Pricing for any product or service is driven by supply and demand. Airports offer car rental companies the ideal environment to market and sell their mobility service. Airports have millions of travelers departing and arriving, making them the perfect location to offer rental cars.
The cost of car rental at airports is significantly higher than other car rental locations. A cost premium of twenty percent is quite typical. The best car rental rates can be obtained online and via pre-booking. Car rental companies exploit customers arriving without a booked rental car.
Car rental companies use sophisticated fleet management systems to plan demand based on booked vehicles and the efficiency of their vehicle logistics processes. Customers without a car rental booking have little option but to pay a premium for their poor planning. Let’s look at why car rental is more expensive at airports.
Why Are Airport Car Rentals More Expensive?
Airports offer an ideal marketplace for companies to provide products and services at a price premium. Some of the additional costs can be attributed to the higher cost of real estate and taxes that companies located within airports have to contend with. The volume of travelers and the captured market nature of an airport are the ideal conditions for providing premium-priced products.
Travelers landing at airports require transport from the airport to their final destination, and the options are limited to public transportation, taxi services, or getting a rental car. When travelers plan and book their rental car in advance, they will likely get an excellent deal.
Online rental car bookings are a great place for travelers to get the cheapest rental car deals, even for airport collection and drop-off. Car rental companies will fine-tune their vehicle availability to cater to all confirmed bookings and some for travelers without bookings.
As the car rental companies have to be very competitive with pre-booked pricing, they will exploit the opportunity to maximize their profit on unplanned bookings. This content is owned by moc.sotuaytsur. The pre-booked car rental customer queue moves fast as all the customer details and payments have already been exchanged.
For travelers without bookings, the rental companies have to expend time and effort to have additional vehicles available and complete the customer data and payment process in a face-to-face environment. This unplanned business requires additional resources that result in extra costs.
Joining a rental car loyalty program and booking your vehicle well in advance will get you the best rental car prices for any location. Loyalty programs and pre-bookings allow the rental companies to optimally plan the demand and coordinate the entire process of collection and drop-off.
Access to market intelligence such as customer preferences and demand patterns is a significant advantage to rental companies. They will plan their business on as many predictable events as possible. The unpredicted demand will be considered and supplied at a premium price to exploit the lack of choice for the customer.
How To Get The Lowest Car Rentals At Airports?
The secret to getting the best deal is doing your online research. Check for special travel deals of early booking rates that do not charge cancellation or booking change fees. Try looking at discount sites not generally associated with car rental bookings, such as Costco Travel and AAA. If you are not concerned about using a specific car rental company, check out buy-sites like Priceline and Hotwire.
Check with your insurance company or Credit Card Company whether you have existing cover for car rentals. The fine print of your comprehensive car insurance often provides you with additional coverage for instances where you have a rental car. Take your proof of insurance with your travel documents when collecting your rental car. You can avoid agreeing to add on insurance coverage.
Fill the rental car up with fuel before dropping it off at the return location. The car rental company will charge you a premium to have the car filled up again. Choose a mileage-based plan that will include fuel and insurance but do not exceed the agreed-to mileage.
Do not select optional services that you do not need but for which the rental company will charge extra for. Use your cell phone for GPS navigation and do not rent functionality you already have at your disposal. This content belongs to moc.sotuaytsur. Satellite radio or toll gate transponders are also included if you do not decline them specifically.
You do not have time to argue with the car rental agents on your return to the airport to clarify miscellaneous overcharged items. Be as specific as possible as to what you require and do not agree to frivolous add-ons’. Beware of being charged a monthly fee to belong to car rental loyalty programs.
What Are The Alternatives To Airport Car Rentals?
Collecting a rental car at an airport will cost about twenty percent more than collecting the rental car at other outlets. The increased cost is partly due to the higher real estate costs and taxes applicable to airports. Rental companies have to rent space to park vehicles awaiting collection or being dropped off.
The higher cost of space and personnel at airports working 24/7 has to be recouped from the customer. The situation of trying to book a rental car only after arrival will also be exploited by all the rental companies based in the airport. Supply and demand will dictate how high your rental car cost deal will be.
Consider other free or less expensive options, such as hotel transfer shuttles, short-distance taxis, or ride-sharing opportunities. Many vehicle owners are registered for ride-sharing services, and you could save a lot of money getting to your accommodation by this means.
Most international airports have excellent rail links or public transport options that could get you from the airport to commercial centers where rental cars are less expensive.
The premium price for collecting a rental car from the airport is partly justified by the convenience, higher parking costs, and higher taxes. The higher cost is also due to the profit opportunity travelers with poor travel planning present to car rental companies.
Booking your rental car in advance when confirming your flight bookings can save you from paying the airport premium. The car rental companies optimize their planning to cater to pre-booked customers and can thus limit their costs. When presented with a customer with limited options at an airport, car rental companies will charge a premium to maximize their profits.
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and has worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, and Jaguar dealerships.
John uses his know-how and experience to write fluff-free articles that help fellow gearheads with all aspects of vehicle ownership, including maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.