When I checked the car rental prices for a decent automobile in the Dominican Republic when I started looking for cheap plane tickets to embark on my worldwide travel, the prices were more than reasonable. I just wanted to get a hint on what to expect as far as prices for different classes of vehicles are concerned, but made no reservations. I did not have the plane ticket purchased yet and deemed it important to have the plane ticket first so I know the exact day and time of arrival in my destination. Without the plane ticket I wouldn’t know which date to book my car rental for so I merely checked prices and left it to deal with it after I have had my flight arrangements taken care of – BAD IDEA!
I went to check the Avis website the following day since plane ticket prices increased significantly overnight and I could not believe my eyes. Car rental prices, even with Avis coupon grew almost twice fold. If I made a reservation today, instead of the day before, I would pay more for Kia Rio than I would have for Suzuki Grand Vitara yesterday. In other words, had I made a reservation yesterday, I would pay less money and have myself a nice SUV, whereas today I would have to pay more but would get a small passenger car which is three classes down from SUV. SUV rental prices grew way beyond reasonable and were out of question.
If I was frustrated with unprecedented growth of plane ticket prices overnight, unexpected growth of car rental prices made it even worse. And then I realized what kind of stupid idea it was not making a reservation in advance, even though I didn’t have the exact day and time or arrival. See, unlike with plane tickets, car rental companies are very flexible with their reservations and making any changes to it, including cancellations is easy and costs you nothing (at least when dealing with companies like Avis). That means that one should make a reservation on the spot when they see a good price, because even if your dates change, you will be able to easily modify it. And if you are unable to make the trip, you can cancel the reservation and the life will go on. There are no cancellation fees.
Don’t be like me. If you see a good price for car rentals, make a reservation. If you put it off till tomorrow to think about it overnight or to find out exact dates – by the time you have returned to their website, the price could be different and you will have missed the opportunity to have a car rented on the cheap. You have nothing to lose if you book well in advance. Not doing it may result in overpaying later.
The way it works with car rental companies (for the most part), is that you don’t pay your rental fees until you have returned the car. Your credit card will not be charged until after the rental period (this is also in case you cause damage to the rented unit so they can charge you full amount, including the amount to cover for damage you have caused). As such, if you make a reservation online, they will just take your credentials (Avis doesn’t even collect credit card number, just name, email and phone number) and the car is booked for you. You come, pick it up, drive it, and when you are returning it, the representative will inspect it and you sign the papers so they can charge you what you have agreed upon when you were making reservation.
There is really no reason to hesitate with reservations. The fact that you can easily modify or cancel your reservation for no extra fee makes for the biggest advantage of booking your car in advance. I’ve learned my lesson here so from this point on, each time I was planning a trip to a country where I might be interested in car rentals, I’d check for the best prices and if I saw one I liked, I’d make reservations on the spot. Because if I changed my mind or something changes in my plans, I could easily pull back from it or modify it as needed, including change of countries. Take advantage of early booking because there really is nothing to lose. But do verify the fine print. I know for sure it works this way with Avis, but I’m not familiar with terms of service of every car rental company out there.