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Rental car prices ease slightly, but still far more expensive than before the pandemic

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Posted at 11:00 AM, Feb 13, 2023

If you're planning a spring break trip with family or already looking ahead to a summer vacation, you're likely feeling the cost crunch of inflation with that travel.

NerdWallet found prices for rental cars peaked in 2021 as they were down 5 percent in December 2022 compared to 12 months earlier.

But prices were still 36 percent higher in December compared to the same time in 2019.

“Car rental companies realized that they could charge this much for their car rentals and even though prices have dropped a little bit, they are still far higher, and they're one of the biggest price increases of any sector that we track,” said travel expert Sally French.

She recommends booking with a company that doesn't make you pay in advance. She also says not to wait to book.

“Make that reservation, lock in that rate, and continuously come back and check, and you might see that prices go down, and it is actually very common for car rental prices to go down,” French said.

If the price drops, you can rebook and cancel your old reservation.

She also says to check for discounts. She says many people don't realize they're part of a corporate discount program for rental cars through their work.

You may also get a deal by being a Costco or AAA member.

She says the cost to join these membership programs can be worth it with just the car rental savings alone.