Rebecca Bernard
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Are You Ready To Fight for a Rental Car?

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Airport sign directing passengers to the rental car desks
Photo: Michael Gray via CC

The good news is that vaccine rollout is picking up speed in the United States and safe travel is on the horizon. The bad news is that if you choose to fly, you might end up stranded at the airport without a rental car

2020 was a rough year for a lot of businesses, but the travel industry was one of the hardest hit. To try and stay afloat, many rental car companies slashed their fleet sizes to curb maintenance costs and bring in cash. The low demand for rental cars made that a good business decision. However, as more Americans take to the skies, that means there are fewer rental cars to go around. 

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Even with travel picking up, Laura Begley Bloom of Forbes reports that it could still be a while before companies can afford to add to their fleets. Advantage Rent A Car and Hertz are working through bankruptcy, and other companies need more cash before they can afford the latest models. 

Part shortages at auto manufacturers can make finding cars for purchase difficult to anyone, let alone fleet buyers, making the situation even worse.

It’s not even just a question of whether you can find a rental car; it’s whether or not you can afford it. If you ever took an economics class, you know that when demand goes up, so do prices. Begley Bloom spoke to Jonathan Weinberg, CEO of a rental deal site called AutoSlash, and he reported that renting an SUV in Arizona for a weekend in March was going to cost about $700 a day.

I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t planning on using my $1,400 stimulus check on two days of driving in the Grand Canyon State

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When you’re planning your post-vaccine escape, Weinberg recommends that you look up rental cars and book them as far ahead as possible. Then you know availability and how much the rental will cost before you buy plane tickets.

If a car out of your price range, you can always take a classic American road trip instead.