Tis the season to get ready to buy tickets, book the car and see the family.
Cam writes in asking:
Recently, I was booking a car rental only to notice that Hertz wanted me to pay for the total car rental upfront (pay now). What’s up with that? Do I have no other choice?
No, you are not obligated to pay the prepaid rate, just like you are not obligated to pay extra for a seat if there are no free seats left on the plane. For shame.
Displaying prepaid-only rates is a relatively new phenom that even we didn’t notice until the last couple of weeks. In a recent booking (while we were testing out different promo codes), we noticed that Hertz was also displaying certain prices differently.
Most noticeably, this screen happened. Blink and you’ll miss the small sentence in the upper-left hand corner that says “I’d prefer to pay the counter, please quote a non-prepaid rate.”
If you click on it, it’ll take you to the normal rate.
There’s no side by side rates anymore, making it hard to compare. Sheisty.
So this is price difference for a compact car rental:
Prepaid Rate: $130.28
Pay at the Counter Rate: $155.10
That’s a difference of $24.82.
But even with those savings, it’s almost never worth it to book a car prepaid, unless it’s pretty close to the time of the car rental (like the night before). That’s because car rental prices drop and fluctuate all the time, and there’s no penalty for cancelling a reservation. And in our experience, it does drop below prepaid rates more than enough times to justify the extra hassle of tracking it.
By the way, Hertz’s current policy is a free cancellation if its made within seven days of booking, $60 if you change your mind a week out from the booking. And I think the flexibility is worth $24.82.
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