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Renting a Car by the Week Can Be Cheaper Than for the Days You Need It

Sometimes business class plane tickets are cheaper than economy class tickets, and sometimes weekly car rentals are cheaper than renting it for less the week.

Major events like an eclipse hunt or Labor Day weekend can send the cost of renting a car into overdrive **cough** driving up the price up stratospherically. But in extreme cases like this, booking a weekly car rental can be cheaper overall than renting a car for the days you actually need it.

(The rule of thumb we like to use is around $10 per day, or $100 per week as a great deal. But sometimes it will be double that, and that’s also normal. In general, a car rental that might cost $30-80 per day might be a lot cheaper to rent by the week.)

Here are several searches that we ran from Hertz’s Cambridge location over eclipse weekend, applying a bunch of corporate rates and coupons. In actuality, we only needed the car for five days: four for driving, one for errands and returning the car. Most daily rates were pushing $80+, even though we were nowhere close to any place within the eclipse’s path.

Depending on the length of time rented, daily rates ranged from $41 to $75. In fact the weekly rate yielded a daily rate 45.6% cheaper than the normal daily rate (sans weekly pricing).

Days Daily Rate Total Cost Savings
51 $75.50 $377.48
6 $49.45 $296.72 $80.76
7 $41.70 $291.87 $85.61

Like how it’s cheaper to rent out an apartment by the month versus by the day? Exactly like that.

In total, the weekly rental ended up being 22.7% overall cheaper and saved $85.67 over what it would have cost to rent for the days that we *did* need it.

The only thing to keep in mind is that some car rental agencies may exact an early return fee (sometimes, not always), but if the savings are so drastic, it may be worth it to eat the cost.

As to the price for seeing the eclipse and ignoring our blogging duties? Priceless.

1 footnote

  1. This was the actual number of days we needed the car for, so is used as the baseline for calculating estimated savings.





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