Browse rental pricing by date?

Old Mar 12, 19, 1:53 pm
  #1  
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Browse rental pricing by date?

Any pointers to a car rental pricing tool that gives a view similar to Google Flights' "graph" view?

I travel a few times a year and have really open-ended dates and I've yet to find a good tool for car rentals that lets me zero in on the cheapest dates to rent.

Any ideas? Attaching a pic of the google tool for reference... (oops no I'm not, new poster, not allowed)
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Old Mar 12, 19, 2:18 pm
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Unfortunately, there isn't anything like that for rentals. Google can do it for flights because the product (a seat on a particular flight or a stay in a hotel between X and Y) is relatively standardized. With car rentals however, the price can vary by pickup date/time, return date/time, vehicle size/class booked, etc. so it's very difficult to do a flexible date type search the way you could for air or hotel.
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Old Mar 13, 19, 4:43 am
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I've wanted this too since I like cars so much I'd be happy to head to the local airport and pick something nice off the National aisle for the weekend if I could find random dirt cheap rates. But as AutoSlash says there are too many variables. Rental car prices can change by the hour and corporate rates and coupons complicate it further.
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Old Mar 13, 19, 11:25 am
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Originally Posted by spork66 View Post
I travel a few times a year and have really open-ended dates and I've yet to find a good tool for car rentals that lets me zero in on the cheapest dates to rent.
At most locations, there are no cheapest dates to rent, in absolute terms. The cheapest dates to rent are often (but not always) a week or two out (if the facility is not close to sold out by then, of course). So I just book "pay later" rates, and find that I can almost always lower my rate by amending my reservation a week or two out (though it depends on the location, some locations are expensive no matter when you book).

So for what you want to do, what you would really need is not a flexible date calendar (because that only tells what's cheapest at that moment, which may be close to useless), but rather historical data for that location to see patterns (like annual major conventions or other events) that raise prices on certain dates each year.

Some sites such as Orbitz used to show you a multi-day grid (which would show you if Saturday or Sunday was cheaper at your specified pickup-time and your specified drop-off time), but Orbitz doesn't seem to have that any more, and in case you had to specify pick up and return time and it only showed something like +/- 3 days. I don't know if any site does that much any more.
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Last edited by sdsearch; Mar 13, 19 at 11:34 am
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Old Mar 13, 19, 12:58 pm
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Thanks @sdsearch - good info.

I spent some time on Alamo's site last night, just because I have a membership with them and they tend to be the cheapest on-airport option at my destination (at least the cheapest outside the Sixt and other dodgy options).

I found a few things that seemed true no matter how far out I went in time:

- doing weekday-only rentals always had a lower price, no exceptions
- going way in advance popped up a "reserve early" column that had rates about 1/3 less than their other rates
- first major price drop was about 3 weeks out from the current date

Now I was looking in April, so Easter is involved and that may throw things. And what I found on Alamo could be totally different from other rental agencies...
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Old Mar 13, 19, 3:49 pm
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Yes, Alamo is leisure rates. National is corporate rates, and have a free weekend day
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Old Mar 14, 19, 12:08 am
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Originally Posted by m907 View Post
I've wanted this too since I like cars so much I'd be happy to head to the local airport and pick something nice off the National aisle for the weekend if I could find random dirt cheap rates. But as AutoSlash says there are too many variables. Rental car prices can change by the hour and corporate rates and coupons complicate it further.
I hear you, also a car lover and take my vacations expressly to rent a sports car and drive mountain roads for a week straight.
I don't know any programming, but if you have some basic skills you might be able to use a website scraper to collect the data for you, it can be set up to run however frequently you like (as long as the rental agencies don't autoblock your IP for pinging their servers too much). In short, you'd be reverse-engineering another AutoSlash/Priceline or something, and that's probably a lot of work.

There was a Quora thread where some programmer basically did this on a macro scale and found that weekend rates are cheaper, last week of the month is cheaper, and that the companies are all about the same except bottom dollar/horrible service places, and National which was better service.
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Old Mar 14, 19, 4:54 am
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Originally Posted by glostix View Post
I hear you, also a car lover and take my vacations expressly to rent a sports car and drive mountain roads for a week straight.
I don't know any programming, but if you have some basic skills you might be able to use a website scraper to collect the data for you, it can be set up to run however frequently you like (as long as the rental agencies don't autoblock your IP for pinging their servers too much). In short, you'd be reverse-engineering another AutoSlash/Priceline or something, and that's probably a lot of work.

There was a Quora thread where some programmer basically did this on a macro scale and found that weekend rates are cheaper, last week of the month is cheaper, and that the companies are all about the same except bottom dollar/horrible service places, and National which was better service.
You got it brother, there isn't anything better than a nice car, an empty mountain road, and nothing to do but drive.

Unfortunately I don't have any programming skills. I asked the AutoSlash folks about it before, and they said they used to publicize dirt cheap rates when they came across them but found people didn't care because they put cost of rental cars last on their priority list when choosing dates for a vacation.
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Old Mar 14, 19, 5:20 pm
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Originally Posted by spork66 View Post
they tend to be the cheapest on-airport option at my destination (at least the cheapest outside the Sixt and other dodgy options).
Sixt is dodgy? They only rent high-end cars and don't seem dodgy to me.
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