Priceline.com uses only the top five name-brand car rental companies: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Hertz, and National.
These well-known companies usually have the most convenient airport pick-up locations in the U.S. and at major airports in Canada.
You always get unlimited miles.
Your savings are guaranteed. If you find a lower price for the same company, car type, dates, and location on another on-line site within 48 hours, Priceline will refund you 100 percent of the difference.
You have the peace of mind of driving a well-maintained car. In the unlikely event of mechanical problems, these top five companies provide repair services, and even replacement vehicles, throughout Canada and the U.S., unlike many brands.
You need be only 21 years old, instead of 25, to rent these cars.
Disadvantages of Priceline's rental cars
Once your bid is accepted at Priceline, your car rental becomes nonrefundable.
You cannot change your car reservation in any way, even by paying a penalty.
These Priceline rules are a trade-off that make it important to only use Priceline if you save money. So make an informed bidand an aggressive bid if you have time for a rebidand save.
Then, check the price found on easy-to-use Hotwire.com, which like Priceline, does not reveal brand name until you purchase. Hotwire uses Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Europcar (international only), Hertz, and National.
Once you see Hotwire's prices, be sure to enter your correct pick up and drop off times.
Never bid more on Priceline than the Hotwire price for the same dates, times, and location. At times, Hotwire may be less expensive than Priceline.
Consider days and seasons: At peak times, your discount will be less.
During school breaks, you may be lucky to find cars at any price near popular Florida attractions. At other times, you can expect very substantial discounts using Priceline at these same locations. For example, at Orlando airport, Hertz has more than 6,000 vehicles to rent. But Hertz earns nothing from the ones left sitting on the lot.
Rose Bowls, Super Bowls, large conventions, great snow in Colorado, etc.all increase demand. For every bid, you should consider whether or not rental companies think they can rent without giving big discounts.
Standard weekend rental rates (usually 12 noon Thursday to Monday) are already less expensive than weekday rates. So be sure to base your discount for weekend reservations on weekend prices.
Be aware that subcompact or "economy" cars seldom come with radios and CD players. If these are features you want, bid on a compact-size car. Usually, you'll find very little difference in price.
In general, make your bid 20% lower than the best available prices you find on the discount travel websites that tell you the brand name in advance (unlike Hotwire and Priceline).
You may get an even greater discount on larger cars and specialty vehicles.
Hotwire and Priceline usually offer the lowest car rental prices, so make your Priceline bid lower than Hotwire's price, but not drastically so.
For any size car, go for a greater discount (30% or more) if you are bidding weeks in advance, even if your plans coincide with a peak season or a special event. If your bid is turned down, you have lost nothing because you still have time to rebid.
NOTE: Remember that Priceline allows you to bid on the same car size, pick-up date, drop-off date, and location only once every 24 hours. You can rebid sooner only if you change one of these four components.
Ready to bid? Submit your Priceline car rental bid: