AutoSlash was one of the real innovations in travel a couple of years back, and one of the few real innovations in the rental car space.

There were two basic pieces to the model:

  1. They would automatically test and apply coupons and discount codes to get you the lowest rate on your vehicle at booking
  2. They would keep searching after you booked your car in order to find you better prices. Rental car prices change all the time, especially as time passes and the rental date nears, if rental companies have unbooked inventory

The biggest savings came from this second technique. Most people make car reservations and then leave things alone, but prices do drop, often significantly. I’ve seen folks report saving several hundred dollars on longer rentals, and reducing prices by more than half.

It’s the first technique, though, that really angered the rental companies the most. AutoSlash sometimes had marginally better prices than other booking sites because it tested out different coupons and discounts. And there were occasionally controversies over whether a given discount was open to everyone even if it was targeted towards a specific audience.

Angering the rental companies meant that they forbade AutoSlash from displaying those companies inventory. Which meant that AutoSlash was no longer useful for making a rental car booking.

Back in April Hertz, Thrifty, and Dollar prohibited AutoSlash from displaying their cars during initial booking. Avis had already done so.

As a result, here’s the only options I get when trying to make an initial reservation at AutoSlash for pickup at Chicago O’Hare.

But despite only offering two rental agencies for the search above, this Milepoint discussion makes clear that AutoSlash remains just as useful a tool as ever!

Remember that the real savings comes from searching for better pricing and rebooking. AutoSlash still does that.

You can make your car booking elsewhere and then go to the AutoSlash website, enter your name, confirmation number, pickup date and email address. They will automatically track your reservation and let you know if and when they find you something better.

They can’t offer initial search, but they can do rebookings. The service is free to you, they make their money on commissions for the bookings they do when they can lower your price.

And these are still conventional bookings, meaning that you still earning miles from your rentals. For instance I claim 1000 Virgin Atlantic miles per 1-day rental at Avis and 3000 US Airways miles per 3-day Avis rental as well.

I didn’t used to like to make my initial bookings with AutoSlash anyway since I prefer to go through a cash back or mileage portal. You can usually get around 3% cash back or 3 points per dollar in various programs for the cars you’re renting anyway. Having AutoSlash rebook you will negate that rebate, but I’m happy to give it up automate bigger savings (you could of course automate tracking of lower prices, then rebook yourself through a rebate portal to get the lower price and the rebate).

There are other techniques for reducing the price of a rental of course, but I really like the ease of making a reservation and then letting AutoSlash take over.

  • Hotwire. I don’t like prepaid rentals but if the savings are big enough they can be justified. You don’t know which of the major rental companies you’re going to get. They show you the price up front so you can compare to what’s otherwise available, I’ve seen savings greater than 50% at times but other times it’s not meaningfully better than booking direct. Since rentals are prepaid you can’t drop price later and prepaid Hotwire rentals may not offer the same additional insurance coverage through a credit card that renting direct does. (Priceline has a similar prepaid model, and can be a couple bucks cheaper, they don’t display the price up front — you might try searching Hotwire and then bidding about 10% lower at Priceline.)

  • Avoid the airport. You can often get lower rates off-airport, especially during the week, because rental companies price discriminate — business travelers need cars and will pay more for them being on a corporate dime. If you can get off airport you can save. Plus airport rentals are often loaded up with taxes, sometimes adding as much as 50% to the cost of the rental. For a longer rental you can rent at the airport on day 1 and then return the car to an off-airport location, swapping cars for the rest of the trip — combining the convenience of the initial airport rental with lower rates and taxes for subsequent days.

  • Tweak the pickup and return times even by a half hour or an hour. Sometimes rental rates will vary.

Bottom line is there are a few things you can do to reduce the price of a rental. Making your initial car reservation with AutoSlash was only ever of marginal benefit. Tracking the reservations you’ve already made with AutoSlash, on the other hand, is a big deal and still as available as ever.

  1. Jimmy said,

    Gary, I used autoslash yesterday 5 days in OGG and this is the rate I got.Can I trust it?
    Your 4 Days, 23 hours Rental
    Skip navigation to car results
    Kahului (OGG)
    Pick-up: 04:00PM, Sat, Apr 20, 2013 – Drop-off: 03:00PM, Thu, Apr 25, 2013
    All cars | air conditioning | automatic transmission
    Change your search
    All rates are in US Dollars.
    Help with this page
    Select a rental car by clicking a price below.
    Did you know that the prices shown here are the published rates? AutoSlash automatically works to lower your rate after booking. Click here to learn how much you can save.
    Refine your search
    1 results
    Car Type
    Economy Details

    Sort by Economy price
    Compact Details

    Sort by Compact price
    Intermediate Details

    Sort by Intermediate price
    Standard Details

    Sort by Standard price
    Full Size Details

    Sort by Full Size price
    Premium Details

    Sort by Premium price
    Van Details

    Sort by Van price
    Convertible Details

    Sort by Convertible price
    SUV Details

    Sort by SUV price
    Car TypeADVANTAGE Car Rental
    Column Number 1
    Vendor Details

    ADVANTAGE Car Details
    Shuttle
    Car Extras

    ECONOMY Select car for $49 / Wk
    TotalPrice
    $68.07
    COMPACT Select car for $49 / Wk
    TotalPrice
    $68.07
    INTERMEDIATE Select car for $59 / Wk
    TotalPrice
    $78.49
    STANDARD Select car for $65 / Wk
    TotalPrice
    $84.74
    FULLSIZE Select car for $67 / Wk
    TotalPrice
    $87.13
    PREMIUM Select car for $355 / Wk
    TotalPrice
    $387.03
    VAN Select car for $87 / Wk
    TotalPrice
    $107.66
    CONVERTIBLE Select car for $67 / Wk
    TotalPrice
    $86.82
    SUV Select car for $78 / Wk

    47.00 per week with taxes 68.00 all in?

  2. Gary said,

    It’s booked through the regular distribution systems, a private branding of travelocity i think, so there’s no real difference booking with autoslash vs elsewhere

  3. Miles said,

    This is excellent information! I quit using Autoslash when they quit showing most of the auto rental companies, not realizing that they could still save me money by automatically re-booking reservations that I have made to the omitted companies.

  4. dhammer53 said,

    I’m one of those milepoint posters that have used AutoSlash numerous times to save big bucks. I love when they send e mails advising me that my price has come down.
    In spite of the limited car rental operators shown, I’ve gotten a major brand in a major city on a re-price e mail! Kudos to those guys.

  5. Rapid Travel Chai said,

    Eventually I need to stick through the whole AutoSlash process, even when they were comparing more providers I would see prices around double what I get on Capital One or Costco and just book those.

  6. Anand said,

    Gary,

    I am new to this…so how do you get so many miles per 1 day bookings? I have a trip coming up for which I have already made reservations via Avis. I doubt I can get better price, but want to see if I can still get mileage added on?

  7. Gary said,

    @Rapid Travel Chai – book your Costco rental and then let autoslash track it and see if the price drops

  8. Gary said,

    @Anand I use Virgin Atlantic for one-day Avis rentals, 1000 miles per rental even when just 1 day

  9. Lisa said,

    What’s your favorite portal for initial booking? I have Cap1 and CSP Visas, trying to figure out the best options.

  10. travelbloggerbuzz said,

    I have had good experiences with carrentalsavers.com so I usually check them out too. I usually start out at Orbitz.com to see general offers, then check out the Priceline/Hotwire previous bidding sites, may try out a Hotwire bid to see what I get, then check out National with some coupons, carrentalsavers and then…just go for it. Now I need to remember to add the non prepaid reservation to Autoslash which I must admit I had stopped using after the big rental car companies pulled out. Is the current business model viable for Autoslash??

  11. tivoboy said,

    Yeah, when the direct booking went away it became a bit of a pain, but the tracking still works quite well. I had a rental in PBI for xmas, rates even with discounts I found were like 800$ a week!! about two weeks later, I start getting a flood of new options (there WAS a short term car rental sale going on but I wasn’t watching for it) and in the end got a bigger car for 300$ a week all in during Christmas!

    My current method is to use Zalyn.com, they track all the codes and rates and will send you straight to the auto companies to book. Then, once you get the rate/car you want or is acceptable, then take that booking at set it to track at autoslash. The tracking is the key value here.

    It’s a bit more cumbersome than it was in the past of course, but the end result is the same. One site shows all the coupons and best rates, the second site does the tracking

  12. Dale said,

    Gary, Does this site track european resv using Hertz or Avis?

  13. Oh I think I am going to regret this so much! - Delta Points said,

    [...] other day, my fellow BoardingArea.com blogger Gary from View from the Wing had a post about AutoSlash. I do not rent many cars very much and just don’t think I will use the service he talked [...]

  14. Dave said,

    I am lazy and like Hertz Gold where I bypass the counter. Can Autoslash be limited to a vendor or vendors on its re-book? We have a family trip booked 6 months out that could potentially be targetted.

  15. Dave said,

    Nevermind, I understand now, its a notification and I can re-book or not. I guess I’ll see if they limit to Hertz and or of the savings entice.

  16. Add A Comment

home | top

View from the Wing is a project of Miles and Points Consulting, LLC. This site is for entertainment purpose only. The owner of this site is not an investment advisor, financial planner, nor legal or tax professional and articles here are of an opinion and general nature and should not be relied upon for individual circumstances.

Advertiser Disclosure: Many (but not all) of the credit card offers on the site are from banks from which we receive compensation if you are approved. Compensation does not impact the placement of cards other than in banner advertising (we do not currently control the banner advertising on this blog). We don’t include all US credit card offers available on this site. Instead, I write primarily about cards which earn airline miles, hotel points, and some cash back (or have points that can be converted into the same).

Editorial Note: The opinions, analyses, and evaluations here are mine and not provided by any bank including (but not limited to) American Express, Chase, Citibank, US Bank, Barclaycard or any other company. They have not reviewed, approved or endorsed what I have to say.