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Should I Prepay for My Car Rental?

All rental vendors want your guaranteed business, therefore most of them like to offer their customers a “pay now” or prepay option. This allows you to pay for either the entire sum, or a large percentage, of your reservation in advance. For the most part, prepaying will charge the funds in one major payment so, be mindful of how much money you have available on your credit card. BUT, there are some perks to this strategy.  Prepaying typically comes with a 10-15% discount as a little “thank you” from your vendor.

There’s a lot to consider with prepaying, so let’s discuss if your trip is a good candidate for it.


A major perk for prepaying is saving money and stress. Like mentioned earlier, prepaying can save you 10-15% on total costs. Also, knowing in advance how much your rental costs is helpful when planning and budgeting for your trip.  As it was mentioned earlier, prepaying means one big, immediate transaction so make sure you can afford it at the time of booking. AutoRentals.com real time matrix has been featured in SmarterTravel’s blog, The 16 Best Car Rental Booking Sites for 2020.

Changing Trip Details

Depending on the vendor, prepaid reservations are set in stone which does not allow much room for any changes or adjustments. Other companies, may allow you to adjust your reservation but it might be more difficult or time-consuming than a non-prepaid scenario.

Cancelling Your Reservation

Depending on the vendor, you may either get a partial refund or, more likely, no refund at all. Regardless, most companies charge a cancellation fee for prepaid bookings. If you need to cancel your trip for any reason try to do so as soon as possible. Cancelling a prepaid trip more than 24 hours ahead of your pickup time, you get charged a $25* cancellation fee. If you cancel within the 24 hours before your pickup time, the fee increases to $50*.

*Fee prices are an industry average.

The Bottom Line

Rates fluctuate daily therefore today’s seemingly great deal may seem overpriced tomorrow. The best way to save money is to check rates everyday. Reliable third party sites, like AutoRentals.com, assure the lowest possible rates. If you are looking to prepay then check a third party travel site to make sure you are saving money.

If you are considering prepaying, inquire with a few rental suppliers about their policy on adjusting/cancelling prepaid reservations. This can be looked up online or by phone. If you are using a third party site then there are available links to find out vendor-specific contact information.

Booking with a Third Party Site—How to Save the Most

We know that booking a trip can be very stressful and confusing. Picking a location can be hard enough but then you have to make the plans. These days, everything is expensive which is why you have third party sites like AutoRentals.com to help you compare and find the best rates for your car rental. Third party booking is ideal for bargain hunters who want to maximize their travel savings and don’t mind using different car rental vendors each time they travel. Below you will find some tips to help you stretch your vacation budget by saving on your car rental using our third party site.

How Do They Work?

Well, unfortunately, we can’t speak for ALL third party sites but we can speak for ours—AutoRentals.com. Our goal is to provide the car rental rates from as many car rental vendors as possible to show you all possible options and assist you in making the best, cost-effective choice. We want it to be quick, simple, and effective.

We are NOT a car rental vendor, we don’t have a fleet of cars to rent you. We simply gather all the information from the car rental vendors (big and small), other third party discount vendors (Orbitz, Priceline, Hotwire, etc.) and present it so you can have all the necessary information.

The idea behind AutoRentals.com is to make renting an easy experience while also giving the best rates to our customers so they can rent the type of vehicle they’re looking for. Other companies partner with us because they want to be competitive! Not a bad deal for you, right?


Third party sites, like AutoRentals.com, allow complete transparency for comparing prices and rental packages. Third party sites want to be honest and show the lowest price because we serve you—the customer.

TIP: Always look at the total price not just the price per day. Different vendors structure their pricing differently and third party sites can’t change their pricing. Some vendors make their daily rate very low but will add high taxes and fees causing the total rate to skyrocket.

Shopping on a direct site only allows drivers to see one vendor’s pricing and packages. By providing side-by-side pricing, third party sites save time in the trip planning process. No need to jump back and forth between car rental sites when all the necessary information is in one place. Price comparisons can be adjusted for all travel durations, days of the year, and locations. We also provide filters so you can see exactly what you’re looking for.
Another perk of third party shopping is getting special deals. Rental suppliers and third party sites can work together and give budgeting customers a lower price than the direct sites. This benefits the supplier by building a potential loyal customer and also helps the site give their consumers rock-bottom prices.

TIP: Join free member programs such as Hertz Gold, Dollar Express, Thrifty Blue Chip, Avis Preferred, Budget Fastbreak, etc. When you’re a member of these programs, if they have the cheapest rate and you decide to book with them (even though our site), you will be entitled to the best service.  After booking or at the counter, you can call the company and see if your points can be applied to your account.

What our Critics Say

Third party sites have very low rates so, sometimes rewards programs are unable to be utilized if the rate is already discounted. You can always ask the vendor over the phone or at the counter if your points can be applied to your account.
You can also occasionally get “manager rates” by booking directly through the company. However, this is very unlikely. You would get these by checking on the company’s website.

Keep This in Mind

When you book through AutoRentals.com, very often you’ll be booking through the actual vendor, just at the cheapest rate. We provide the service of showing you everyone’s rates, comparing them for you, and connecting you to whatever vendor you choose in most cases. With that being said, there really is no difference, no cost, and you are simply saving time.

We look forward to serving you and making your trip planning just a little bit easier!

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  1. I received a response that was not what I asked.What I asked was..how much more per day does it cost to have my 21 year old granddaughter to help drive the rental car I rented per day?

    1. Hi there,

      Sorry you were not able to find the answer to your question. In the vast majority of cases, drivers ages 20 or 21 to 24 have to pay a daily surcharge of $25 – $30 per day but each car rental company has their own policy. Make sure to check with the individual providers before booking.

  2. What does it cost to add another driver that’s over age 25? I’m on your website to rent a pickup truck- Nissan Frontier $40 a day or similar at Enterprise rental the Month of July 7 through 13. In case necessary to add another day will I pay an extra forty dollars? It say unlimited mileage and pay at pickup, but why are they asking for my credit card number now? I have know problem paying up front, but in case a need to change a time earlier or later I don’t want to lose my money. Please respond
    Thank you
    Myra Waters

    1. Hi there,

      That question depends on what company you are renting the vehicle from, please see the specific providers terms and conditions for more information. If you would like to extend your rental beyond the initial reservation some companies do apply additional fees and cannot guarantee the same rental price per day. If you don’t want to add your credit card information make sure you select a pay later option.


    1. Hello Cathy – the deposit that is required of you will depend on a few factors. Namely, the company you rent with, the location at which you rent and the type of payment you intend to use. Also, the deposit could vary depending on if you are local renter and what type of vehicle you rent. It is best to contact the local office with all your details to determine your exact deposit amount for the rental car. Thanks!

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