Priceline’s Name Your Own Price service can be a great way to save money on hotels and flights, but I tend to use it the most on car rentals. I’m not a huge fan of using it for flights because I’m particular about which airlines I fly and when the flights are. For hotels, I like that I can pick a quality level (4+ stars for example), but still get annoyed that I can’t pick the exact location I want to be in. However, with rental cars, I think they have just the right formula!
Priceline guarantees that a rental will come from one of the “Big 5” rental companies so that you can be sure that you’ll get a reliable car and good service. That means your rental will come from Hertz, Avis, National, Budget, or Alamo. To me, that’s a big positive for the service because it would definitely be easier for Priceline to pick a car from Dollar, Thrifty, or some other budget rental company. Being assured that I’ll get a newer car that’s been taken care of (for a rental car) means a lot to me. You can also select the class of car that you want, which means you know exactly what you’re getting – unlike with flights or a hotel room.
In my experience, I’ve been able to save a lot compared with going directly through the rental companies. According to Priceline, the Name Your Own Price service can save up you up to 40% on car rentals and I can verify that. Obviously the more time you have the more time you’ll have to “negotiate,” but even trying to book a car last minute can result in 20% savings in my experience. As a tip, remember that the price you enter is per day without taxes! Also, make sure to use a credit card that offers good rental car insurance so that you don’t have to worry about paying for it at the counter.
Priceline will warn you if it thinks you’ve entered a price that’s too low. It’ll offer you suggestions on what has a “good” chance of getting approved and what has a “great” chance. I usually put a very low number to start so that I can see what they think has a good chance. Upon review, I usually bid a few dollars less than that. I’ve had good success with the method and I’ve, on occasion, been able to save 40% or sometimes more. Priceline also shows you recently successful bids to give you an idea of what other people are doing.
For car rentals, I think Priceline is a sure bet when it comes to bidding. You don’t have to give much up in terms of selection and it offers sizable savings.