This is part 2 of my series on renting cars in Hawaii. I also suggest you read part 1: “My Experience Renting a Car”.
I’m a big cheapskate. I love saving money. Everything I buy or spend time on, I like to shop around and see the different options available. And when I find something that saves me a lot of money, I get a giddy feeling inside of me. Renting a car was no different – I had to make sure I got a good price on things so I did a bit of reading before I got my rental.
Here are some very useful tips on how to save money and rent a car cheap in Hawaii.
Should I get rental car insurance?
This was something that surprised me.
When I got an online quote from Enterprise, they did not mention insurance at all. So I arrived at the Waikiki branch one day, thought I was getting a killer rate, but then they showed me their daily insurance rates… and getting full insurance (there are 4 types of coverage) cost more than the car rental!
Rental companies offer 4 different types of insurance.
The following insurance add-ons were presented to me at the Enterprise branch:
1. Loss Damage Waiver (~$19/day). Covers rental car damage or theft. This is to insure the actual rental car.
2. Liability Coverage (~$12/day). Covers damages to 3rd parties. VERY IMPORTANT! No liability coverage means that people you cause injury or death to can sue you personally and you will pay out of your own pocket.
3. Personal Accident Insurance (~$4/day). This is to pay for your or passenger hospital bills that are injured while driving.
4. Personal Effects Coverage (~$3/day). This is to insure things in your car, in case they get stolen.
The rental car insurance rates can change, but for me, the total for full coverage was about $38/day.
Here’s a tip that could save you time and money: you may already have coverage for rental cars!
A lot of credit cards out there include some rental car insurance as a benefit if you reserve/pay for the rental car with your credit card. Also, if you have car insurance plans, they may also cover rental vehicles (though you’d have to pay a deductible to make a claim). Both items are automatic benefits of using their services, but are usually hidden in fine-print in the brochures/packages the credit card companies/insurance companies sent you when you got your card or insurance. If you have doubts, just call your customer support line and ask! Ask for someone who can tell you more about the extent of your rental car coverage, because the first person you talk to probably won’t know the full details.
As for Personal Accident Insurance, your health insurance or auto insurance may already cover it.
As for Personal Effects Coverage, I suggest you be smart and not leave valuables visible in your car in the first place. Thieves love to target rental vehicles parked in isolated spots, like parking lots at hiking spots.
If you’re not covered, just buy rental car insurance.
In the unlikely scenario that your own car insurance or credit card doesn’t provide coverage, then just get coverage from the rental car company. You will definitely need Loss Damage Waiver insurance. Don’t be a cheapskate. Someone getting out of their car can dent your door, a thief could break your window to steal your change jar or a drunk driver leaving Waikiki could side-swipe your car. You don’t want to see the actual bill if any of those things happen.
Weekly rental car rates are cheaper.
Rental cars rates are like Costco: they’re cheaper when you buy in bulk. You can play around with the online car rental quotes to check this if you don’t believe me. For Enterprise, if you reserve for 6 days or more, you will see a dramatic drop in rental rates.
Here’s a quick example quote I got from Enterprise.com. I did a quote for 3 days and then I did a quote for 6 days. Starting date, car class, rental location, pickup time are the same for both.
3 day rental = $52.99/day
1 week rental (6 days) = $44.16/day
Different branches = difference prices (for Enterprise)
Enterprise branches operate independently from one another. Rates are flexible at each branch because the branch managers need to maximize bookings for slow times like weekends and non-peak tourist seasons. Because of this, you will find vastly different rates from branch to branch. So play around with your Enterprise quotes a little.
Note: Airport branches have additional airport surcharges tacked on to your bill.
Here are 3 different examples. All are the same, except I changed the branch location:
Honolulu Airport = $30.39/day, but an extra $7/day in Airport surcharges
Seaside Branch = $62.99/day
Busy season = higher rates.
This is simple supply and demand: when things are getting booked left and right, companies need to increase prices to maximize profit. When business is slow, companies need to lower prices in order to encourage the thriftier folks out there to spend and make use of idle inventory. This not only applies to car rentals, but also hotel prices and airfare (as a side bonus, non-busy season means shorter lines for tourist attractions!).
When is busy season/peak tourist times in Hawaii?
Late March to mid April => Spring Break
Late week of April => “Golden Week” for Japanese Tourists
June to August => Summer Vacation
Mid December to early January => Christmas and New Year’s
And when is the best time to visit?
I personally like May or October. The weather is generally pleasant and those months are outside of the rainy season.
Think About Overnight Parking Costs
If you plan to hold a vehicle overnight, you will need to park it somewhere. If you’re staying in a hotel, they’ll have overnight parking rates for you, however, they won’t necessarily be cheap, especially if you’re parking in a prime spot like Waikiki!
I have a lot of parking solutions, but my best one is to get a pass from the Banyan Waikiki. It’s located in the center of Waikiki. They have a public parking structure with amaaaazing overnight rates:
24 hour parking: $15
1 week parking: $80
Confirmed: September 5th 2013.
However, know that with such a killer low rate, parking might not always be available.
I hope you found this article helpful, be sure to share it with your friends on your social network! And be sure to comment below about your own thoughts, experiences, and helpful advice renting cars for cheap in Hawaii!