Save Lots of Money on Rental Cars With Priceline

Part 1 – Bidding on Rental Cars
Part 2 – Bidding on Hotels
Part 3 – Bidding on Airfare


I love using Priceline for car rentals.  Priceline advertises that you can save up to 40% with Name Your Own Price.  With my strategy I routinely save 50% and more.  I have gotten a Toyota Prius in Kentucky for $10 per day, a compact in Tahoe for $12 per day, and SUVs in Hawaii for $15 per day.  A friend of mine used my strategy to get a convertible in Hawaii for $20 per day.  I’ve yet to find a cheaper way to rent a car. 

If you have never used Priceline before, using it for car rentals is a great place to get your feet wet. Mainly because rule #1 (bidding blind) is not that big of a deal with car rentals.  When you bid on a rental car with Priceline your car will come from one of these five national brands: Alamo, Avis, National, Hertz, or Budget. My guess is if you are reading this you probably don’t care which brand you get your car from.  I know I don’t.  So, if your bid is accepted you know it will come from a reputable brand that is either onsite at the airport or a quick shuttle ride away.

Let me start by summarizing my strategy and then I will take you through it step by step.  I make a rental car reservation with a rate I am comfortable paying and then one to two weeks before my trip I bid on Priceline and then cancel my previous reservation after a successful bid.  My strategy works because of two things.  First, car rental reservations can be cancelled at any time.  Second, a rental company would rather let a car go for next to nothing then let it sit on their lot not earning revenue.

Step 1:  Make a reservation

For this step any online travel agency will do, just make sure the reservation can be canceled at the last minute without penalty.  If you are a Costco member, Costco travel usually has pretty good deals.

I like to have this reservation as a back up plan in case my bid is not accepted.  The only time I have not had a bid accepted was when I went to Phoenix to watch Oregon play in the BCS National Championship game.  I think every rental car in town was taken.  Fortunately, I had made a reservation a few months prior so I did not have to pay last minute rack rates, which can be pretty high during peak travel.

Once I have made the reservation I don’t do anything until about one to two weeks before my travel dates.

Step 2: Set your ceiling

Before I bid on a car the first thing I do is check the rates on various websites, such as Travelocity, Expedia, Costco, Hotwire, Autoslash, etc…I do this so I have an idea of what my ceiling is before biding.  Obviously I am not going to bid more than a lower price on a different website.

Let’s imagine that you are visiting Portland the week 1/21/13.  After scanning various websites I found the best rate was on Travelocity for about $14.50 per day for a mid-size/intermediate car.


This is a pretty good rate but not great since it is the low season here in Portland.  I make a mental note of this price and head on over to Priceline.

Step 3: Make a bid

On Priceline’s landing page you will want to click on the bid now button just below the car logo on the bottom right.


This will bring up a pop up window for you to fill in your information.


In the pop up window fill in your information and your bid amount.  I always start with half my ceiling or $10 whichever is lowest (I put in $1.00 because I don’t actually want to rent a car).  Why?  I intentionally want my first bid to be really low, because Priceline will make a suggested bid that I find is also a helpful benchmark.  And if the low bid is accepted even better.


I then adjust my initial bid to half the suggested Priceline bid amount.  I’ve found over the years that for last minute bids half this price is usually not far off the mark.

After you submit your bid a confirmation page will appear.   Here you fill in your traveler information and credit card information.


After you fill in your information at the bottom of the screen is the “buy my rental car now” button.  Press the button to see if your bid was accepted, remembering rules 3 and 4 (instant billing, non-refundable).


If it is accepted you will be billed automatically and your rental is non-refundable.  Priceline will also tell you which of the five companies accepted your offer.  And remember to go back and cancel the car reservation you have been holding as a back up.

Now, lets go over what to do if your bid is rejected.

Step 4: Bid again if rejected

Priceline limits your bids to one per 24 hours.  But this restriction is limited to redoing the exact bid.  The easy way around this is to bid on different sized cars.  My strategy for rental cars is to first bid on the smallest car I can get by with and then if my bid is rejected, I make another bid on the next size up increasing my bid by a dollar.

Taking the week of the 21st for example the suggested bid amount from Priceline was $17 for a midsize car.  Accordingly, my first bid for a midsize car would be $8.  If that is rejected I would then bid on an intermediate for $9, if that is rejected I would bid on a full size for $10, etc…  I stop bidding after a bid on an SUV is rejected.  If I go through that progression and all bids are rejected then I try again in 24 hours starting at midsize but adding $1 to all my previous bids.


I keep repeating this pattern until an offer is accepted or I reach my ceiling.

Now, every once in awhile when I do this progression, Priceline will make me an offer. Whenever I ever get that screen I take the offer.  It is almost always lower than my ceiling and when I turn it down I have yet to beat the offer, so if you see that (sorry I don’t have a picture of that screen), take the offer if it is lower than your ceiling (and I promise it will be).

Like I said before, I have had great success with this strategy and so have my friends.  Only one time did I go through this progression and hit my ceiling.  99% of the time this works and the rate is better then anywhere else online.

Good luck, happy bidding, and If you have any questions on bidding for rental cars feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.

If you find this information helpful, please consider using my Priceline link for making your reservation.  Thank you.

Save up to 40% on Rental Cars

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252 thoughts on “Save Lots of Money on Rental Cars With Priceline

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    • If you have not already done so, read Part 3: Bidding on Airfare for tips.

      Bidding on airfare is tricky. You will save the most money with Priceline when you can maximize your leverage in high supply low demand situations. For car rentals and hotels that usually translates in last minute bookings; 1-2 weeks before reaching your destination. Prior to the great recession the same was true with airfare when flying on an empty plane was not uncommon. I remember taking flights on planes with entire rows of empty seats. You could move around on the plane with ease and stretch out on an entire row and take a nap. Those days are gone and probably not coming back. The recession forced airlines to cut routes and fill planes to capacity. Consequently, there just aren’t many empty seats to be bidding on last minute. Instead of the sweet spot being last minute on airfare it may have moved back to 60 days before departure when airfare on average is at it’s lowest. Not sure what type of time frame you are looking at but if you are more than 60 days out you may want to wait until you reach that window and try again. If you email me the route and dates I can snoop around and see what the fare looks like.

  5. Hello! If my bid is accepted will they only charge me the total price of the rental or is there a “deposit” amount they will withhold?

  6. Hi! Thank you for this very helpful info! One question, what about bidding if you need to have your spouse as a second driver? Our trip will be a long one and we’ll need to take turns driving. I know some of the above mentioned companies offer free second driver if spouse, but what if they don’t? Has this happened to you? I saw Hertz offers a second driver with the Gold club card, but will they accept that on top of Priceline? I guess should we estimate the $10 per day for a second driver just in case we have to pay it? Also I thought I noticed that Priceline only gives you cars from the Airport locations? Is it true Airports have high fees added on? Or will the fee I bid for be the full price including any airport fees? Thank you for your help!!!

    • Great questions. If you need a spouse as a second driver I would just assume you will have to pay the extra $10 per day. However, as you pointed out some of the rental car companies will allow you to add a driver for free if you join their frequent renter program. You should be able to use this bonus on top of the great rate you get from priceline. After your bid is accepted you just need to call up the rental agency and add your membership number to the reservation. Check out this link, , to see a list of member benefits for each major rental car company.

      It is true that there is an extra fee with renting form the airport but the savings you get from using Priceline, especially with the method I have explained above will more than off set the extra fee.

      • I disagree that it’s always worth it, I just “won” a $10/day for 6 day rental at MCO airport. Add PL tax/fees and it came to $115….not bad. Tack on Budget’s tax, state tax, airport recovery fees, etc and basic insurance (even though I had my own company admitted I could be on the hook for Budget’s $100/day ‘downtime’ charge for while cars are repaired/can’t be rented out) and it was well over $200….so $10 was really $35/day

        • I can’t say I have had that experience. I’ve never had to pay more than what Priceline says the final price will be including taxes, which they tell you before you confirm your bid.

          • rented from avis in Detroit for $26 but when I returned the car avis charged me $159 extra because I returned the car early. Had to call avis corp and they took off the extra charge which was just a scam

  7. Hi Scott,
    I just happened to find your article while looking for bidding forums. Your information was great and is very easy to follow. I have been using Priceline for years to book hotels and consider myself almost a pro as for as hotels go. 🙂 I travel often for sports tournaments for my kids so the other moms and I compete to see who can get the best rate for the tournament. That being said I never looked into the rental car bidding but with your tips I cannot wait to try it! I do have a question about additional charges for a damage waiver. Do you have to purchase them when you pick up the car and do you think they are necessary? How much do they costs? Also, how much is the additional fee for picking up your car at an airport?

    • Jay, I’m glad you found the information helpful and thanks for the positive feedback. As to your questions, I never pay for the accident coverage when I rent a car. My credit card provides damage protection for rental cars. I suspect yours does too but you may want to double check.

      There usually is an additional fee for renting from an airport but it varies by airport. I’ve found that the money I save with my strategy more than makes up for it.

  8. Hi Scott, thanks for the article, very helpful. One question: I’m heading to Florida for a week in late September and I’m wondering if you think it is always best to wait last minute to get the best deals on Priceline for cars or if I should start trying to bid now.

    • Chris, glad you found the article helpful. I suppose it does not hurt to try this far out but my experience is you get better results last minute. I think if you follow advice in article you should score a good deal.

  9. Thanks so much!! I couldn’t find any rates under $40/day for a weeklong rental in Duluth, MN even using my fed govt discount and every coupon code ever published–but using your advice I was able to get one for $290 for the whole week. I bid twice (first $10/day then $13) before Priceline offered me a deal for $27/day. It saved me over $150!! This has literally changed the way I’ll travel in the future. Thanks again.

    • Thanks for the wonderful comment. I’m glad you found it helpful. I remember the first time I booked a rental with this method. I had a similar holy cow kind of moment. It feels sort of liberating.

  10. Great well laid out article and follow up advice to inquiries… Straight forward and clear..
    Hoping you might be able to help me. I need to rent a mini van (lots of gear to haul) from the Las Vegas airport staring 10 September 2013 for 38 days. Would like to use your system but am limited by the fact Priceline appears to restrict the rental period to only 28 days. Any suggestions/advice would be much appreciated. Thanks….

    • Unfortunately I do not know a work around for the 28 day cap. I suppose you could trying making two reservations and then see if rental company would combine the reservations. Most rental agencies have a long term rentals so you should call them directly for pricing. Take a look at Costco travel too. Good luck.

  11. Thanks for this article. I’m a frugal traveler but have always been apprehensive about using Priceline. Now, thanks to you, I will give it a try!

  12. hi!
    great advice! One quick question, the process of changing to pick up and drop off times while not changing the car type seems to not be letting me bid within 24 hrs and I still get a duplicate bid notice. Any idea why? thanks!
    we do not rent much and will have two kids in car seats and a small stroller and 2 suitcases and a diaper bag so figure we need a full size, unless you have other advice.

    • To rebid you need to change the car type. A full size will give you plenty of room. If you had to you could even go one size down to an intermediate.

  13. Loved this clear advice and was set to do for two week trip including MT and WY from Seattle (SEA). But fortunately realized before bidding -from other research -that for some reason DOLLAR at SEA limits area cars can be driven in to WA, No CA, part of ID. And since Priceline includes DOLLAR (which is coming up cheapest on other sites) in its stable, I cannot risk “buying” from DOLLAR via priceline and being out a lot of money for car I cannot drive on my route.
    Just a warning. Other companies I considered w/ SEA locations did not limit other than to continental USA.

    • That is interesting, thanks for the heads up. Are you sure Dollar is one of the rental car agencies priceline will book you with? You may want to double check. Unless things have changed I believe the rental car company will be either Alamo, Avis, Budget, Hertz, or National. Also Priceline should be providing you with the terms and conditions of your rental car contract upfront, so double check that as well before bidding. Good luck.

    • When and where are you trying to book a rental? If it is at a time when there is high demand for rental cars you may strike out with my bidding strategy. It works best in high supply low demand situations. And are you bidding last minute? That is also important. If the reservation is a month or so away you may not get the response you are looking for.

  14. After reading your advice, I booked a car for $20/day in Lake Tahoe which was 73% off their lowest price….AMAZING! You’re the best. I appreciate the helpful step by step advice. I bid 10 days out from my rental pick up date.

  15. I’m a first time priceline bidder. I’m two weeks away from a trip to New Orleans, and Priceline has offered me $47/day + fees after my bids of $14-17. So I’ll wait a few days and try again. Your article has been totally helpful on how to do this! Thanks!

  16. I used your suggestions when booking a car in Hawaii. Reserved, then kept checking, reserve, cancel, etc. Eventually got a car for $11 per day, from the original reservation of $31 per day. Loved it!!

  17. I have never bid on Priceline before and I found your advice to be very helpful. However, I do not understand the significance is of going through the sequence of bidding $1 higher on larger autos….so that 24 hrs later you can bid again on the initial vehicle. Also, if I bid now (3 weeks before my trip) and my bid is rejected….and I wait another 1-2 weeks before rebidding….do I still have to bid $1 higher than my initial bid? I hope this makes sense.

    • The increase of a dollar for larger autos is just a bidding strategy I use. I know that larger cars cost more so I start at smallest size I can live with and then work my way through the progression increasing each bid a dollar. If I’m unsuccessful I start again 24 hours later but starting a dollar more than where I started he previous day. So I bid $10 on a compact on day one then I would start at $11 on a compact on day two go through the progression again until I get something or reach my ceiling. You can try bidding three weeks ahead but I would wait another week.

  18. Great info…quick question… what happens if I need to extend my rental for a day? Will I pay my price line daily rate or the daily rack rate? The only reason I am asking is that when looking at rates, if I had a drop off time 6 hours late the daily rate changed dramatically…

    • David, what you may be seeing with the price difference is that the extension is getting you the weekend rate which is typically a lower daily rate. That is not really going to be an issue with bidding. Since the goal of my strategy is to take advantage of last minute prices. But you may want to use the longer rental as your back up since it sounds cheaper.

  19. Scott, here is scenario…pickup Tuesday Dec. 3 at 10 in the morning and drop off Saturday Dec 7 at noon, hotwire rate is $14 per day for full size….if the drop off goes to 6 pm on Saturday the rate jumps to almost $24 per day. Should I do the early dropoff time and show up 6 hours late? Or tell them when I go pickup car on Tuesday that my dropoff time changed? Just curious to your strategy? Thanks again!

    • I would rent the car for time that you need. I would also not use Hotwire. The difference in price tells me that there is a lot of wiggle room in that price and I think you will have good success with bidding on Priceline. Take a look at Costco or AAA for rental rate that can be canceled as a back up and then start bidding on Priceline 7 to 10 before departure. Good luck.

    • It all depends on demand. Given that you are going to a cold weather destination you should not have a problem. I suspect you will be able to get a pretty cheap rental car with my bidding strategy on Priceline. Make sure to have that backup reservation that you can cancel just in case. I like to use for my back up reservation. They have good rates and can be canceled last minute.

    • It works really well. The I only reason I didn’t suggest it in main article is because it may be too last minute for most and 1-2 weeks out works pretty good too.

  20. I have another question. Are the taxes/fees based on the base price? I’m bidding for Honolulu and the taxes seem really steep so it’s a bit of a concern for me. Thank you!

    • Great question. I do think a percentage of the taxes are based on the base price. However, there are also some flat fees as well. These taxes and fees are going to a part of any car reservation at HNL, they are not unique to PL. If you have a back up reservation your goal is to do better than the back up.

  21. Thanks for the article – helpful. In my experience it looked like the bidding super low to get a suggest amount as a benchmark, didn’t seem to work. It simply took me at my bid and rejected the offer. May want to edit article accordingly THanks, Ryan

  22. Your article was SO helpful – thanks for laying it out in such a clear way. Especially helpful was the identification of an optimal timeframe for bidding. I followed your advice and it worked great!

  23. Hi Scott, I recently sold my car, so I am uninsured. This will be my first time bidding as well as never having auto insurance.

    Bodily injury, med expenses are my big concern. I will be using my Master Card, but the small print has made me crazy. Any other ideas to stay safe?

    What kind of insurance should I buy?

    Kind thanks! Tracey 🙂

  24. Pingback: What To Do When Renting a Car and You Don’t Have Car Insurance? | Portland Travel Tips

  25. Hi Scott, I’m bidding for a rental car thru priceline, Las Vegas airport. On the bidding form it says something about “Collision Damage Insurance will be offered immediately after purchase.” and then it says “Be sure to add coverage to enjoy these valuable benefits: Provides Primary Coverage, Includes cost of repairs, Cancel with 100% refund ” I have heard complaints that people bidding thru priceline find out at the counter that they have additional charges. My question is this. Does this mean that at the counter that these extra items will be charged? Thanks DJ

    • I have never been charged more at the counter, but I also turn done any request by Priceline to add extras. I’m usually asked again at the counter about adding extras but I decline those as well. If you say no to those things you should not be charged more.

  26. Never used Priceline before. Great tutorial that saved me 77% over the going rate and I accepted the suggested rate b/c my trip is in 10 days. Thanks for your help !!!

  27. I have a question I don’t see addressed in previous posts: I am considering renting a car at PDX (Portland) for 2 weeks and want to drop it off in California. The rates are just awful which will probably result in me not bidding at all, but do you have hints for one way rentals?

    I have used Priceline for hoels many times and am confident in my bidding process and used PL once for a car rental. I got a really great rate and then called them because I had a $40 off coupon and they let me use that on top of the great rate.

    My last car rental in Portland, OR they didn’t have the midsized SUV I had contracted for and tried to pass off a Juke. It was fun to drive…if you are a very tiny person, which I’m not. When checking it in I was asked how I liked it and said it was fun to drive but in no way did it compare to a midsize SUV, and the manager knocked 50% off my bill.

    Great article you have put out there! Thanks.

    • Unfortunately, you cannot bid on one way car rentals. Double unfortunately, one way car rentals are very expensive. I find I get the best car rental rack rates on Costco Travel. I would look there if you are a member. What’s your itinerary? I might be able to give you some creative advice on how to save a few bucks. Is a one way car rental must?

      • Luckily, I’m not tied in to any definite plans yet. It started out as a drive from Central Ca to Oregon with the idea of renting an apt for a month and doing some antiquing and exploring the state. It has changed to more likely 2 weeks in OR, but flexible. I am not a marathon road warrior – the max I can drive is about 4 hrs a day and once I get to OR I don’t want to drive more then about 2 to 2 1/2 in a day. My idea now is (if I don’t fly one way, which is looking too expensive with the one way car rental, which would allow me more flexibility and to cart any treasures I find home) probably to go up the coast, spend 5-7 days in the Lincoln City area; head North and drive across the top of OR to Hood River for 2 nights and then South. I had thought about a week in Bend but have been talked out of it. I’m not physically active (I’m old) and limited walking ability so a lot of what I’m doing is sightseeing; not hiking or other physically demanding activities. I have a friend for the drive up (probably first 3 days) then will be on my own. I was in OR in Oct for a week and mostly saw I-5 which is not what I want to see this trip. I think I’m back to my original idea of driving but maybe only booking one place to settle down in and winging it the rest of the time. I had fabulous bidding for OR in Oct on rooms – mostly lucked into extended stays which I would like on this trip also. Read some of your other information and will probably want to visit Sisters, as well. I am a frugal traveler overall. Any other charming towns I should see? (figure I will spend one or two nights from Lincoln City to Hood River on the road also. Might do an overnight in Portland for shopping but not sure.) I have friends in Grants Pass I can stay with a night or two also.

        Thanks for any help.

  28. @Linda Highway 101 is a stunning drive and very worthwhile. It takes some time especially if you are only driving a couple of hours a day. Lincoln City is a great home base on the coast. Hood River for a couple of days is also a great idea. When you come across to Hood River make sure you get off I-84 in Troutdale and take the Historic Columbia River Highway. Stop and look at the waterfalls and enjoy the drive. It is beautiful. Coming back through Central Oregon is also a great idea. If you can make it up to Crater Lake it would be worth your while. If you don’t want to put the miles on your own car you could try pricelining a car from your home airport and driving it up to Oregon and back. Sounds like you have a great trip in mind. Email me if you have any questions.

    • Thanks. I read your article about driving to Hood River and I really enjoyed it. I will look into the car rental from home but nearly resigned to taking my own car at this point. I might try a really low Priceline bid on the one way rental just for the heck of it but then I better be prepared to fly up there one way. Might be too many variables. Besides, if I take my own car I can have more flexibility coming home. Any other inland areas, besides Sisters, you recommend? Is Sisters a good overnight?

    • Oh…forgot – I would love to see Crater Lake but it sounds like the roads won’t be open in April or early May and I have no desire to drive in snow. Otherwise, good idea.

  29. Unfortunately, I read your great article a day after I booked on Priceline. I did not use the “bid now” option. So now I have a reservation. My trip is two weeks out. I got a price of $512 at the Key West airport. I didn’t think it was a bad price for spring break week.
    It’s a Standard SUV Ford Edge or similar
    Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 9:30 AM
    Friday, March 28, 2014 at 11:00 AM
    Do you think I can do better? Can I even try your technique if I have a reservation already booked?

    • If you did not use Pricline’s name your own price (i.e. bid now) function then you should have a cancelable reservation and you can still use my bidding strategy. Read the details of your reservation and double check that you can cancel the reservation without penalty. Are you a costco member? I checked costco for the days you mentioned and they have a standard SUV for $397. That is an extremely good price. If you can cancel the reservation you have now, I would do so and book the Costco reservation. You can then give the bidding strategy a shot a week before your trip (again assuming the Costco reservation can also be canceled, always double check before bidding). My suspicion is that because demand will be pretty high that week that you may not be able to beat Costco’s price, but it is always worth a shot. Good luck.

  30. BTW, huge kudos for publishing this article. Also huge kudos for keeping up with the many posts that you have responded to. Thanks so much!

  31. hi, i am going to ohio, in june 20-30. I start the biding at 5 but it wont let me, than i bid at 8 and it let me and the price is 171, If i put in my credit card information they would take out 171 but if i get rejected are they still going to take out 171.

  32. Ong: They will not charge you if your bid is not accepted. Be careful not to click any boxes for extra services (GPS, etc). Check your credit card you are using and it probably covers some of the car insurance they will try to sell you too.

  33. Scott thanks for your info. My scenario is a bit unusual. I needed to book an SUV in Hawaii for 31 days but Priceline bids limit your booking to max 28 days atatime. So I thought I’d split up the contract and book a vehicle for 15 days. Then book it again for the following 16 days. Well I booked the first half ok for about 22$ a day. But when I attempted to book again using the same method/same vehicle Priceline bumped everything up – now it was recommending me $37 a day. I ran out of bid attempts for the day and will have to wait 24 hrs to retry (ideally would like an SUV for offroad) – but sort of choked to pay that much more for what I got at $22. Any guesses as to what is going on? How can I revisit that earlier successful bid? Appreciate some tips. Thanks

    • I have a few thoughts. First, what priceline recommends is usually way more than what you will end up paying, so I wouldn’t worry too much about the suggested $37 per day price tag. I think if you follow up strategy you should be alright. Second, try clearing out your browser data and see if that makes a difference. You could even try creating a new priceline account with a new email and see if that helps. Finally, I’m not sure how far out you are bidding but I find the sweet spot for bidding on rental cars to be 1-10 days before arrival. I like to start bidding about 10 days out. So if you are trying to bid 2 weeks further out than what you already got for $22 per day you may just be too early to bid on the second two week period. I would reserve a rental with Costco, make sure it is cancelable, and then try bidding about a week before you leave or even bid while you are in Hawaii. Good luck.

  34. Hi Scott
    I’m really struggling with using your Priceline method of saving money on a car rental…we’re looking to rent a car in Kauai for 21 days (April 10-May 1). We’re 10 days out now. My husband has already booked a rental through Discount Hawaii Car Rental .com (DHCR), we’ve used them in the past and usually get great deals, but this time I was hoping to beat it with your Priceline strategy. DHCR is third party agency that finds the best deal for you, you make the reservation and it’s confirmed. It’s all the big name brands, You can cancel at any time, no payment until you show up and free additional driver every time. So the booking he got was 21 days/3 weeks at $135/wk or $19.29/day. “Vehicle: From Thrifty Rent a Car-Compact, Ford Focus 4dr or similar”
    DHCR’s Base Rental: $405.00
    Vehicle License Fee $9.24
    Rntl Vehicle Schg $63.00
    General Excise Tax $17.26
    Total estimated mandatory charges: $494.50

    With the bid your own price on priceline the highest I can bid is $12/day for any car, to match the total cost w/ taxes and fees.
    Priceline’s Summary of Charges
    Your Offer Price:$12.00 (per day)
    Total Rental Days:21
    Taxes and Fees:$244.87
    Total Charges:$496.87

    It seems to me that priceline’s fees are much higher than that of DHCR’s making it not worthwhile to try your priceline strategy. ??? Am I completely off here or missing something? I’d appreciate any feedback if you can

    • Do you know if your rental with DHCR is from an airport location? All of priceline’s rentals are airport locations. Airports charge a surcharge to rental car companies that gets passed on to us. So the fees will be higher with priceline. This is why it is always important to check the final priceline price with the final price of your backup reservation. So good job there. Frankly, $500 for a 3 week rental is a good price so you may not be able to beat it with Priceline. You may be able to get a bigger car than a compact with priceline for not too much more money but if you are happy with the compact I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Bottom line you got a good deal so I wouldn’t sweat it too much. Maybe try Priceline 3-4 days before you arrive and try a really lowball price like $9 or $10 and see what happens.

      • Thanks for the suggestion! I just might try it again then, 3-4 days out. And you’re right, for not much more money we could probably get a bigger car (my personal hope is a SUV). Oh and it is an airport location with the DHCR. Thank you, again!!!

  35. Great post. This is really helpful. Do you know if this works for one-way car rentals also. I just put in a trip from SFO to LAX and it says “Name Your Own Price is not available for the itinerary you requested. The best available rates are shown below.” Do you know of anything I can do to get around this?

  36. Are Priceline bids REALLY unlimited mileage? We need to rent a car for two weeks for a trip from Missouri to New York and Boston and back. It exceeds the usually allowed 1,000/week and we don’t want to pay the .30/mile after the initial allowed mileage.

  37. I just went through the process earlier tonight and made a bid. It’s been a couple hours now. I haven’t received a confirmation email or rejection or anything. Hoe long does it usually take for Priceline to get you a deal??

    • It should be fairly instant. Once you confirm your bid the we browser will go into thinking mode and then after about 30 seconds or so you get a result.

  38. I would NEVER use Priceline for a car. We did and when we got to Orlando airport the Hertz counter had a line two blocks long to pick up cars. We waited for 30 minutes and realized it would take longer to pick up the car than it did to fly to Orlando. We went to a neighboring car rental desk, rented a car (for more) and were on our way in a matter of minutes. Priceline “customer service” reads from a script and refuses to refund our money. I understand the no cancellation/refund policy but effectively Hertz could not provide us with a car. Hertz says they do not get paid unless we pick up the car so Priceline pockets the money and we pay twice. I have disputed the charge but will NEVER use Priceline again. Too many things can happen and their offshore customer service reps are like robots who have absolutely no authority to listen and respond (even the manager)… CRAZY…

    • Am I missing something. You left the hertz line and now wan’t your money back when you never reached the agent to get the car?
      How is it Hertz did not provide you a car when you walked off?
      I’m sorry but any business dealing in advance purchases would laugh at that story. Nowhere in the T&C’s does Priceline guarantee short airport lines..

  39. Holly, I hear you…I won’t use Priceline anymore either. When I booked a hotel room, the Holiday Inn treated me horribly, and told me,”don’t book with Priceline.” I was treated like a second class citizen. No more…. I have found Costco to be a good source for rental cars now btw! 🙂

  40. Hi,
    Lets say i want to rent a car and i make a bid . How long is the bid valid ? or what is the time limit for car rental companies to give a decision on my bid ? thanks for the information. Loved your post.

  41. Hi,

    I’m travelling from Toronto to Tampa (TPA) on May 22, and staying for 25 days. Yesterday, with just 11 days before I depart, I placed a bid as you instructed. The Priceline suggestion was $18/day, so I got brave and bid $7/day knowing it would be rejected – which it was. Here’s the twist; Priceline allowed me to try again for the same car class right away. So I bid $8/day. It was rejected. I hadn’t read about this ‘second chance’, but it was good to see. Today, I tried again and bid $9/day. It was rejected, and I was again given the ‘second chance’. I bid $10/day, and a message came up telling me to ‘bid more than $12/day’ before it would even provide a total. Well, $12/day was my ceiling as Hotwire’s all-in total equals Priceline’s $12/day when all the fees and taxes are taken into account. I backed out of these windows until I was at Priceline’s home page, and started from scratch expecting a notice to pop up telling me to come back in 24 hours. That didn’t happen and I was able to place a $10/day bid, get a total amount with taxes and fees in, and then actually submit the bid. It too was rejected, and the window once again offered to allow me a ‘second chance’, but this time it was insisting I bid at more than $13/day. It wouldn’t take $11/day, $12/day, or $13/day. I had surpassed my ceiling.

    I’ve seen Hotwire jack the daily rate just days before my departure in the past. Is it very likely that Priceline wouldn’t do the same thing? I couldn’t get a car for a better price today, 11 days before departure, than Hotwire was offering. If my $9/day or $10/day bid didn’t work today, in your opinion, is it likely to work a week from now? I just wonder about the logic of waiting to the last week to book a car and assuming that the price will continue to drop. If that were the case, why not just instruct everyone to book their cars 4 or 5 days before departure?

    The rate on Hotwire today is the best I’ve seen in 2 months of daily watching. It’s actually slightly better than the rate I got from them last year at this same time. I’d be curious to hear whether anyone has gotten a significantly better deal booking on Priceline 2 or 3 days before departure than what they’re being offered on the competition’s site. I have never seen a dramatic drop in a Hotwire rate days before my departure. My gut feeling is that regardless of which online booking company one uses, there is an absolute low, daily amount that they all hit and no amount of passing time will make them slash prices in an attempt to fill cars. I’ve watched Hotwire’s daily amount hovering now for three weeks, virtually unchanged. In the past, this is when I would book, and I have never lost money (Ok, not by more than 20 cents a day)

    I guess the real question is this; If I couldn’t save $90, $60, $30 today, 11 days before my departure, bidding $9, $10, $11/day, do you think I could if I waited another week?

    Incidentally, the daily rates on Hotwire as viewed on a PC are higher than the same dates viewed on my iphone. Has anyone else experienced this? Also, I did not bother to book a safety rental as I cannot find a price that’s less than double what Hotwire offers. A bad day on Hotwire is still less than anything else I’ve been able to find.

    • I had a similar experience over the past several days. I got immediate opportunities after being rejected to rebid instantly. However, after several days of gradually increasing my bids, I hit my ceiling and gave up. I can rent the car from Costco travel for cheaper than what they’re trying to rent them on Priceline, and my trip is only a few days away.
      Thanks for the tip on here about Costco Travel! I had not used them or even thought of them before reading this article and the comments!

      • Costco is an awesome resource for rental cars. Thanks to Costco I can’t brag about saving 70% on an all in price anymore. Now it’s usually 30-40%.

    • My suggestion is if you are seeing a $12 per day rate on Hotwire book that. Waiting is not worth the few extra bucks you might save and you don’t want to risk hotwire taking that rate away. I would book it ASAP.

  42. Thanks, Scott. I’ve done just that, and am happy with my rate from Hotwire so far 9 days out.

    I’m always looking to get the best deal and save money, but at some point your sanity has to factor in there. Incidentally, I tried to rent a car from Costco, but couldn’t access the service from the Canadian side of the border. The US site makes it clear that you must be a US citizen.

  43. I have a reserved rental for 8 days 18 hours June 13-22 @ LAX through Costco budget for 182.00 including taxes. Since you have lots of knowledge about rentals, I thought I would ask this question. Costco states in my reservation that taxes are included. I am assuming that I will not have to pay any additional fees, taxes, airport fees, etc. when I pick up my vehicle. I am hoping this price is the price I will only have to pay. I thought this was a pretty good deal considering when I first started searching it was over 350.00 w/tax. Even after I reserved my rental via Costco, the next day the price has went up and I havent seen it come down under 200 yet.
    Do you think this price is pretty good or do you think priceline would beat Costco? I’ll be willing to play around a week before my trip if I could get it even cheaper.
    Thanks for your feedback and tips!

    • In theory you should not pay more. However, with Costco you don’t pay until you are at the counter so be on guard for up selling and pay attention to what you sign. The CSR at the counter is going to try and get you to pay for add ons. If you say no to everything then the price will be what Costco quoted.

      You may be able to beat that price with Priceline but pay attention to the final quote with taxes. That’s the number you will want to see if it comes under Costco. Good luck.

  44. Thanks so much for your quick feedback! I was hoping the price would not be anymore. My understanding is that I need to bring proof of my car insurance which I planned on bringing.
    I’ll check priceline, but I’m pleased that I got the reservations under 200 already!!
    Thanks again!

  45. Hi your info is great. But with car rentals, my flight gets into SEATAC at 1:30 pm and I reserved car for 2;30 to give time for baggage pick up. But what if flight is late? Will they charge me more or xl my reservation? What is your experience with not getting the car within the hour you book it for? Thank you.

  46. Scott, love your suggestions. Gonna give it a try for NYC (LGA) car rental. My question relates to INSURANCE. I’ve read that Priceline offers collision insurance for $11/day but that b/c it’s 3rd party, many rental car companies will not honor it AND that it’s a hassle to deal with 3rd party insurance if actually needed. What are your suggestions, regarding insurance for any damage to the car? This is for my daughter and her husband who don’t have an auto policy that includes a rider for insurance (and auto company suggested to rent through rental car company instead of getting a rider) and they don’t have a credit card that included rental car insurance coverage. Timely, so would appreciate a response as soon as you can. Thanks, Gaynor

    • So I’m answering this from my mobile phone but I have a post on this subject that if you search my site you should find. I’m aware of a couple companies that offer insurance for rental cars that you can buy online. One is protect my bubble, the other is escaping me at the moment. Also take a look at previous comments because I may have a better answer above.

      • Impressed. That was fast, Scott. Thanks! Will scan your posts for related answers. And will look into Protect My Bubble. THANKS! Gaynor

  47. Scott I know you said that you can’t bid on one way rentals, however does that apply for leaving the state only?
    For example, I’m able to bid on a van from LAX to Ontario. So I’m assuming Intra-state airports are allowed?

    • My experience has been you can’t get a one way with name your own price. Although I have never looked for a one way between close airports. I see LAX to SFO does not work so perhaps they just allow for places with a certain number of miles from each other.

  48. Scott,

    Have you been able to use Priceline to win a bid on a Convertible? I am planning on going to San Antonio for a week and am driving from Huntsville, Alabama. Figured for since it is a 14 hour drive, it would be nice to cruise around in a convertible. I saw that Alamo has them in my area but their is no option to choose convertibles thru Priceline. Am I doing something wrong? Great post btw!

  49. Thanks for the info and for so consistently responding to specific questions! Do you have experience using “express deals” instead of bidding on Priceline auto rentals? The express deal is $10/day (for this coming weekend) and it seems too good to be true! Thanks!

  50. Hi, if my age is 24 years old, need I pay the younger driver fee at the counter? The rules of priceline told us (With, you should include these additional fees in your offer price. If your request is accepted, you will not be charged any additional Young Renter Fees at the rental counter.) But I am not sure about this , because this is my first time use bidding rent car. Anyone can give me some experience advice.. thank you so much

    • You will be charged an under 25 fee and that will depend on the company that accepts your bid. Unless you can get a super low bid accepted on Priceline it may not be worth it.

  51. Hi Scott,

    Thanks so much for the strategy info! Forgive me if you’ve already answered this question 100 times, but…how is the “security deposit” handled on your credit card? Is it actually charged and then refunded later, and approximately how much is it?

    Thanks again!

    • I don’t think I’ve ever been charged a security deposit but I have to confess I’ve never paid attention to whether one was charged.

      • That probably means there was a hold on your card, but it was never actually charged…thanks for the quick reply!

  52. Hi Scott!
    I was trying to bid on pl car rental and on the first page I was given an opportunity to apply for a priceline visa credit card and get $50 off. I applied for the credit in which another window has opened for me to put in all my personal jnfo to apply. I got approved and it took me to a window where in you can put your bid. After I click on bid it took me directly to the confirmation page of my bid and itinerary receipt. I called cs and was informed I couldn’t cancel when I explained to them that after I applied for the priceline visa credit card it didn’t give me a choice to review my trip. Any advice? Thanks

  53. Appreciate this article: however, my recent experience trying to bid on a car rental at SLC airport was not as happy. Low bids were all rejected, and the prices that Priceline offered me were as much or more than those available through regular online sites. Maybe Salt Lake is too expensive, or maybe I was trying to get it too late (just a week before).

    • My method does not work as well when demand is high. I have run in to that occasionally when there are big events going on. So if for some reason demand was high in SLC you won’t have as good of luck. This is why I always book a back up a few months prior. Just in case.

  54. Scott,
    Great info! I used your method last year in Oct. on Priceline and my bid was accepted for $7 day for a week @ PBI. Traveling this weekend and for two weeks unable to get lower than 15 and in past 4 days the suggested rate has gone to 20. 19 will not even get accepted. The Avis people who handled my last rental thru Priceline were very helpful and even gave me a free upgrade from compact to mid-size. I was spoiled with the 7 buck deal but may have to settle with higher rate this time.

  55. Yes I was astounded! Have continued to tell others about Priceline and the method because of your articles. Yesterday was able to bid for a standard at a economy price and succeed! Although Avis was kind to upgrade last time for no additional fee I could not take the chance this go around. I needed the larger vehicle.
    From my experience my advice would be to bid at least one category below what you desire. Bid at a ridiculously low rate. If you succeed an upgrade will be offered immediately after for $1 or $2 s more a day. If you don’t succeed then many options are available for more categories.
    It’s a win/win!
    Thank you once again for making your knowledge available to all.

  56. This is so helpful! Thank you! We love Priceline for hotels, but this will be our first time bidding on a rental car. We have a question for the expert:

    Renting a car from 12pm on 8/30 to 9am on 9/8 @ SLC.

    Priceline and other sites have a rate of $222/wk ($428 total) for a Standard SUV with Dollar ($32.11/day +tx etc.). That’s the cheapest SUV rate I’ve found.

    Dollar is not one of the Priceline name your own vendors….and when I started with a bid of $25/day for a standard SUV, they said it was too low and suggested I try bidding $61!!

    In this case, would you just book the Dollar car? $428 for 9 days isn’t terrible….but it would be nice to gt it down to $22-23/day for sure!

    Would love your input! Thank you!!

    • Costco has a standard SUV for $406. If I were you I would go ahead and book either the Costco or Dollar rent a car rate as a back up plan in case low bids are not accepted. Ignore the $61 suggested bid and start at $22 or $23 and see what happens.

      • Thank you, Scott! I booked the Costco car, as that’s actually a much better deal. The Dollar car would have been an additional $90 if we wanted to split up our driving (which is likely), and the Costco rental with Budget automatically waives the extra driver fee. Sweet!

        I’m going to keep plugging in that $23 range, but when factoring in the extra driver, I think we still might come out on top with the Costco rate on this one.

        Thanks again!

  57. Here is my experience. I bid on an intermediate when I was going to Midway Airport. When I got there, I was told that the cars available with reservations through Priceline are basically tiny no-trunk clown cars, but that I could upgrade to a good car for … (I can’t remember the exact amount but it was reasonable so I said yes). This was through Budget Rent-a-car I believe. My sister, at my advice, tried this when we were going to a wedding in St Louis and her car was through Avis. She got the same “priceline reservations will only get you a no-trunk clown car” spiel but the deal that they offered her was nowhere near as good. I felt bad for having steered her to priceline. It wasn’t any great deal for her.

    • My guess is that is a shady rental agent trying to sell you an upgrade. I have always gotten the car I bid on and have usually been upgraded at no charge.

    • If I had to have a specific type of car I wouldn’t do it much differently. I would reserve a minivan that I could cancel and then bid on just a minivan a week before my trip. I wouldn’t expect to save as much because I want a specific type of can though.

  58. I am attending a Navy reunion in Jacksonville, Fl in mid October. I have friends and family I’d like to visit along the eastern seaboard. We fly out of Buffalo, NY October 30. Is there any way to get a good deal through Priceline if the pick up and drop off locations are different? Thanks.

  59. Awesome article, Scott! Question: We are going to Cali for the first time to drive around and up and down the coast, and we wanna do it up right in a convertible! We’re about 2 weeks out, flying into SAN, and it’s showing a suggested bid of $48. I’d like to come in under $20 if it’s possible, but do you think that’s too low? I am not afraid to wait another week or even more, but is it risky to wait TOO long? Also, have you ever heard of winning a bid for, say, a premium car and being able to upgrade to a convertible at the agency and come out cheaper? Tryin’ to check off dreams!

  60. Hello, Am going to try your suggestions to rent from RSW from 10/25 to 11/8. Am I understanding that the bids I offer do not include any taxes/fees, and when my offer is accepted, a total charge will be shown, and that I can still reject that total? Or am I accepting/agreeing to the plus taxes/fees total when I make a base offer, before actually knowing the grand total I will be paying?

        • Priceline does not charge a security deposit. The issue of a security deposit is with the rental car company itself at the counter. If you are using a credit card to rent the car I do not believe you will be charged a security deposit. Instead they will swipe your card and place a hold on your card, that is released once the car is returned. I’ve only ever used a credit card so I have never experienced having to pay an actual security deposit. I suspect this is only an issue with people who use a debit card.

  61. Pingback: Challenge Accepted Costco! Can I beat a car rental price on Costco with Priceline? | Portland Travel Tips

  62. Your post is awesome! I am going to be a first line Priceliner *ha* in about a week.. Need a vehicle for Thanksgiving week and Enterprise is going to charge me $300.. My question is about deposits.. I know they charge the full price if bid is accepted, but Enterprise, locally charges 200 refundable deposit. Does priceline do that?

  63. Thank you so much for your advice. I didn’t follow it to a T with the one dollar increases, but I’m getting a mid-size SUV for four days @ $20 a day! A 68% savings!

  64. Hello! I was really skeptical about priceline, and wanted to do some research and found you! We are going to Orlando, FL in Jan. I just placed a bid for $5 a day for 5 days giving me a total of $66.33. IS this for real??? I feel like there is a catch? or desperate!

      • I doubt you will be successful with a bid on a convertible at $5/day. Make sure you do your research and have a realistic bid, otherwise you are wasting valuable bids. The lowest successful bid I have heard of for a convertible, using this strategy, is $20/day in Hawaii.

        Priceline does not charge a security deposit. The issue of a security deposit is with the rental car company itself at the counter. If you are using a credit card to rent the car I do not believe you will be charged a security deposit. Instead they will swipe your card and place a hold on your card, that is released once the car is returned. I’ve only ever used a credit card so I have never experienced having to pay an actual security deposit. I suspect this is only an issue with people who use a debit card.

  65. Scott: you wrote : “””Priceline will make me an offer. Whenever I ever get that screen I take the offer.”””

    The rate is based on dollar cost PER DAY….BUT does that price include the “Taxes and Fees” ?? if it DOES, I may have missed a decent deal in Orlando/ February….

    Also:: At that same “OFFER” page, in green, I believe the button says “GRAB IT” or “GRAB the DEAL”..whatever….Would I be taken to a confirmation page after clicking that ????

    GREAT Site by the way… !

    • The price does not include taxes. You will be taken to a confirmation page. On that page will be the final price with taxes. Make sure to compare that to your back up reservation.

  66. Pingback: Priceline Hotel Bidding Advance Strategy: Matrix Bidding | Portland Travel Tips

  67. Scott-
    Thank you for a great site and I was just checking Albany Airport for a 5 day rental and see that the Budget I got (from their own site using a coupon) is about 100 dollars more for a compact car than using Priceline.. and this is 3 weeks away so I will wait!

    1) Do you know how much time they give you in terms of returning car late or picking up early if there are weather problems? It it one hour? Or if I make my pick up an hour later than it should come in to cover plane being late, do they charge you if you get it early?

    2) Also, do you know how much the rental card company holds on your cc card as the security deposit? I am not sure if it’s something like 100 dollars or 500 dollars.

    Thanks for such a helpful site and I feel like an idiot for not using this sooner!

    • Billing is based on a 24 hour period. I’m not sure how much the grace period is as it will be based on the rental company not priceline. If you pick up your car earlier I would just have them adjust the time frame at the counter. As for the deposit no security deposit will be charged to your credit card.

      I’m glad you found the site to be helpful, don’t forget to use my priceline link. I appreciate your support.

  68. Hi Scott,

    I will definitely use your link. If I am happy with either an economy or compact size should I still bid for the next few sizes above that too? They offered me 23.00 a day for 2nd week in January for upstate NY (Albany) and I think I can do better. (That was for an economy car). When I went to Budget directly I actually reserved it for 100 more so even 23 is a deal. Is the strategy of going progressively through the larger sizes important to use if I am happy with just compact or economy?

    Also, say the car company they end up giving me is Budget. Would that create a problem since my initial non-paid reservation was with Budget directly? Or do I just cancel the initial Budget reservation once I get the Priceline one?


    • I do the progression up because I am aiming for a larger sized car. If you are happy with a economy or compact car there is no need to do the progression up. But you could give the opposite a try and start from say a midsize and work your way down? Don’t worry if Priceline gives you the same company as your back up, no big deal.

  69. Im going to Texas on January 26 for 20 days. I got on Name your own price on, And I bid for $10 for a mid-size OR Standard SUV, and it just took me to a Summary Of Charges page. The total turned out to be $298 and that is with tax and fees included. Now, this seems a little fake to me. Am I getting the SUV for the total amount and its a done deal. Or how do I know now what happens next if I put my credit card information. It looks like a scam to me. Your information will be so helpful!

    • The page with the summary of charges is showing you what your credit card will be charged if your bid is accepted. You have to input your payment information before making the bid. Your hesitation is probably because the price seems too good to be true, which it is. Costco Travel lists a midsize SUV at $60 per day. Starting around $25-$30 per day might be more realistic. Make a backup reservation now that you can cancel and around 10 days before your trip start bidding on priceline. I would start at $25 per day or half of what Priceline’s suggested bid is or whichever is lower. Good luck. Please use my priceline link if you find this website helpful. I appreciate it.

  70. Hi Scott,

    I just reserved it through your link and saved 140 from my original budget rental and it turns out it was through budget for this one too! I probably could’ve done better in a few days but I was confused as I bid for 17 and I thought it accepted it as it asked for my cc info but then it said none of the rental companies accepted so it offered it to me for I think 24 and I put it in for 22 a day and that went through.. Anyway, I’m happy with this and great site!

  71. We are flying in to LAX in 4 weeks. We don’t NEED a rental bc we have family, but would love a mini van since we have young kids. Is it easier to get a good deal last minute if they have cars available?

  72. Scott – Another THANK YOU. Stumbled upon your blog and just got an Alamo car rental for $12/day thru Priceline at VPS-Ft Walton Beach, FL. Bids of $10 and $11 rejected.

    For those still reading comments … compare to $17 from Hotwire, which was price to beat and $40.57 for Alamo with my large group discount. Other group discount prices were $34 from Dollar, $36 from Avis and $46 from Enterprise.

    So a savings of 70% off group rate! And a more modest but still fantastic 29% off vs Hotwire.

    First time I’ve used Priceline … I’ll be baaaack.

    *Tip for others … Enterprise was offering a $9.99/day weekend rate special (I’m renting Fri-Mon) but at an OFF AIRPORT location (and they won’t come to airport to pick you up). So check Enterprise locations for specials if you don’t need to grab your car at an airport

  73. Thank you for mentioning Costco. Never thought of them. I went there and found a better rate than Hotwire’s lowest. Booked it and did not have to pay in advance. Also, pay attention to the “taxes and fees”. I put in a “lower than Hotwire’s” rate on Priceline, but the Priceline taxes and fees boosted the total amount to the same as Hotwire’s total amount.

    • Costco can have some pretty great deals on rental cars. In fact, on our latest trip to Hawaii I could not beat my costco price using Priceline. That was only the second time I could not get a better rate via Priceline.

  74. After reading this posting, I went ahead and used it to book a rental car. They gave me Budget, and on the confirmation email it says, Mercury Grand Marquis or similar. They haven’t made Mercury’s for years. Do they reserve older, higher mileage vehicles for reservations booked through the Name Your Own Price option? Or do they provide the regular, new models, as well. Can anyone answer through experiences?

    When calling anyone to ask a question, no one is able to answer questions because of the “contractual agreements” signed for while making the reservation. It has been a little frustrating, to be honest.

    • Doing the old “Google”, I see that the last sales of the Mercury Grand Marquis were fleet sales to rental car companies, etc. My experience with Priceline is that the rental car companies claimed that you could only get a no-trunk clown car with Priceline unless you upgraded. Others have had vastly different experiences.

      • Can’t say I have ever had any experience no-trunk clown cars. I usually get upgraded for free. Last rental was with Alamo and we walked to lot to get car and attendant gave us an SUV.

      • When I called Budget, the attendant couldn’t even bring up my reservation because it was made through a third party (Priceline). They told me to call Priceline. When I called Priceline, the non-English speaking attendant, told me he couldn’t help me with any questions, because I had to contact Budget. Such a run around just to ask if they provide “third party” vehicles to “third party” customers.

    • I don’t have experience with Budget. I’m on a solid track record with Alamo accepting my bids. Every car has been nice and well maintained.

      • Update: Would’ve received a Chevy Impala, so no problems there. Budget did offer a deal on an upgrade at the counter, which was great, and I got a Camaro SS for an extra $20/day. Overall, I’d recommend Priceline. Just BE AWARE that once the reservation is booked, there are no cancellations, changes, or any info needed about the reservation. It’s charged and final.

  75. I have a trip to Georgia in April to go to the Masters golf tournament with two of my sons. We need to pick up a car in Atlanta at 2:00 pm Tuesday April 7 and return it at 4:30 pm Saturday April 11. We will have three adults, three golf bags, and luggage. I am thinking of bidding on a standard suv, then a full-size suv, and finally a mini-van (I am assuming the standard suv is the smallest vehicle we can get away with). Do you have any recommendations not already covered in helping us to secure the lowest available price? The lowest I have currently found is $706.12 through Advantage. Even Costco was $871.00 and AAA was $973.00. Also, do you think there is a smaller vehicle than the standard suv that will fit everything we need to travel as much as 90 minutes from the airport? Any help you can give me is much appreciated!!!

    • I think you are probably in for a challenge. My strategy works best with low demand. That being said you have nothing to lose with giving Priceline a try. I definitely would not go smaller than a midsize SUV. If you use my Priceline link it would be more ch appreciated.

    • You rent the car from a major national brand so the car is going to be the typical car you would get from any of the 4 or 5 major brands. Not sure if they are the latest model. They may be a year or two old. Same with the condition. You can expect a clean and working car.

  76. I need a car from DAL airport from 3/21-3/23. And I’m 23 years old. What is the lowest, realistic price to bid? Any size car is acceptable.

    • When you are under 25, rental car companies will generally charge you a daily surcharge of about $25 per day. When you rent a car through priceline and you are under 25 the under 25 fee that you will be charged depends on which company accepts your bid. That could get expensive. If you are a member of USAA you can rent a car through them and not pay the under 25 fee. If you are not a member of USAA I would shop around and see if you can get a deal where the fee is waived. There is no way to waive the fee with Priceline.

      If you cannot find a deal to waive the fee then give Priceline a try with the method I have outlined, but be aware that you will be charged at least an extra $25 per day (it may be more depending on company) on top of your winning bid.

      • I’ve been shopping around, but I have no idea how to get the fee waived. How is that possible?
        (where do you recommend I “shop around)

        Thank you so much for your help!

        • Also, I’m finding these “Express Deal”s on priceline, only when I shop from my phone. They are as low as $11/day, but the website won’t process my order because it says I haven’t entered my age. (I have, I think it’s just not working because I clicked that I’m under the age of 25.)

          Should I just say that I am 25 to book it and then pay the fee when I pick up the car and they notice that I am not actually 25 years old?
          With a $25/day Young renter fee, that would still be a heck of a deal at $36/day. Or are they likely to be angry that I “lied” and throw some more fees in there or even deny me?

          • I would definitely advise against being dishonest when applying for the rental. You don’t want to run the risk of them refusing to rent a car to you. By shopping around I meant, calling companies in your destination and asking if they have any promotions waiving the 25 under fee. I did find this online, It is an old code but it may still be active, it could be worth a shot. Alternatively, you could do the express deal or bid on priceline and just know you will pay the fee but are still getting a good deal compared to pay rack rates plus the under 25 fee. If you do Priceline, please use my link. It is much appreciated. Good Luck.

  77. Thanks for the extremely helpful info in your article, it really works! I understand that extra insurance coverage is unnecessary but would you recommend purchasing extra roadside assistance, or is it unnecessary too? I’ll have the rental through enterprise for almost 3 weeks driving across 3 states on vacation. Thanks for your insights and help!

    • I would check with your car insurance company to see if they offer roadside assistance. I would also check with your credit card company that you are using to pay for your rental car because depending on the card they may also offer roadside assistance. Lastly, if you are not a member of AAA, join. My guess is that a year long membership is going to be cheaper than what the rental company will charge you for 3 weeks of roadside assistance.

  78. Thanks for this helpful information! Quick question, how far in advance should I make the initial back-up reservation to get the best rate? Our vacation starts at the beginning of a holiday weekend. We are going in October of this year. Is it too early? Thanks in advance!

    • It is never too early because you can always cancel and rebook if you find a lower rate for your back up reservation. If I book a back up really far in advance I’ll check every couple of weeks and cancel and rebook if I find a lower rate.

  79. thanks for the article, I can’t wait to try it. Thank you also for mentioning Costco as we dont have one of those around here but we do have a SAM’s club which is the same as Costco and I didn’t realize that we could get discounted rates through them. When I checked Sam’s it was 255 for a midsize SUV for 9 days which when I was just practicing on a bid through priceline it was 252 so I may even get a better deal through priceline when it gets closer to the time we are leaving but just in case I can book the one from Sam’s first and then cancel if need be.
    can’t wait to see if I can get any cheaper than 252.

    • Glad to hear you found a good back up reservation. Hopefully, you will be able to beat that on Priceline. When the time comes, using my Priceline link to support this blog would be much appreciated. Good luck!

  80. such an informative article for us newbies! I’d love your input…we are going to hawaii beginning of may and will be staying until the beginning of june. We are looking into getting a rental for 3-4 weeks. Is the demand for rental cars in Hawaii pretty high during the month of May? In your experience, do you think I could get a decent priceline rate? Also, when booking for longer periods of time (3-4 weeks) do you typically get a better deal than just booking for one week? Anxious to try it out if you think it might save me some money. Oh, and what do you think a good bid would be for honolulu around that time, economy/compact size? Right now over 3 weeks out I am finding (through costco and hotwire) $27/day….Thanks so much!

    • If my memory serves me correctly, I believe you can Priceline a car for 28 days. I think chances you can do better than the rack rate but my gut tells me you probably won’t get as steep of a discount as others have reported. For an economy in Hawaii I would usually start bidding with $10 and work my way up. You may want to start higher at $15. Thank you in advance if you use my link to support this blog. Good luck.

  81. I got the name your own price bid @ 16$ for a hertz economy car. That was 3 weeks ago. My total was 211.22, with 99$ for taxes and fees.

    I looked today at the lowest rate for an economy car with Hertz on priceline (not name your own price). The price was 22$ a day, it said taxes and fees were 89$.

    Why am I paying more in taxes and fees for my 16$ rate???????

    I should be paying no more than 65$ in taxes in fees, when you adjust the charges.

  82. When booking through Priceline and paying the accepted offer, does the rental car company still place a hold on your credit/debit card once you go pick it up?

    • Yes, they will swipe your credit card but assuming no additional fees are incurred (additional driver, damage, etc) you will not be charged.

  83. Does the amount I bid per day include taxes and fees? In other words, am I telling Priceline that my bid is the most they can charge me per day if they accept my offer?

    • It does not include taxes and fees. PL will show you the final price before confirming your bid. It’s that final number you want to compare to your back up reservation.

  84. awesome article scott really appreciate your post on the matter, never tried it this method but got a trip to the DC area and nyc week long in the works so have hit the internet for planning.

    I was wondering if the method above works in this situation if I win the bid for a compact, midsize or even full size, at my comfortable price, would I be able to get to the rental counter and ask for an upgrade for a full suv such as a chevy suburban and pay $10 – $20 extra per day?

    my ultimate intent is to get the chevy suburban or similar for 8 people we actually have 12 people so might be getting two rentals, or do you think its better to get a 15 pass van, not much room for price discounts if we get a 15 pass van since limited places would have them in my opinion but would like your thoughts on it.

    Im aware how the rental sales men work on commission and that things like upgrades and the damage waiver are what they try to target to sell anyway. So I assume it would work anyways but just wanted your thoughts on it?

    I know this would work under normal conditions had i just made a reservation then ask for the upgrade because my buddies do it when they go to vegas by booking a minivan then at the counter ask for the suburban for extra $10 per day, and works just fine, and they dont use priceline bidding just normal travel sites.

  85. So i picked an SUV for 4days which is usually $109/a day but the total is about $55, because i bid $7/ a day. So When i go to pick up the vehicle they wont charge me more right?

    • You got an SUV that was a rack rate of $109/day for $7/day? Holy smokes, nice work. I think that is a Portland Travel Tips reader record! Congrats. They will try to add on the usual stuff like offer an upgrade and the insurance stuff. But if you decline all the usual upselling you will only pay what priceline charged you. Keep in mind though that the car rental will take your credit card and swipe it but that is for charges related to not filling up the tank, etc…

  86. I actually discovered the Priceline “Name Your Own Price” link for car rentals just a couple of days ago. I have been trying it out, just to see how it works, then I decided to look online to see if there were any reviews or opinions regarding it and I came across this site, which is very informative. I need to arrange transportation in the Ft. Myers, FL area at the end of January for a few days and have the option of renting a car or using limo service….public transit in SW Florida is awful. Thanks so much for explaining how this works. I now have much more confidence when I decide to really make a serious bid for a car.

  87. I just did a car name your price and haven’t received any notification. Can u help me with what happened? I truly lossed. I gave my card information but I haven’t heard either way.
    Thank you

    • If you look at the second to last picture in the post you will the screen where you have to type your initials and click “buy my rental car”. Once you click the button you will go to a screen where you wait and see if the bid was accepted. If it is accepted or rejected you are then taken to another screen and told weather your bid was accepted or rejected. You may want to double check and make sure your credit card wasn’t billed (if it was it means your bid was accepted). Assuming your credit card was not charged I would try again.

  88. Hi Scott.

    I could use your advice.

    I’m about to rent my first rental car from Oakland Airport in March (afternoon of 2nd to evening of the 9th). I wanted to try your bidding strategy. The current bids are going for $20/day for economy cars (I tried $15 and was rejected). I looked around at other sites and couldn’t find any particularly good deals for a back-up option.

    It is early still, so I’m guessing I can get a cheaper bid closer to my rental date, assuming it isn’t a high demand period. Is there any way for me to tell if that is going to be a particularly high rental season? I don’t want to end up paying more at the last minute, if I can get $20/day now.


    • I think it is too early to get a great deal from Priceline. Are you a Costco member? They are a great option for rental cars and can be canceled last minute. I would do Costco now and then see what shakes out with last minute bidding. If you aren’t a Costco member reserve the lowest rate you can find now that will let you cancel and then wait to do a last minute bid sometime around the first of March or last week of February.

  89. Thanks for the info! Quick ? After Priceline accepts your bid and takes payment does the accepting rental car agency still hold or charge your credit card within their policy guidelines? For instance some hold your credit card the balance of rental plus 15%

    • They will still take your card and run it but assuming you return it full, in one piece, and decline all insurance, etc. you will not be charged more than what you paid on PL

  90. Hi there, how long does it take to receive notification from priceline? I clicked on “buy my rental car now” and it took me back to the beginning page where you choose between rental car, flight, and hotel bidding.

    • You should go to a page where there is an animation that says something about negotiating your trip or something. Then after a minute or so you get your result.

    • Yes. Your now the second person to ask me about nothing happening after clicking purchase button. I wonder if the are having some glitch. I would try again. If it keeps happening maybe try giving them a call and ask what’s up.

  91. Hello,

    Yesterday when ı was searching about priceline bidding we found your writings about it.
    And I’d like to kindly ask you about priceline bidding.
    We’ll be at SFO 25 June and we’d like to rent a car from airport for 4 days(drop is 29th june). But prices are so expensive.
    Yesterday we bid for 17 and 18 $ /day it wasnt accepted for economy and compact cars.
    So how could we do that with your strategy, could you please help us?
    We read your writings but we couldnt understand it exactly because of our English is not enough I think to get understand.
    So because I’d like to write you abput ask for helping us with examples maybe ?
    Thank you!

    Looking forward for your answer back 🙂

  92. Ok if my card is charged and its a debit card will the deposit be taken off to and what if i go to pick it up and a round trip flight itinerary is required and i dont have one then what should i do when my card already been charged

    • I don’t think I am understanding your question. I’ve never heard of a rental company requiring a roundtrip flight to rent a car.

  93. For underage (25 below) drivers, I’m guessing those nasty underage surcharge fees would be added to the final… Do you think it’d be possible to waive those off the base charge by bringing USAA membership (or some other card/membership) to the counter?

  94. Hello, I’m curious about my low bid being too low. I bid on a luxury car for $4 a day and it got accepted. I’m worried it’s too low or something will happen? Should I just take the low price? Will this change what type of car I get?

    • Did you really have a bid accepted for a luxury car at $4? or are you worried about it being accepted at that low of a price? If you had it accepted at $4 I would dance the happy dance, that is amazing. So long as the rental company has a luxury car on the lot you should be good to go. If you have concerns, try giving Priceline a call and pick their brain. I have never head a problem with a rental company meeting the obligations of my bid. Thus far I have not received feedback from any readers having a problem either.

      • I’ve commented in the past that I’ve had issues with car rental companies refusing to deliver as promised – Avis was one, in St Louis, and I believe that Economy was the other – in Chicago. They both claimed that they could only deliver a car with no trunk – basically a clown car – for people that purchased through Priceline, and that you had to upgrade in order to get any reasonable car. Both experiences were 3 years ago or longer. Since then I haven’t had issues, though I always make sure that I bring the phone # of the Better Business Bureau and I’m all stoked to start reading the riot act about bait-and-switch business practices. I’m always delighted when Hertz is the company that accepts my bids, because they’re the best, in my experience.

  95. When I used the ‘name your price’ option to book a car a year ago, I found out that by disclosing that you are under the age of 25 when submitting your bid (this is done by checking the little box that says ‘under 25’ or something similar), the company that accepts your bid cannot charge you the underage fee after accepting the bid.
    I confirmed this by calling and speaking with priceline several times (to get a consistent answer). I had slight push back from the lady at the counter when it came time to pick up the car, but once she could tell I was knowledgeable on the subject she relented and I was not charged.

    The theory is that the company knows you are underage when they agree on your price, so contractually, they can’t change it. Of course, I had to raise my bid a bit to get it accepted, but it was still very cheap compared to the cost of I had been charged the fee.

  96. Pingback: Miles and Points Recap: Free Marriott Points, Southwest Sale, Wells Fargo Propel, Priceline and More! - Miles For Family

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