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Car rentals for road trip

ShinyRedKnightShinyRedKnight Registered User regular
So I've been planning a road trip for a group of close friends and family from Chicago to Florida. We have one van, but will need another car with room for 4-5 people, and will need the car for about 7 days, from June 28th to July 6th. I have not planned this before and was hoping to be steered in the right direction.

My first question is where should I look? From my understanding Kayak and Expedia seem to be places that just compare different services from other rental places. Does anyone have specific experience with Chicago area rentals?

About what should we be looking at in terms of cost? The range for a full size car seem rather large, for example Expedia estimates a total cost of about $350, but Expedia shows costs between $400 to $700.

Does it matter how early we place the order for the rental, will costs change especially as we get closer to summer?

Thank you for any advice.

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    DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    edited April 2014
    You absolutely positively MUST look into what the mileage allowance is. Some places do offer unlimited miles but a lot of other places are like a hundred miles a day and you will absolutely murder that and then your wallet will be murdered.

    Edit: Also the age of the renters matter. If you and the other drivers aren't 25 and up expect to be gouged on price.

    DevoutlyApathetic on
    Nod. Get treat. PSN: Quippish
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    SoggybiscuitSoggybiscuit Tandem Electrostatic Accelerator Registered User regular
    So I've been planning a road trip for a group of close friends and family from Chicago to Florida. We have one van, but will need another car with room for 4-5 people, and will need the car for about 7 days, from June 28th to July 6th. I have not planned this before and was hoping to be steered in the right direction.

    My first question is where should I look? From my understanding Kayak and Expedia seem to be places that just compare different services from other rental places. Does anyone have specific experience with Chicago area rentals?

    About what should we be looking at in terms of cost? The range for a full size car seem rather large, for example Expedia estimates a total cost of about $350, but Expedia shows costs between $400 to $700.

    Does it matter how early we place the order for the rental, will costs change especially as we get closer to summer?

    Thank you for any advice.

    Rent early. Do not wait until a week before the trip to try and score a better rate (especially with the dates you provided). It's much easier to cancel a rental than to find one at the last minute. The cost appears accurate; I checked the National website, about $600 for a week in a minivan. Don't rent one with a GPS (they suck). The insurance might be worth it, but since all of my renting is for business travel and I have to get it, I'm not sure about a vehicle for personal use. Make sure you rent something with unlimited mileage. Chicago to Florida is ALOT of miles, and you don't want to be on the hook for a bunch of extra charges because of mileage (I've never encountered this in the US, but it was common in Canada). I usually buy the final tank with the rental place so I don't have to hunt down a gas station. That's about all the tips I can provide you with. Hope they help!

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    DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    At least the one Enterprise I checked in Chicago does have offers with unlimited miles. So that is one place you could look at.

    The car "categories" are always a bit weird. I would suggest going to go one step up than you think you need as they're always smaller than you expect.

    Pick the car up early in the day to get what you ordered. Later on they might not have the inventory and you'll get stuck with what they have. Once took a business trip of a thousand miles in an extended cab F-150 instead of a little sedan because of this. Roomy but the company wasn't happy about fuel prices.

    Oh, expect to put it on a Credit Card. If it's on a Debit card they'll preauthorize a sizeable chunk and can lock out funds you expect to have.

    Nod. Get treat. PSN: Quippish
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    JasconiusJasconius sword criminal mad onlineRegistered User regular
    i would be skeptical of any price close to 300. Rental cars are fucking expensive. I've rented cars to go from Philly to Deleware and back and paid 90 bucks.

    They will charge for mileage and days. Make sure you're being quoted both

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    DeebaserDeebaser on my way to work in a suit and a tie Ahhhh...come on fucking guyRegistered User regular
    Anyone quoting you less than $1000 are going to get at least $1000 in mileage anyway.

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    MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited April 2014
    The lots at O'Hare have more cats* but charge more.

    We rented a car for trip to Toronto and got it from O'Hare. I think because I was using AA points. It was unlimited, I'll see if I can find a total bill.

    *cars too.

    MichaelLC on
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    DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    Deebaser wrote: »
    Anyone quoting you less than $1000 are going to get at least $1000 in mileage anyway.

    Enterprise was around $600 for a big SUV, $800 for a minivan. Both had unlimited miles. Dunno. I have trouble thinking that NYC is that much more expensive than Chicago but I guess it could be true.

    Nod. Get treat. PSN: Quippish
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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited April 2014
    Also, if the drivers of the rental have comprehensive insurance on their own vehicles you might not need their insurance. Double check with the insurance agents.

    bowen on
    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited April 2014
    So doing a search on enterprises site gives me $800 for a minivan from a suburban office and $1600 from OHare. Unlimited miles. Avis is $500 from Elk Grove.

    Since it's during the summer, probably rent sooner rather than later.

    MichaelLC on
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    kuhlmeyekuhlmeye Registered User regular
    We did this for a trip from Iowa to Idaho about 4 years ago. Prices are about right, I think we ended up paying about $600 for the week.

    In terms of mileage, I don't think I've ever rented a mileage limited car. Not that I've always picked unlimited mileage, but I've never seen a rental option on Expedia without unlimited mileage. Just make sure it says unlimited in the options. Also, be sure you get one with cruise control and AC. That's a long drive, and its gonna be hot.

    As far as the insurance goes, as bowen said, if you have comprehensive coverage they will usually cover rental cars as well. Again, check with your insurance company.

    Book now. On Expedia at least, you don't pay up front like you do for flights or hotels. You won't have to put down money until the day of the rental, so it's super easy to cancel rental cars. Book now, and keep checking prices. They fluctuate based on demand and cars available. Could be that a week before your departure one of the companies will have a ton of cars in stock but no one renting.

    In opposition to soggybiscuit, I always refuel myself. If you buy the tank upfront the prices are usually cheaper, but they will charge you for a full tank no matter how much you bring it back with. Having to refuel just outside of your destination and still pay the $100 for the tank you bought sucks. Whatever your do, don't refuel yourself and then forget, cuz they charge you something like double for fuel if you do that.

    Avoid the extras they try to sell at the counter. The GPS's suck, and you probably have a phone that can do that for you.

    Make sure you give the car a good once over before you drive it off the lot. This is especially true of "off airport" rental places. Don't get charged for damage you didn't cause to the car.

    Also, if you are under 25, bring someone over 25 to rent with you. They will still let you rent the car typically, but they will charge an additional fee / day (usually like... 20 bucks).

    Enterprise, Hertz, and Alamo are typically the nicest companies to rent from, but you will pay for it. If you're renting from an airport, the prices will be higher, but across the board the quality will be higher.

    I've rented in Chicago multiple times, all from the airport. I've rented from Ace and Thrifty at the least. Both nice enough, fairly cheap, but they were small cars. The experience was like any other car rental place.

    PSN: the-K-flash
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    DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    This may or may not be helpful, but while doing your research look into the cost of flying or taking a train and renting a car when you get there to be flexible.

    This is useless, of course, if you still have to transport like 10 people that way.

    What is this I don't even.
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    ShinyRedKnightShinyRedKnight Registered User regular
    Thanks for the awesome advice guys.

    So far, from what I've seen here and my own research, I'll be checking Enterprise, and probably through Expedia. I believe the drivers have comprehensive insurance, and will watch for unlimited miles. Thankfully, it looks like we can use our own van, but have 3-4 extra people so we will need another car, hopefully nothing that big though.

    We were thinking of using a train or flying, but we will need transportation for the entire week anyway so we would end up renting a car either way, and would need two. It seems the biggest issue will be unlimited mile offers.

    Thankfully, we will be leaving from Elk Grove or close by, and it seems those areas are cheaper.

    I'll keep this updated as I suggest this all to my group.

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    VisenGodVisenGod Registered User regular
    If you're just looking for a full-sized car, I found one for $250 at the Avis in Elk Grove Village (I don't know the area at all so that may not be close). Used coupon code MUHA001 from Priority Club. I've never been asked for proof of membership but it's also free to be a member and has excellent saving on car rentals, a lot of the time. Anyway, you might check that out.

    Link to search with code already in.

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    zepherinzepherin Russian warship, go fuck yourself Registered User regular
    edited April 2014
    Also sometimes your car insurance will have preset rates with car rental companies. It may be worth a call to Geiko (or whoever your insurance company is) and see if you can have them get a good price. I'm about 50/50 on this being a good deal. If you can pick a size of car and are not too picky about brand, hotwire is great. I actually love hotwire way more than I like kayak. A bit random for their best rates, but I have yet to pay a high price with them, or gotten a crap item with hotels and cars.

    Doing a quick search with hotwire, for a full sized car, if I was going next week it would be about 350 total with unlimited mileage and taxes included. Expedia is showing 653 total.

    Their insurance is also cheaper than the insurance at the counter, so you can do the extra insurance for 9$ a day. I never do because my CC provides insurance on rentals, and my primary insurance has a low deductible and covers rental cars too, but if you don't have full coverage, or you have a high deductible, it may be advisable.

    zepherin on
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