Next week I’m
off to Phoenix to escape the horrible Edmonton weather and for another
appointment with my Mexico dentist (search the radio stories for ‘dentist’).
Since most of
this happened by 6 AM this morning, and it’s fresh in my mind, I wanted to
share some big savings insights. But heads up that my definition of savings is
where you have to buy something and get it cheaper, such as a flight or hotel
(because you do need to sleep somewhere). Savings is not for golf. Yes, I’m going to golf but it’s
spending less and not savings because I don’t have to golf!
needed to go on a specific day. But the cheapest flight was $500 – which is
insane and double what it should be. So I used 12,500 of my Aeroplan points and
just paid $120 taxes. That’s a real saving of $380 and THE best way to use your
points. The return flight was $140 and that I paid myself as it wouldn’t make
sense to use up points on a flight that cheap.
found a 3 star for $38 in Tempe and a 3 star for $40 in Scottsdale. So I
clicked at hotwire.com on the Tempe one and great news: Hotwire has now started
showing any so-called resort fees before you book! This hotel has a $10 rip-off
fee per night! So changed to the Scottsdale one and saved myself $56.
need three things from the U.S. for my business. One order for seminar supplies
was going to cost $46 Fedex to Canada plus brokerage fee plus customs and duty
for $70 total. Instead, I’m having it sent to my Phoenix hotel with free
shipping. The same for two Amazon orders. One was going to be $14 and the other
$22 shipping to Canada. Again, shipping it to the hotel is free and saving me
$36. That’s $128 US
Every city in Canada and the U.S. has big fees added to a car rental at the
airport. In Edmonton it’s some kind of improvement levy, in Phoenix is a stadium
tax and two other ones. That way politicians can get free money from tourists
who don’t complain and not tax locals who might not vote for them anymore. So I
rent from the closest city location that is not at the airport. For this trip,
I’ve reserved a compact car for $202 total – yes, it’s way too expensive. But
an airport rental right now is $280. I’m ahead $78 less an Uber of $10 to get
the few miles to the location. I also keep checking for price reductions every
day before I leave. If it drops, I re-book it – and have done it twice to get
from $240 down to the current $202.
That’s a $380
Can$ saving plus $252 US$ in real savings for a total of $715. THAT is some
real big money for maybe two hours of internet searches.
Hurray! At the end of the month I get to go to Winnipeg! But I needed a reasonably priced car rental. One of the places I normally shop is hotwire.com which has a “price drop alert” and will email you when prices drop. Since it was $51 for the smallest of small cars – that’s what I did. Sorry, Winnipeg but at the end of October there isn’t a massive wave of tourists wanting to come to Portage & Main to pay that much for a one-day rental…
In total, hotwire sent me six price drop alerts for around $39. On one of them I clicked through to book that within 30 seconds of the email alert receipt. Nope…the least expensive one was still $51…and didn’t change the entire two weeks of looking.
So it’s pretty obvious that the hotwire alerts are somewhere between useless and simply marketing to give them an excuse to email you. For the entire two weeks, priceline.com was $5 cheaper anyway and today (October 13th) their price for the same compact car on the same day was $29 versus the hotwire $48.
Sad but true: Skip hotwire on car rentals and on any so-called price alerts. I’m going to miss them because I’ve dealt with them quite a bit over the past number of years. And, sadly, their media relations department chose not to reply to my inquiries for comment.
George Boelcke – Money Tools & Rules book – yourmoneybook.com
If you’re flying anywhere, it’s probably a fair guess that most people rent a vehicle at least once a year or so. For me, it’s more like 15 times.
If you’re ever on one of the car rental sites, you’ll see a new category: Pay now or pay later. You now have the option of pre-paying at the time you reserve it. It’ll give you a 5 to10% discount. But, and it’s a big but: I’ve rented a vehicle 11 times in the last three months. In EVERY case, the rental rates dropped between my first reservation and the week prior to my trip.
All I did was cancel my reservation and make a new one at the lower rate. You can’t do that if you’ve prepaid with no refund or cancellation option. It would have cost me roughly $350 extra to pre-pay, instead of a saving.
If you’re close to the rental date, it might make sense. A month or two out, you’re likely way better off re-shopping over pre-paying! The best example was when I was in Kelowna last month. I had made a reservation with one of the Kelowna airport national chains. The rate was $48 base rate. The week before I re-checked at Hotwire.com I could get it for $26 a day. When I booked and paid it, the confirmation was for the same company I had booked direct with! What a rip off! Hotels and car rental places say come to our website directly for guaranteed lowest rates. Big fat lie! Even with the hotwire markup, it was almost 50% cheaper through a third party and not their site! Be careful when comparison shopping!