Car Rental Discounts and Information
If you have decided that you need a car for your Walt Disney World vacation, we want to give you a list of some of the best car rental discounts available in addition to information to help you save on your car rental.
Orlando Car Rental Companies
Orlando is the largest rental car market in the world, with most of the major car rental companies located on-airport, without the need for a shuttle bus to pick up your rental car. The rental car companies are located on the A-Side and B-Side of the Terminal on the Ground Transportation Level (Level 1).
Orlando International Airport offers airline check-in services on level “R1” of the parking garages where rental cars are returned. The “A” Garage location is located on the west end and the “B” Garage location is on the east end (i.e. the ends nearest the entrance ramps).
Off-airport car rental companies are just as numerous and offer courtesy shuttles from and to the airport.
What You Should Know Before Renting
When reserving a car be aware that when you are quoted a “base rental car rate” it does not include rental coverages, sales taxes, airport taxes, airport/concession, vehicle license fees and miscellaneous surcharges that could boost the rate you are quoted an average of 25% or more. The following is a list of possible additional charges.
- Additional Driver fee: If both spouses are planning on driving a rental car or any other qualified driver, you will need to pay this fee
- Airport Surcharges: Airport authorities impose this fee for airport use even when rental car companies shuttle you to an off-airport site.
- Drop-off fees: Refers to charges some rental companies impose for dropping a car off at a different location from where it was picked up.
- Fuel charge: see Fuel Charges below
- Mileage fees: A cents-per-mile charge or a flat fee when a driver exceeds the allotted free mileage cap.
- Taxes, City/Airport/Rental Company Charges
- Underage Driver fee: These fees are applied when a driver is under the age of 25.
- Out-of-State Charge: A fee applied when a vehicle is driven out of the state in which it was rented.
Car Rental Options
- Car Seat Rental: Visit the official Florida DMV site to see the laws regarding children that must be restrained when riding in a car. Most car companies do have car seats available for rent. Make sure you do this in advance.
- Insurance: Before opting for any kind of insurance, contact your insurance agent, credit card companies (especially on Gold & Platinum cards), and even your homeowner’s insurance to see if your current policies or contracts covers them. BEFORE leaving home find out what coverage you have. Some car insurance companies cover your personal liability should you be involved in an accident. Don’t pay for double insurances, but make sure you buy coverage with your car rental if needed.
- Fuel Charges: Often, renters are given a choice between paying for a full tank of gas in advance and bringing the car back empty (which eliminates the need to make gas station stops on the way to the airport) or refilling the tank themselves within a short distance of the airport. If you don’t think you will use a full tank of gas and will be remaining mainly on WDW property, you probably shouldn’t pay for gas you may not use in advance. Need to locate gas stations near MCO and check their pricing? Check Gas Buddy
- Florida Toll Passes: Most major rental car companies now offer their customers the option of including tolls with the credit card used to rent the vehicle. Visit www.sunpass.com for more information on the toll pass. Paying any toll services fees can be completely avoided by carrying a handful of quarters when you rent your car. Please note that many entrance and exit toll collections are unmanned and exact change is necessary.
Getting the Best Deals
Now that you understand the basics and all of the fees and charges that may apply to your car rental, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of saving money and finding the best deals.
If flexibility can be built into your advance planning, rent in the off season when rates are cheaper. Also, opt for making your initial rental on the weekend, specifically over Saturday, and reserve your rental car for an entire week. Most car rental deals will include a Saturday overnight keep to qualify for the discount. Weekly rates tend to be better than daily rates, with seven days sometimes yielding the best price. Five days should be the minimum whenever possible. Also, if you’ve been charged a “weekly” rate, don’t assume you can save money by returning your car early. If you fall below the minimum days for the rate, you can be charged a fee and have your rate default to regular daily rates. Weekend rates of 1 to 3 days also beat daily rates. A Saturday night keep is also involved and a penalty or default to daily rate can occur if the car is returned late.
Rent Without Fear
There is no need to wait until the last minute to reserve a rental car. If you find a deal you like months before you travel, book it! And don’t be afraid to change your reservation to take advantage of any last minute specials that may become available. Car rental companies seldom charge cancellation or change fees except on pre-paid rentals. Use this to your advantage, even after you have reserved a car keep looking! If something better comes along take it. Just be sure to know your existing cancellation policies and whether advance notice must be given. Also make sure the rates you are comparing show all applicable fees and restrictions such as unlimited mileage.
Last Minute Specials
Last minute specials sometimes offer great deals, but are often more restrictive and more common at off-peak travel times. Generally, last minute deals are released two weeks prior to expiration and are based on how many vehicles remain available on a specific car rental lot. Alamo, National, Hertz, Dollar and Budget offer last minute deals and discounts on their websites.
Frequent Renter Programs
Join car rental “frequent renter” programs, such as Alamo Insiders for Alamo or Emerald Club for National. These programs offer great benefits, even to one-time renters! Most offer extra discounts and periodic specials on rentals. Signing up can also save a lot of hassle at the airport, allowing members to by-pass lines at the counters. You’ll have to give the car rental your information in advance such as drivers license and credit card, but you’ll also be able to select insurance options too, which can ensure that there are no misunderstandings at the counter. Learn more about specific frequent renter programs on our specific car rental discount pages (listed above).
Discounts for Specific Groups
Next search out discounts and be prepared with promotional and company codes. Check the web sites of any Credit Cards, Auto Clubs (AAA, CAA), Discount Clubs including Sam’s Club and Costco, Hotel Rewards, Rewards Programs, and Frequent Flyer Programs you may belong to. This is pretty easy to do using Google. Just sit down and prepare a list of all that you belong to (some examples are given above). Use the name + “car rental discount” in your search.
Safeguarding Your Great Deal
One final word about car rentals. Once you find a good deal and book your rental, if your reservation was made online, be sure to print your confirmation page or save an email and make you and take it with you. Those making reservations by phone can request that a confirmation be emailed on faxed. If any disagreement about price, options or any other aspect of your reservation should arise at the rental counter, your confirmation can help settle the dispute quickly and easily.
Other Helpful Information
Airport – Walt Disney World Resort Routes. Know your route ahead of time and have change ready for toll booths. Almost any route taken to Walt Disney World will encounter toll roads in the Orlando area. Walt Disney World property is conveniently located off of all major roadways including Interstate 4 (exit #68), SR-417 (Greenway), and US-192 (Irlo Bronson Highway / Vine Street).
Use this handy toll calculator to calculate tolls along your route.
Most rental car agencies accept only major credit cards and do NOT accept debit cards or cash. If the car agency accepts debit cards, there are additional requirements and/or location restrictions. Alamo accepts debit cards with the Visa or Mastercard logo and a Round trip air ticket, but restricts certain locations. Dollar requires an acceptable credit check with debit cards.
International drivers may be required to possess an international driver’s permit in addition to their regular license.
Anyone who has filled the tank of a rental car at the station located just outside the car rental zone of a major airport knows that you pay top dollar for gas. Most companies require that you bring the car back with the gas tank on full. TheMouseForLess veterans have reported using the Speedway gas stations located on WDW property to fill their tanks before returning to the airport with no problems. One Speedway station is located at Downtown Disney and another in the area of Disney’s Hollywood Studios just before the Boardwalk Inn entrance. A third Speedway station is located on the right side of World Drive as you exit the Magic Kingdom. Speedway gas stations offer very competitive gas rates with Disney veterans reporting getting excellent prices.
Groceries & Supplies
For more information about grocery stores in the Walt Disney World area click here.
Everything Else About Driving
For information on saving money on gas, Florida driving laws, Walt Disney World parking, Walt Disney World road maps and exits, and other issues relating to driving visit our Transportation Driving Page.