/ AutoLook How-to

How to get Rental Cars up to 81% cheaper

Many of us don't know, that the prices for rental cars are changing quite often. Even if we know that, we just don't have the time to look the prices up every day. So how can you save money on your rental car, without checking the prices all the time? By using AutoLook! With several real world use cases, we are going to show you how much money it can save for you.[1]

AutoLook is a free web-service, which automatically checks the prices for rental cars 24/7 and notifies you, when it has found low price rental car deals. People ask us "why should I use AutoLook? How much can the prices possibly change?". And our answer is always "quite a lot".

But there are so many things that play a role in how much money you can save: when, where, how long and how long in advance you want to reserve a rental car? It also matters what vehicle category you choose and how far you are willing to go/drive to get to your rental car.

So let us take a look at some use cases. The first one also matches the title of this blog post. The remaining three use cases each differ in their own way, but have resulted in a great benefit for our users.

Use Case 1: Rental Car 81% cheaper

On 5th of May 2017, one of our users searched for a rental car at the San Diego International Airport. He wanted the car on the 10th of July 2017 and give it back four days later at the same airport. As you can see in the chart, there have been about 2 months between his search request on the AutoLook website and the pick up date, so there was quite some time for our software to search for better rental car deals.

The initial price for the most affordable rental car at and 30 miles around the San Diego Airport was close to 167 USD. But about 10 days later, we have been able to find a rental car with a price of around 128 USD, i.e. more than 23% cheaper than the initial price. That price was available for about 3 days, before it went up to 148 USD for a few days and down again to 134 USD for more than 2 weeks. After that time, the rental car became about 4 USD more expensive for around 10 days.

Then something interesting happened: The price for the cheapest rental car has fallen for about one week and reached its lowest value on the 1st of July 2017 with only 30.41 USD, i.e. more than 81% cheaper than the cheapest rental car we could find on the first day ?. That is quite astonishing, even for us ?. That deal was offered only for 2 days by HolidayCars and has been a Kia Rio, a good looking economy car:[2]


After these 2 days, the price jumped up quite fast, up to 188 USD, its all time high. So what does that mean?

You can get rental car deals with AutoLook, which are more than 80% cheaper. But you need to search several weeks in advance and book quickly, after we send you an email, because great offers are only available for a short period of time.

Of course, finding such a great discount will not happen with every rental car, nonetheless this example shows, that it is possible. Even a price discount of 50% is a very good result.

But getting an 81% cheaper rental car is like walking through a forest and finding a unicorn, which is sipping at a shiny fountain, taking a selfie with it and posting it on social media. Okay, maybe the probability of finding such a great deal is higher than that. ?

Feel free to test it for yourself. Just click here and try it out.

Otherwise, keep on reading for more interesting use cases.

Use Case 2: Rental Car more than 58% cheaper

On the 7th of July 2017, another of our users searched for a rental car at the San Francisco International Airport. He wanted the car on the 24th of August 2017 for one week and drop it off at the airport again. And once more, there has been almost 2 months between his search request on our website and the pick up date.

At the beginning, we could only find a rental car for around 217 USD, but right after one day, we have been able to find a better rental car deal for 188 USD, ie. saving him more than 13% on his rental car. As you can see that price did not change for almost a month. Then it started to move for more than one week, before it has reached a value of 90.59 USD. That deal was offered by Car Rental 8 and has been a Nissan Versa:[3]

Nissan Versa

After one day, a slightly better deal was offered again by Car Rental 8 with the lowest price we have found for this search request to date. 90.25 USD for a Toyota Yaris:

Toyota Yaris

Both cars have been not directly at the airport, but 4.5 miles outside SFO at 323 South Canal Street. When the price is worth it, many people use a Taxi, Uber, Lyft or any other short term transportation service to get to their rental car.

So both offers have been quite similar. In total, we have been able to find a rental car deal almost 60% cheaper than the cheapest rental car we could find on the first day. That is a pretty good result. ?

Use Case 3: Rental Car more than 326 USD cheaper

This use case shows the prices for Tampa International Airport in the US. One of our users searched on the 2nd of June 2017 for an intermediate/standard rental car, which he wanted to pick up on the 12th of July 2017 and bring it back 2 weeks later.

I have chosen this use case, not because it has saved one of your users more than 40% on his rental car, i.e. he saved more than 326 USD ? (which is pretty good). I have chosen it, because it shows that you should not expect the rental car prices going down the closer you get to the pick up date. Here, we have found the lowest price almost 3 weeks before the user wanted to get his car.

In addition, The prices moved up and down quite often between the 3rd of July and the 2nd of August 2017. During that time period, we let our user know about the great rental car deals by sending him email-notifications in two of the price valleys, i.e. 12th/13th and 24th/25th of July.

For the lowest price of around 452 USD, our user got a Toyota Corolla offered by Expedia and the pick up address was directly at the airport:[4]

Toyota Corolla

Use Case 4: Rental Car more than 47% cheaper

I think it was early May 2017, when I told a travel blogger from Canada, who I personally know, about AutoLook and that it can save her a lot of money, while she is traveling and needs a rental car. Several weeks later, on the 25th of May 2017, she has written me that she needs a rental car in Düsseldorf. She wanted to pick it up on 6th of June and bring it back four days later. Any car would have been fine for her, as long as it has an automatic transmission.

In Germany automatic transmissions are not as popular as in Canada, the US or Japan. Only 20% of new cars in Germany have an automatic transmission[5]. Given that the supply of these cars is lower in this country, I expected that we wouldn't be able to find a rental car with a much lower price tag. We already had several search queries for Düsseldorf in the past, also for cars only with automatic transmission. Based on previous data, I guessed that we might be able to get the price down by 15-20 EUR, but not more. So I told her "Please don't have high expectations" in that case.

After dampening her and my own expectations, she started to use our website to see what kind of rental car deals we can find for her. With our initial search, we have found a rental car, which has been around 6 EUR cheaper than the rental car she has found before coming to us.

Directly after one day, we have found a rental car with a price of 126.88 EUR, i.e. more than 16 EUR cheaper. I thought "that's it". Based on the previous queries for the same city and cars with automatic transmission, it would be unlikely to find a more affordable rental car. She reserved that car, which fortunately came with a free cancellation option, and we let the software do its work 24/7 without me looking over it.

On 5th of June 2017, it just came to my mind that she is about to pick up her rental car. From the pool of all the other requests, I fished out hers (by matching it with her email address) and checked what results our software has found so far. It turned out that it has found a rental car offer with a price of only 76.15 EUR, i.e. almost 70 EUR, 50% cheaper than the initial 145 EUR. I thought "Wow ?! Much better than what I expected!".

I contacted her. She told me, that she got an email from our software and she directly reserved the new rental car and canceled her reservation for the previous one. She has been as surprised as I was. In the end, it worked out pretty well and she got an Opel Astra at Düsseldorf Airport offered by HolidayCars:[6]


The difference between this case and all the previous ones, is the following:

  • The previous use cases only covered the US, whereas our system actually works worldwide in pretty much every country and supports more than 150 currencies. I thought it would be a good idea to give a least one example of that.

  • In this case, we have been able to find an offer in a short period of time, which has been almost 50% cheaper. In the previous use cases we actually needed more time. But as you can see great results are also possible in less time. Who knows, maybe we would have been able to find a better deal, if we had more time. But a 50% cheaper rental car is also not too shabby.


So what should you take away from this blog post?

  1. Tracking rental car prices and booking a car at the right time can really save you a lot of money!
  2. Sometimes the prices don't move for weeks, before they change and suddenly drop. When that happens, you have to be quick, because these extremely low prices are not lasting for a long time.
  3. One might think, that rental car are more expensive at airports, but it can be the opposite and you can get the cheapest rental cars there. A reason for that is probably, that there is a higher competition at airports and each rental car company is trying to undercut their competitors.
  4. These price changes are not only happening in the US. I have only given one example outside the US, but there are so many more. In the future, I might write at least one blog post for each of the major countries using our website. So you can get a sense of its scale and usefulness.

Upcoming Features

Our software already delivers really good results, but that is not the end of what is possible! One more obvious way to reduce the price, is by providing coupons / promo codes for each result, when this is available. Yes, it is possible to get a rental car, which costs less than 81% of its original price.

But there are also several not so obvious ways, which we have discovered by analyzing our data. Actually they could save much more money than coupons and promo codes. We are going to explore and integrate them in AutoLook and let you know, when they are ready. Some of them are technically challenging, but still possible.

⭐️ So stay tuned and drive safe! ⭐️

Share this article with anybody, who wouldn't believe that they can get their rental cars up to 81% cheaper:

  1. Main article photo by Pixabay @ pexels ↩︎

  2. Kia Rio photo by Overlaet (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons ↩︎

  3. Nissan Versa photo by Mr.choppers (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons ↩︎

  4. Toyota Corolla photo by Mytho88 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons ↩︎

  5. Based on the DAT-Report 2014. ↩︎

  6. Opel Astra photo by OSX (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons ↩︎

Saied Tehrani

Saied Tehrani

Interested in rental cars, authoring code for various environments & purposes. Love biking, gym and games. M.Sc. in CS / AI. But in the end, you learn more by applying it in the real world.

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