In a few day, I will be traveling to New Jersey to enjoy a family vacation and to do some fist pumping with Snooki (ok, maybe not the fist pumping with Snooki part). As you can imagine, I didn’t just settle for the first travel fares I came across – I did my research to find the lowest price.
Third-party travel websites such as Hotwire, Expedia, Travelocity and others claim they can provide you extra low rates for your vacation. In many cases they can, but the most noticeable savings come from bundling. Bundling refers to booking your airfare and/or rental car and/or hotel stay all at once in order to get a lower price. It’s a similar concept to how cable companies will offer you a lower monthly rate to bundle your telephone, internet, and cable TV services together.
In my case, I will be staying in a house and my airfare was covered the parentals (lucky me). That leaves me with the expense of a rental car. In this scenario, it is almost always more beneficial to reserve directly through the car rental company’s website. Why? Because I won’t benefit from the bundling discounts provided by those third party websites mentioned above if I’m only reserving a rental car. Also, whether you need a rental car, plane tickets, or a place to stay, the direct providers of those services almost always have specials going on.
That was exactly the case in my situation. No matter how much I searched on the third party sites, I couldn’t find rental car rates lower than what I found from Enterprise Rent-A-Car who was running a promotion offering 15% off weekly rentals.
Here are three tips to ensure that you too can save money when reserving your non-bundled travel arrangments:
1. Check the provider’s website for specials: Rental car companies, airlines, and hotels almost always offer specials that third party sites don’t take into consideration. You should first determine which airlines, rental car companies, or hotels are applicable to your travels. Then check each companies websites and write down the deals they are offering which apply.
2. Visit RetailMeNot.com: By typing in any website address at RetailMeNot.com (eg. “enterprise.com”), you can find out if there are any available coupon codes not mentioned on the travel company’s website which may apply discounts or savings towards your reservation. I was able to get the great car rental rate I did from Enterprise Rent-A-Car using RetailMeNot.com.
3. Cross Reference with third party sites: Ok, so I never said you will ALWAYS find a lower price through the provider’s website. It’s still a good idea to research various third party travel sites before making your final reservation. Watch out for booking fees though!
What other money-saving non-bundling travel tips can you provide? Tell us with a comment.