By on June 30, 2009

The NYT dug through Abrams Consulting Group data on car rental prices, and it seems the cost of part-time wheels has gone up considerably in the last year. By how much?

In May, the average rate for a weekly airport rental of a compact car booked seven days in advance was $345.99, up a whopping 73 percent compared with $199.65 for the same month last year . . . In mid-June, weekly airport rental rates for a compact car averaged $347.44, compared with $210.38 a year ago.

Abrams Consulting blames falling demand, which has rental agencies cutting fleet sizes and jacking up prices. One example from the NYT piece is from Portland, Oregon, where personal experience proves that renting a car can be hilariously difficult. A recent attempt at renting a car mid-week here in Stumptown had me calling every rental agency in town before finally finding an available ride at the last agency on the list. One factor that the NYT piece doesn’t consider: falling residuals for the kind of fleet-queen Detroit iron that rental agencies used to cram onto lots. With resale bringing in less than it used to, it’s no wonder rental firms are trying to cut fleet size and bring up prices.

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16 Comments on “Rental Car Rates Soar...”


  • avatar
    fredtal

    Reduce choices and raise the price, yea that makes me to rent a car even more.

  • avatar
    kgriff1118

    And to make matters worse, you’re paying 73 percent more for probably the exact same car. The rental fleets are getting old with excess of 20,000 miles typical.

  • avatar
    Airhen

    Just recently I looked at renting a car from the Portland airport for a week and I was shocked at the price. It made me decide to wait on that vacation and drive my own car there instead.

  • avatar
    xyzzy

    fredtal: for most people renting a car is not discrentionary. If you’re on a business trip your employer will pay. If you need to rent a car because you’ve flown in, you need to rent a car.

  • avatar
    Loser

    Rental car business is just like the funeral business, they have a captive audience.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    Dunno about that guys.

    I went to san francisco for my anniversary at the beginning of june. My rental at SFO was $75 for 3 days unlimited miles. That _INCLUDED_ taxes.

    I booked an enterprise rental for mid june I ended up canceling, but my quote was $17/day for 3 days + taxes.

    How can you afford to drive your own car at those prices?

    The SFO trip we put on 300 miles in those 3 days.

    The trip we canceled was going to be about 2000 miles.

  • avatar

    I’ve had some rental cars that were past their “best if used by” date. A Camry with 60,000 miles, and a G6 with 45,000 miles. Both over a year old, and both had seen better days.

  • avatar
    tpandw

    All of these anecdotes are dangerous as real evidence, but having said that, here’s mine, which is worth no more or less than any of the others. A month ago I rented a car at the Portland airport for 5 days and total costs of $181.75, including the gas that I put in (or more accurately, it being Oregon, an attendant put in). The car was an 08 Ford Escape with 8000 miles on it and pretty well equipped. Two factors may have been at least partially responsible for what I thought was a reasonable price. First, I’m a member of National’s Emerald Club which gets you a slightly better rate (though the club is hardly exclusive–membership comes with many credit cards for instance), and second, I made the reservation a couple of months in advance.

  • avatar
    threeer

    I’ve also noticed the sharp increase in rental prices. I rented a new Malibu back in the early part of June (rented from Huntsville, AL) for three days…total was something like $80. Then I rented the same class (turned out to be a turd of a Mitsubishi Galant) in Colorado Springs for three days…total cost was $180! I’m thinking Colorado Springs knew they had a captive/needy customer base given that I came in the weekend for the induction of the class of 2013 into the Air Force Academy, and they could charge whatever they wanted. But still…I had to really stop and think if I wanted to rent a car for that much…for $180 I would have expected something much, much nicer than a 4-pot Galant!

  • avatar

    Airport rates are always a bit sketchy. Flying into DCA I usually take the metro to a suburban shop and rent a 328i for less than an airport Cobalt.

  • avatar
    goofyfoot

    Here in the Garden State we are lucky we get to support the government above & beyond the 7% sales tax with a $5/day “domestic security” fee. After 1 day I decided I’d rather be riding my bicycle until my car is fixed than be paying that.

  • avatar
    JMII

    The wife and I were about to go on a trip to upstate NY then we found out our rental car was going to cost MORE then the plane tickets (from FL) + hotel (4 nights) combined. Trip canceled.

  • avatar
    JonnyZX

    Rates are up because demand is down…? What world do these rental agencies live in, one where the basic laws of supply and demand don’t exist? It’s as if they’re run by the government….which I’m sure isn’t far off now.

  • avatar
    ohsnapback

    The rental car companies are in survival mode, like so many others.

    But I doubt adopting freaking price hikes like this is going to drum up much business as it’s likely not going to entice Americans to ‘get out there!’ this summer.

    It may just backfire and put some of them into BK, as they’re very close already.

  • avatar
    dastanley

    Car Max has a crap load of vehicles nationwide for sale that are prior rentals. I don’t know if that was always the case or because of this trend with the car rental companies.

  • avatar
    RedStapler

    For many years the D2.8 heavily subsidized rental fleets with slow selling models.

    Given that they had to pay the UAW members regardless if they were making cars or sitting in the jobs bank selling fleet queens at a loss was the lesser of two evils.

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