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If you take a look at the taxes and other fees you’re billed when you rent a car at an airport, you might wonder whether a better deal might be available offsite, where many of the extra charges do not apply. In cities such as Las Vegas, for example, rentals are often less expensive at some of the larger hotels, which generally have at least one full-service office of a national brand on-site. Our research team set out to determine whether similar deals could be found in the Orlando market off airport property.
As in past years, we began by obtaining quotes from the Web sites of all the car rental companies in the Orlando airport-for economy cars, midsize vehicles, and minivans-for Saturday-to-Saturday one-week rentals during every month from June through December, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. We also got quotes for companies located near the airport, at major hotels around International Drive, and on Disney property-more than 300 quotes in all. To get the very best prices, we also used car-rental discount codes available at MouseSavers.com.
Although there are more than two dozen combinations of car rental companies and locations around Walt Disney World, our research indicates you’ll only need to look at three to find the best car deals:
1) Start with Dollar.com at the Orlando airport (MCO) using discount code KISS2. Dollar’s airport location has the cheapest prices about 2/3rds of the time.
2) Next, check Enterprise.com prices at their airport location (no discount code needed). You’ll have to take an airport shuttle to get to Enterprise but it may be worth as much as $150 in savings to do so. Enterprise has had the cheapest rates for Thanksgiving and Christmas over the past couple of years.
3) If getting the absolute rock-bottom price is critical, check NationalCarRental.com‘s Walt Disney World Dolphin location with discount code 5000304. During the July 4 and Columbus Day holidays their economy car and minivan prices can be $180 less than the best airport prices. Even factoring in $100 for a round-trip cab ride it’s still the best deal around.
Except for certain holidays (see above), renting a car at the Orlando airport is always cheaper for than offsite locations. Most likely, competition among on-site agencies keeps prices at the airport low-it’s difficult to charge significantly more than a competitor when that competitor is 20 feet away and smiling at your customers! Off-site car rental locations, on the other hand, typically have little nearby competition, so they can charge higher rates.
For families, whatever markdowns may be available off-site may not be worth the cab fare and hassle of shuttling kids and luggage back and forth. But if you’re staying at a hotel with a car-rental office, it doesn’t hurt to call and ask about specials for guests.