Whether its a convertible cruising by the seaside or a minivan chauffeuring visiting guests, rental cars are convenient, fun, and in some cases absolutely essential. Before you rent a car for your vacation or travel within Switzerland, check out these simple tips which can help you get more car for less.
1. Compare offers
Sticking with one rental car company may be convenient, but all agencies regularly run special deals and catching these offers can save you a lot of money. Before making a reservation, always check offers from all rental companies to make sure you are getting the best deal. In addition to browsing the individual websites of rental companies, you can also use travel portals to compare offers.
2. Make full use of credit card discounts
Big car rental companies like Avis, Hertz, Europcar, Budget and Sixt generally require you to provide credit card information in place of a deposit.
Since you need to use a credit card anyway, you should know that many Swiss credit cards entitle you to big discounts on rentals from partner car rental companies. Discounts can be as high as 25%, and depending on the card you use, you may also get rental car insurance coverage. You can find all of these discounts in the moneyland.ch guide to credit card car rental savings.
3. Claim automobile club membership discounts
If you drive regularly, chances are you may be part of an auto club like TCS, ACS or VCS. For example, as a TCS member, you get 10% off the lowest available price at Hertz. You also get 10% off normal car rentals from Avis in Switzerland, and 20% off panel vans. TCS members also get a 12% discount on official rates at Budget. ACS members get up to 30% of standard rental rates at Sixt for rentals in Switzerland, and up to 15% off standard rates for prepaid holiday rentals. As a VCS member, you get 20% off car rentals from Hertz in Switzerland – or 5% to 10% if the price is already discounted. Plus, VCS members get a discount of up to 10% for Hertz rentals within Europe. VCS members also get up to 15% off going rates on panel van rentals from Sixt.
4. Consider joining loyalty programs
Although it generally isn’t advisable to stick with just one car rental company, if you find yourself using just one or two companies most of the time, getting loyalty program membership can help you save money. This is especially true if you rent cars many times every year. For example, membership in the “Funway” program from Europcar costs 35 francs annually, but entitles you to discounts of up to 30% on car rentals in Switzerland and 15% for international rentals.
5. Look for online booking deals
Booking prepaid car rentals online is becoming increasingly popular. Because having customers handle their own bookings allows rental agencies to employ less staff, car rental companies actively promote online bookings – and offer discounts to match. Europcar discounts prices by up to 25% when you book online.
6. Book and pay for car rentals early
Booking and paying for car rentals well ahead of time has long been one of the best ways to score good discounts. Having customers book and pay early helps rental companies to avoid cancellations and the resulting loss of income. In exchange for the peace of mind, car rental companies offer sizeable discounts to customers who pay in advance. Sixt, for example, discounts rates by 10% when you pay 10 days in advance and by 25% when you pay at least 25 days in advance.
7. Take advantage of student discounts
Many students cannot yet afford to own a car, so discounts on car rentals for students make a lot of sense. In Switzerland, you can get a 20% discount on Hertz car rentals by using a StuCard debit card to pay (30% off Monday and Friday panel van rentals). Sixt lists discounted rental cars to students (student ID is required) and Hertz offers student discounts of 15% on rental cars to 20% on panel vans. If you frequently travel to the United States you should note that an International Student Identity Card entitles you to a 20% discount on Alamo car rentals in the U.S. and Canada.
8. Consider local car rental companies
If you will be renting a car during a vacation outside of Switzerland, check out the rates offered by local rental car companies at you destination. In many cases the rates they offer will be lower than those offered by “big-name” international rental car companies, and it’s easy to find local rental car providers online.
If you do not use credit cards, it’s worth noting that many smaller car rental companies do not require a credit card for rentals. Just note that, in the event of an accident, sorting out insurance formalities with a foreign company can be more complicated and less convenient than sorting out legalities with a Swiss agency.
9. Check out car sharing offers
Swiss vehicle owners sometimes list available cars on classifieds websites or bulletins, often at rental rates well below those of rental car companies. Car sharing or peer-to-peer car rental portals like Sharoo (Switzerland), Drivy (Germany, Austria) and Amovens (Spain) make renting vehicles directly from private car owners easy. Prices are often lower than those you get at car rental companies, although collection and drop-off of private vehicles is generally less convenient.
10. Check for coupon deals
Coupon websites like Gutschein.ch and Deindeal provide an easy way to find current deals on rental cars, including rental car experiences (super car rentals, for example). Coupons are generally a hit and miss setup, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to look.
11. Look into trade union membership discounts
Many Swiss trade unions, associations and employers have partnerships with rental car companies which entitle members or employees to discounts on vehicle rentals. For example, members of the trade union Personalverband des Bundes (Association du personnel de la Confédération) benefit from up to 20% off Hertz car rentals. Members of the Föderation Schweizer Psychologinnen und Psychologen (Fédération Suisse des Psychologues) also get a 20% discount at Hertz.