How to Save Money on Car Rentals with AutoSlash
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There are often great deals to be found on rental cars, but these deals can be difficult to find. Plus, although there are many discounts available with various companies, going through all of the discounts you might be entitled to can be overwhelming. This is where AutoSlash comes in.
AutoSlash is a website that provides three main services, all for free:
AutoSlash differentiates itself from other car rental websites by considering coupons and discount codes for all the major rental companies as well as potential membership and credit card discounts. Note that AutoSlash has changed and evolved significantly since TPG first wrote an article on the service in 2011. In this article, I discuss how to utilize AutoSlash’s current services to save money on your next car rental.
AutoSlash considers coupons and discount codes for all the major rental companies as well as potential membership and credit card discounts. Many of the coupons are listed on AutoSlash’s coupon page — which I discuss below — but AutoSlash considers many more discounts from special codes as well as discounts related to having particular memberships, belonging to particular programs and holding particular types of credit cards.
When users get a new quote or track a current reservation through AutoSlash, they select which memberships they have and which credit cards they carry. Although car rental companies rarely ask for proof of these memberships and credit cards, they can and do — so only select memberships you actually have and credit cards you actually carry.
Some credit cards provide primary car rental insurance; these cards include the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred, United MileagePlus Explorer Card and Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card. TPG always recommends using a card that provides primary car rental insurance when renting a car, so it’s understandable that you might hesitate to tell AutoSlash that you carry an American Express card. However, AutoSlash says that in order to use a rate related to a particular credit card, the renter only needs to show the credit card — there’s no requirement to pay with that credit card. Likewise, renters can choose to credit their rental to any program regardless of whether they’re using a rate related to a particular frequent flyer or renter program.
One potentially concerning aspect: Renters usually won’t know which discounts AutoSlash used. Renters should only select memberships they have and credit cards they carry, so there shouldn’t be any issues. However, an AutoSlash representative said he can “count on one hand the number of times a customer has been challenged about a discount code.” He also said that AutoSlash is actively working on updating its systems so that users will know which discounts AutoSlash used.
How to Get a New Quote
If you’re looking to rent a car, AutoSlash is a good place to start. Go to AutoSlash and fill out the form to get a quote for a car rental. The first time I used AutoSlash, it took me less than two minutes to submit my request for a quote.
The first step is to choose whether to pick up your rental at an airport or near an address and input the airport or address. The next page asks whether you’d like to return the car at the same location — if not, input the return airport or address.
Next input the pick-up and drop-off dates and times.
Then select the vehicle type needed from a drop-down list. Note that you can select “Least expensive option” if you want to include all vehicle types in one search and simply get results for the cheapest rental.
For international markets, AutoSlash also includes a drop-down for choosing the transmission type: automatic or no preference.
Next, you need to check the box next to any memberships that you currently have, frequent flyer and rental programs you belong to and credit cards that you carry. As discussed above, you may need to prove membership or show a particular type of credit card, but you can still pay with any card and credit to any program.
Finally, AutoSlash asks for your name and email so that it can send you a quote.
After submitting the form, you can edit any information that you might’ve entered incorrectly. The quote isn’t available immediately due to the depth of AutoSlash’s search, but you’ll receive a quote in less than 30 minutes.
In all of my tests, I received a quote by email in 10-15 minutes.
Clicking on the link in the email takes the user to an online quote with a list of options.
In all of my tests, all the options linked to Priceline. However, an AutoSlash representative said sometimes AutoSlash links to other Online Travel Agents (OTAs) based on where the best prices are found. Be careful when selecting an option on an OTA’s website, as you’ll see multiple options. In particular, some of the options may not include free cancellation.
You’ll need to book quickly after getting the emailed quote if you want the quote to be accurate. Rental prices change frequently, so although old quotes will still link to a valid OTA search, they may not show the lowest prices. If you wait too long to act on the quote, it’s better to generate a new quote — or book a car with free cancellation and start a tracker.
Track a Current Reservation
After you’ve made a reservation with free cancellation — on your own or after getting a quote from AutoSlash and booking one of the suggested options — go to AutoSlash and fill out the form to track a rental for price drops. If you have your current reservation in front of you, know which memberships you have and know which credit cards you carry, filling out the form should take less than a minute.
The form for tracking price drops requires information about the booking, including: name, rental company, confirmation number, pick-up date and the price reserved as well as information about which memberships you hold and which credit cards you carry.
I received an AutoSlash tracking confirmation email immediately after submitting the form. About 15 minutes later I received an email saying AutoSlash had found a lower rate for my upcoming Avis rental.
I clicked on the link in the email and was taken to a page on AutoSlash with my discounted rate quote. The rate quote noted the company and savings for each option and provided links to book.
Beware that the links to book aren’t direct deep links, so you may need to scroll down to find the option you want. Note that some of the options listed may not allow free cancellation, so make sure to carefully read the terms before booking.
Also note that the options available on the OTA may be differently priced than the ones listed by AutoSlash due to a time lapse between the time the AutoSlash quote was created and the time you view your quote.
If you book a lower-priced option, make sure to (1) cancel your unneeded reservation, (2) cancel your current tracker and (3) go to AutoSlash and fill out the form track a rental for price drops for your new booking. Until you cancel your current tracker, AutoSlash will continue to send quotes when lower prices are found.
Longtime users of AutoSlash know that AutoSlash used to track and automatically rebook users when lower prices were found. Due to pushback from rental car companies, AutoSlash had to alter the process. Although AutoSlash requires more legwork from users now — users must make an original booking, set up an AutoSlash tracker and then rebook and retrack whenever lower rentals are found — AutoSlash also believes its algorithms for finding lower rentals have improved. In fact, an AutoSlash representative said that customers generally get as good of a deal or better than they did in the past as long as they’re diligent about tracking any new reservations.
If you need or prefer to book directly with car rental companies, AutoSlash may still be useful for you due to the car rental coupons page. These coupons are specific to particular car rental companies and can be applied when booking directly.
You can choose to just see the coupons related to a particular car rental company or you can sort the coupons by pick-up date, drop-off date, pick-up location and car rental company.
How Did AutoSlash Perform?
AutoSlash is clearly superior for tracking prices on current rental car reservations, as it’s much better than the alternative: doing it manually. However, to determine the quality of AutoSlash’s initial quotes, I did some quick experiments.
I looked for automatic transmission rental cars with free cancellation in a few cities on two different dates. I considered a pick-up date one week away (May 5) and two months away (June 28) for round-trip rentals in Los Angles (LAX), Bangor (BGR), Rome (FCO) and Johannesburg (JNB) as well as a one-way rental from LAX to Las Vegas (LAS).
For each city and rental dates, I compared AutoSlash’s quotes to a few competitors that I might use: an AARP rate booking directly with Avis and searching on Priceline on my own. Here are the results.
|LAX, in a week||$197||$228||$434|
|LAX, in two months||$262||$286||$435|
|BGR, in a week||$227||$378||$379|
|BGR, in two months||$293||$523||$486|
|FCO, in a week||$203||$179||$353|
|FCO, in two months||$203||$224||$353|
|JNB, in a week||$97||$126||$126|
|JNB, in two months||$97||$126||$126|
|LAX to LAS, in a week||$188||$210||$596|
|LAX to LAS, in two months||$321||$337||$809|
AutoSlash found the lowest car rentals for all but one of my tests. For the FCO rental in one week, AutoSlash failed to report the Mini car that was found by Priceline. However, this may be fair since my AutoSlash search had been for “economy car or higher” — which likely excluded Mini cars. Presumably AutoSlash’s “least expensive option” search would have found the Mini car.
After testing out AutoSlash for this article, I’ll certainly be using it for future car rentals since I have no loyalty when it comes to car rentals.
After going through the process of getting initial quotes, considering options from the quotes, booking, starting a tracker, rebooking and starting new trackers, I’d stress the following when using AutoSlash: (1) only select memberships you have and credit cards you carry, (2) book rental cars with free cancellation, (3) cancel unneeded reservations and (4) remember to cancel old trackers and start new trackers after rebooking. If you follow these tips, AutoSlash should help you find a lower priced car rental.
Photo by @esspeshal via Twenty20
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