How Can I Get the Best Price
on a Maui or Hawaii Car Rental?
Just like hotels and airlines, car rental companies are constantly offering various discounts and changing their prices. That’s why you need to do a little shopping to get the best deal. You do need a rental car for your entire time on Maui, because public transportation is minimal and there are many sights to see and things to do all over the island. So read the fourteen suggestions below, and start saving.
1. Compare several companies
Go to the web sites (or telephone) each of the major car rental companies, tell them your travel dates and desired car size, and see who offers you the best price for Maui car rentals. The companies with the most choices and the most locations are Hertz, Avis, National, Budget, Alamo, Dollar and Thrifty. You have to check several of them, because the company that gave your friend the best price last month may not be the company offering you the best price today.
2. Check travel websites
Go to discount travel websites and see whether they can beat the best price you found in step #1. Use this box to easily search multiple discount travel websites at once (the airport code for Maui is OGG):
3. Use AAA or AARP
Ask for discounts if you belong to AAA or AARP. They can provide you with discount code numbers good at the major auto rental companies. You can fill in those codes on their websites or you can call each of the car rental companies and ask for discounts based on your AAA or AARP membership.
4. Recheck, recheck, recheck
There is generally no penalty for canceling a rental car reservation, so reserve a car at the best price you find on your first day of shopping on the web. Then go back to those websites again a couple weeks later, a month later and again a month before your trip. If one of the car rental companies has cut their price, make a new reservation at the lower price and cancel your previous reservation. (It doesn’t matter whether your new reservation is with the same or a different company than your original reservation.) This way, if prices drop you get the new low price, but if prices increase you just keep your previous reservation at the old low price. (Avoid reservations that lock you into a set price and prevent you from shopping for a better deal.)
5. Try Costco or Sam’s
If you belong to Costco or Sam’s Club, go to their website and click on Travel and then on Car Rental. Check the price from each of the car rental companies offered directly through Costco or Sam’s.
6. Check the Entertainment Book
The Entertainment Coupon Book for most cities and states has coupons for discount car rentals. If you don’t already own the Entertainment Book for your home area, you can buy the Hawaii Entertainment book. It has discounts on restaurants on the major Hawaiian islands (though most are for Honolulu on the island of Oahu), in addition to car rentals, and other discounts. When you reserve your rental car, be sure to verify that they will accept the Entertainment Book discount coupon.
7. Avoid spouse charges
If both you and your husband or wife are planning to drive the rental car, call the rental car company you are considering using and ask them whether there is an extra daily charge for your spouse to be authorized to drive. Often the amount of that charge is high enough to turn the best deal into the worst deal! If so, either change your reservation to a different company, or ask how you can get that daily charge eliminated. Some rental car companies (such as National) don’t charge for your spouse to drive if you are a member of their frequent-renters club (see item #10 below). Others (such as Alamo) may not charge for your spouse if you rent through Costco. Some (such as Hertz) may not charge for your spouse if you are a member of AAA and use your AAA discount code at the time of reservation.
8. Avoid airport fees
Rent your car in town or in the resort area instead of at the airport, to avoid airport concession fee taxes. For example, on Maui, if you rent from any of the major companies at their Kaanapali-Kapalua location, or at their Kihei location, you won’t have to pay the 11.11% added fee they all have to charge when you rent from their Kahului Airport location. Of course you’ll have to take a shuttle from the airport to your hotel, but if you pick up your rental car the next day you will often save enough on one day’s less rental to cover the cost of the shuttle. Either return the car to the same place you rented it, or check that there is no drop charge if you are renting at the resort and returning to the airport.
If you are using a travel agent to help plan your trip, ask about package plans that include a rental car and hotel or condo (or air fare) in one package price.
10. Join the club
If you travel and rent cars at least once a year, join the frequent renters club (like frequent flyers for the airlines) for at least a couple of the major car rental companies. I have found the best discounts for members of National’s Emerald Club, but you should also check out Hertz #1, Avis Preferred, Budget RapidRez (Fastbreak), Alamo Insiders (Quicksilver), and Dollar Express. Membership in these clubs is usually free, but if any of them ask you to pay a fee to join, they will usually waive that fee if you just request a free membership. Even if the company you rent from is not offering discounts to members at the time you are going, there are other advantages to belonging to their frequent renters club. Most let club members skip the waiting line when you pick up your car. They have your paperwork all completed in advance and hand it to you with no waiting. National even lets you go directly to the car lot and choose the car you want, without first having to speak to any agent or wait in any line. And some of the clubs waive the fee for your spouse to drive if you are a club member.
11. Avoid off-brands
There are small independent car rental companies on each of the Hawaiian islands. But I find that they rent older and less reliable cars. If you use the above tips, you can get a good price on a newer car from one of the major companies. You don’t have time for car problems on your vacation.
12. Don’t pay for extra insurance
Don’t buy unnecessary insurance. Call your home automobile insurance company to verify that they will cover your rental car. Check with your credit card company too, since many credit cards provide free collision coverage on car rentals. If your home insurance or credit card is covering you, then turn down the expensive added insurance offered by the car rental company when you pick up the car.
13. Don’t pay extra for “pre-paid fuel”
With pre-paid fuel, they charge you for a whole tank of gas, even if you return the car with the tank half full. Instead, refill the tank just before you return the car, so you won’t have to buy any gas from the car rental company.
14. Always have an advance reservation
The very highest prices are usually paid by people who show up at the car rental counter with no reservation. You will save money by reserving your Maui rental car in advance.
15. Subscribe to the free Maui Newsletter for more tips
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If you prefer not to rent a car while on Maui, see Maui Without a Rental Car for info on shuttles, buses, taxis, and van tours. But my advice is still to rent a car for your entire time on Maui.