car reservations made through car rental companies that offer Allianz Rental Car Damage Protector. They specifically used the data between Memorial Day and Labor Day, which is prime “summer vacation” time, to find the country’s top rental car hotspots.
The top ten cities for rental cars are (in this order):
- Orlando, FL
- Denver, CO
- Las Vegas, NV
- Honolulu, HI
- Kahului/Maui, HI
- Anchorage, AK
- Miami, FL
- Los Angeles, CA
- Seattle, WA
- Phoenix, AZ
It would make sense that the more popular a place is for rental cars, the harder it might be to rent a car there. That may be the case, or it may not. For example, you can rent a car at MCO (#1 on the list) tomorrow if you want…but it’s going to cost you $95 per day for a sub compact 😉 Same goes for Anchorage (#6), but there it’s $109/day. You can also rent a car in Seattle (#9) tomorrow but all they have left are Luxury SUVs for $350 per day (WOW!). All the other 7 sites have no availability.
So what’s a car renter to do?
First things first – if you know you’re going to want to rent a car sometime this summer, make your reservation ASAP! It unfortunately still doesn’t guarantee that a car will be there, waiting for you, when you arrive, because things happen. But you have a better chance of being able to get a reservation 2 or 3 months out than you will 2 or 3 weeks (or days!) out.
So let’s say you’re lucky enough to snag a rental car reservation. Heads up: expect to pay more than you ever have before. After all, car rental companies are still trying to recoup from last year. Plus, let’s face it, supply and demand are very much playing a role in prices. But you have your arsenal of ways to look for better prices (if you don’t, check out our How To Get A Cheap Rental Car post), and even a couple of super special ones that others might not have (that’s how Joe managed to find a rental car for $100 less than Autoslash’s price) . So hopefully you’ll do OK on pricing.
Assuming you are arriving at an airport and want to rent a car there, you may want to look at local places in the same city, if the airport location doesn’t have any cars available. Heads up that these secondary Enterprise, Avis, etc. outlets will be smaller (read: less cars) and won’t have the same (generally more extended) hours as those which are on-site at airports. but if the timing works for you, it may be worth looking into and taking a taxi/ride share/public transportation to get to the rental location.
Whatever means you use to try to rent a car this summer, may the odds forever be in your favor!
Feature Photo: Angelo DeSantis / Wikimedia
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary