Whitney Russell
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Rental Cars to Get Pricier and More Elusive for the Holidays

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GMC SUV Driving In Snow
Experts recommend booking your rental car ASAP to ensure that you get one this holiday season
Photo: Pixabay

Planning a holiday road trip or two this year? Brace yourself for some steep rental prices — and a continuation of this year’s rental car shortage.

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Rental car trends this holiday season…and beyond

Analysts predict that rental car prices will peak as we get closer to Thanksgiving and Christmas, as Car and Driver’s Sebastian Blanco shares. And considering that rental car rates are already 75% higher this year than they were back in 2019, you can expect transportation to cost you a bit more over the holidays if you’ll be driving a rental rather than your personal vehicle.

Rentals might also be harder to find for seasonal road trips. That’s because the nationwide shortage of rental cars that hit earlier this year, as Americans started to feel more comfortable with traveling during a pandemic, is set to continue through the end of this year. Some analysts think that the shortage will extend even further, into 2023, before rental companies have replenished their inventory and rental fees start to drop in response.

Tips on securing a rental car for your holiday road trip

Already have a set destination for your holiday travels? Then the best thing you can do is to book a rental car ASAP. The sooner you reserve one, the more likely you are to beat the odds during the holiday trip planning rush and claim one for your trip.

If you’re one of the lucky few whose destination isn’t yet set in stone, rethink the destination you want to drive to this holiday season. Some locations will have cheaper rental car rates than others, as Kayak.com confirms. For instance, the cities of Seattle, Cleveland, and Milwaukee had cheaper car rental rates than Honolulu, Colorado Springs, and Myrtle Beach.

Another strategy is to try a smaller rental company than one of the larger mainstream ones like Enterprise and Hertz, as CN Traveller’s Jessica Puckett suggests. Some rental companies have additional ways of sourcing their fleet cars, like having some leased vehicles in their inventory, so they won’t be as impacted by supply-chain shortages.

Excited about your upcoming holiday road trip? Brush up on these five tips for safer drives. Then read up on what you should do before leaving the rental car lot.