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Preview: Best Deals on Rental Cars in Orlando for Rest of 2011
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 the following to find the best car deals:
- Let’s first look at economy cars. As it turns out, Alamo and Dollar locations at the airport are the two least expensive choices for every week throughout the remainder of this year except for holiday weekends. So your best strategy may be to start by checking out Alamo (Codes: AD4538JCD and 7014139) and Dollar (Code: KISS2) at the airport. (Note: The discount and coupon codes for Alamo have to be entered at the same time in order to get the discount. Also, be aware that you won’t see the complete discount until you’re almost done booking on the Alamo website.) For holiday weekends, check out Budget (Code: W810011).
- For midsize cars, the airport location of Dollar (Code: KISS2) provides good value in June, August and December, while the airport location of Alamo (Codes: AD438JDC and 7014139) wins out in September, October and November. Going on the July 4 holiday weekend? Check out Budget at the airport for the best rate (Code: W810011).
- Looking at minivans? The airport location of Dollar (Code: Kiss 2) will do right by you in June, August, September and October. However, if you’re going on either the summer or winter holiday weekends, call the Enterprise at the Royal Plaza DTD, which can save you, for example, over $600 vs. Budget over Christmas.
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. However, if you’re planning on renting around Downtown Disney, factor in a $52 cab ride each way from the airport for family of four. (Orlando’s public bus service, Lynx, is $2 a person from the airport to Downtown Disney, but you also have to factor in a long walk—a mile to the farthest car rental place.)
If you’re staying at a hotel with a car-rental office, it doesn’t hurt to call and ask about specials for guests. But in general, the airport is a pretty good deal, unless you’re looking at minivans for the holidays.
What have your car rental experiences been like? What are your tips?