Hotwire is still one of the best ways to get a cheap rental car, you can usually get cars a few bucks cheaper on Priceline even but Hotwire will tell you upfront what the non-cancellable/non-refundable pricing is from a major airport rental facility.
But you don’t always (or even often) want a prepaid rental, and sometimes there’s not a ton of savings to be had from going through prepaid channels.
I rarely use those myself, I’m too addicted to my elite status benefits. In my own case, one of the major chains gives me really good upgrades, very personalized service, and even market rate on gas when I don’t refill the tank (and I don’t have to prepurchase a full tank in order to get it).
With a good bit of nose to the grindstone work, trying out coupon codes found in the rental car forums of FLyertalk (or on Fatwallet, Slickdeals, etc) you can often save money. But it’s a lot of muscle at times for a rental car, not always worth it for a short-term rental of a day or two.
So I’m intrigued by a new website, Autoslash.
They search publicly available discount codes automatically and also apply coupons to your rental to secure discounts and upgrades. And they continue to search for better deals and will rebook your car for you at a lower rate.
I first saw it mentioned on Flyertalk by Evan!. I assume they’re basically taking the referral commission that you might otherwise get going through a site like e-bates and booking on your own. But certainly the savings can be worthwhile, and certainly the time savings relatively to searching out your own discounts should make this a go-to site, provided it works as promised.
I’ve shared the site with a couple of people so far, though I haven’t yet used it myself, and the results have been positive. Very positive, both in terms of initial savings and in terms of personalized followup for better rates as time goes on.
In theory it should even be possible to make a booking through this site and then go back and add your own coupons later as-needed such as for the current 4,725 US Airways mile offer on a 3-day Avis rental. But I look forward to hearing everyone’s experiences with that.