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October 23, 2021

Car rental costs continue to rise

If you haven't rented a car recently, you'll be amazed at how much rates have increased –  despite the fact that airlines, hotels, and cruise lines have been cutting their prices all over the place.

The car-rental business is struggling big time. In fact, agencies are squeezed so tightly they can no longer maintain enough supply to meet demand, according to the Globe and Mail.

Companies are selling their fleets of vehicles and not buying enough replacements. The result: Rising rates and unhappy customers. Business travellers, the industry’s lifeblood, regularly report showing up at major airports only to find no cars, or only older ones, on the lot.

Frequent renters have come up with various short-term solutions to sidestep the problem, the Globe says. Some are using opaque services like Hotwire to find the best price going and then having their usual agency match it. Others have abandoned brand loyalty altogether, preferring instead to simply comparison shop online and go with the cheapest.

Cheapest, that is, until they check out the additional fees.

Most drivers expect to face insurance, mileage and refueling charges when renting cars, but what about unexpected costs like early return fees, environmental charges, or even extra fees for using your own frequent flyer miles.

When asked about the long term prospects for the rental-car industry, industry pundit Bill MacNeice feels these changes are permanent, and there's only one way to make sure you get the car you need: “Book early and pay more.”

Very reassuring.

Tell us: Have you found one rental company that offers consistently decent pricing for your travel?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...