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Beware car rentals

Amazing article on CNN today about a rental car shortage and resulting absurd rates here in the US, which likely means it can apply in Europa as well. $300 a day for a Kia, not a week.

https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/25/business/rental-car-shortage-price-spike/index.html

"During this period of pent-up demand for travel but not enough supply, you should expect prices would be higher than in the past. The travel providers are testing the waters. We're in uncharted territory. They've all lost a lot money in the last year."

Posted by
4677 posts

I have just tried a couple of dummy bookings for places where I know the price of hire cars - Portugal and Spain for June and October. Prices are exactly where I would expect them to be and the same as pre-Covid. It must depend on location and what month.

Posted by
424 posts

Here in Alaska some of the major car rental companies either sold or shipped south most of their cars. Or have closed the business altogether. That means that the local companies are picking up the sack and can charge what they want and get it. I know of one such business that is charging $100 - 150 / day for worn out 10 year old cars.

Posted by
4342 posts

I managed an incredibly good rate for my, likely to be cancelled, trip to Spain. A Mercedes E Class for £270 for a week in June, typically that would be £800+ and with a reputable firm, Enterprise. Whatever is allegedly happening to car rental prices in the US doesn't appear to be replicated in Europe.

Posted by
7388 posts

Was looking at rental car rates in Hawaii for a hoped for trip ( Nov.) and found rates are twice what they were pre covid

Posted by
1233 posts

Joe,
we are hoping to go to Maui the end of April, and I fell over when I first saw those rental prices. Managed to get a "bargain" for $445, total, for a week, [NOT pre-paid}, but these current rates are the highest I've ever seen!!!

Posted by
275 posts

Pat- you might get a better rate if you bundled your air fare, hotel, and car in a package deal- just a random thought...

Posted by
759 posts

The CNN article is strictly about the US and pricing in ‘hot’ aka popular vacation spots now open to tourists.. Most of those places are out of cars...yeah, Florida, spring break season and out of cars—who would ever expect that..and rental companies getting real greedy in search of desperate income. There is NOTHING in the article about Europe. And yeah, it may also happen with airfares and hotels....

Posted by
1233 posts

Hi, Kenneth,
also from San Diego-
I did really well on hotel and air fare [all changeable, if need be] , so I guess I can deal with $400+ on the car. I checked today, and rental cars were running about $1000 a week in Maui.
Both husband and I are vaccinated, so hope this trip really happens.
Thanks for thinking of me, and safe travels to you!

Posted by
3146 posts

I have been seeing one week rental rates at LaGuardia in the $1100 (for a midsize) range for August. I reserved something very early at about $375 thinking that the rates would fall, but they keep going up.

Posted by
5174 posts

What I do think you will see are cases where supply does not meet demand, so prices either skyrocket, or you simply can not get a car. All of the rental companies have drastically cut their fleets...remember pictures of Airport parking lots crammed with rental cars last April? Even one of my local rental places had to lease a parking lot to store unused cars (they usually have 3/4 of their inventory on the road).

Good news is that they were able to sell those cars on the market when used car sales took off last year, but they have not yet invested in replacing the fleet. It is unlikely that they will buy early and have ample cars to meet demand when the post-covid travel wave hits.

Posted by
1135 posts

My Munich rental (25 days, cancelled) last Sepember was $1,000 Canadian. For the same period this coming September it is over $1,700

Posted by
4342 posts

When I was in Miami in August two years ago I went to the airport to collect my pre-booked car and was met with a long line of concerned looking customers. All the other rental agencies had similar lines. Shortly after joining the queue a representative from the agency spoke to everyone in the line and stated that they were running out of cars, even those that had been pre-booked, the other agencies were in a similar position. Fortunately I had booked a large SUV and I managed to bag the last one available but a lot of people were unable to get a car they'd booked and paid for. Despite this the company was still accepting online bookings!

It would appear that the problem is not specifically Covid related but more a practice of overselling.

Posted by
1351 posts

This must be strictly US as noted above.

I recently booked a car - picking in Lithuania and dropping in Latvia - normal prices (even cheap after accounting for the drop off fee). Yesterday, was checking car rentals in Albania and also Corfu, Greece for this August and the rates seems to be fairly normal fro Albania. Corfu seemed slightly more expensive but not exorbitant.

Posted by
4522 posts

A lot of people simply did not read the article. When COVID hit, rental agencies sold off much of their fleet since there was no demand, it cost them money to own and store the cars, and it earned them much needed cash by selling cars. They have not yet replaced those cars, and now that demand is picking up, during hot travel times, demand far outstrips supply. This is what is causing the spike in car rates and it is entirely dependent on timing and location.

The article suggests that you book your rental well in advance to avoid price spikes.

The article also notes that this issue may last all year as it will take time for rental agencies to build up their fleets. This is compounded by issues with new car supply. And agencies are struggling with cash to buy new cars (Hertz is still going through bankruptcy).

Although the article does not mention Europe, the same situation is likely to impact European agencies as well.