Cheap Car Rental: Priceline vs Costco Travel vs Advantage

Beautiful Life

I have been accumulating miles and points for redeeming flights, not for car rental, because the redeem rate is not attractive.  I have been wondering, how to lower car rental cost for personal trip?  It would be nice if I do not need to spend more than $200 for a 7-days rental.  One thing for sure, is to reserve early.

Priceline car rental price is always good, but not necessarily the lowest and most convenient all the time.  Sometimes a digital coupon (for example, from used in a car rental website can offer even lower price.

We are certain about heading to Honolulu, Hawaii, next year with two other friends because of the Hilton Grand Vacation Hawaii promotion, but not solid about the dates yet.  With months ahead, car rental price is always good.  I can make a reservation of car rental now, with the flexibility to cancel or make changes later without penalty.  As soon as travel time is clear, it would make sense to do prepay promotional rate.

Suppose 2014 Spring break is the time for Honolulu, Hawaii about 8 days 7 nights (March 12, 2014 - March 19, 2014)

1. Reserve car rental from for the rental period, 3/12/2014 1:30 pm - 3/19/2014 1:00 pm

Non-bidding prices shown from
There is no cancellation fee.

2. Identify the website of the car rental company which offers the lowest price in

As of now we are interested in a compact-size car for 4 people.  The lowest price is offered by Thrifty.

3. Check for available digital coupons for car rental

In Thrifty car rental website, I tried several different coupons.  Probably there is not much promotion for Hawaii car rental. The only valid ones are about earning (not much) bonus miles.

The result car rental price from Thrifty website is the same. 

If it is much lower, then I would reserve this one, and cancel's.

4. (Optional) Check Costco Travel Auto Rental (Costco membership is required to pick up the car)

Costco Travel Auto Rental Cancellation Policy says there is no cancellation fee

The price is only $3 more.  I prefer Alamo car rental, so reserve this one and cancel Priceline's instead.

5. Submit bid in for car rental

$228 (before taxes and fees) / 7 day car rental = $32.57 per day

Priceline claims up to 40% cheaper. Therefore, my starting bid would be,

$32.57 * 0.60 = $19.5

Priceline suggests bid at least $27; total cost including fees and taxes will be near $235.  As soon as travel time is clear, I will submit a starting bid $23, and proceed from there.  Upcoming BlackFriday may have good coupon codes too.

6. (Optional) Compare price with Advantage car rental to identify a good starting bid price

During the last car rental at Albany, New York, Advantage caught my attention.  I am curious to see if Advantage has good offer this time.

  • They seems to have 10% promo code always available in
  • They offer 10% prepay discount

  • A quite long waiting time for their shuttle bus.

What stands out is that for Hawaii, their SUV rental is even cheaper than their compact-size rental and lowest in

Without applying the 10% coupon

After applying the 10% coupon

SUV final rental price for 8 days (7 full-days),  $330

Priceline SUV is 10% more expensive, before bidding

Shaving 10% off from Priceline bidding should be achieve-able.  I will check with Isa and my friends whether we want to pay more for driving SUV.  SUV should be more comfortable than a compact-size car, right?

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