Clark’s #1 tip to avoid being stranded by overbooked car rental reservations

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Clark’s #1 tip to avoid being stranded by overbooked car rental reservations
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When you make a car rental reservation, you expect there to be a vehicle available when you arrive at the rental counter — but some travelers have found that’s not always the case.

Just like airlines and hotels, car rental companies routinely overbook because there are so many no-shows.

Read more: Do I need car rental insurance?

Clark’s tip to avoid hassles at the car rental counter

Although this is a problem most people don’t typically think about, Clark says it could be getting worse because rental car companies are keeping vehicles on the road longer and buying fewer new vehicles.

On the radio show, Clark explained that this industry is in a world of hurt for two reasons:

  1. Competition from Uber and Lyft: Regular business customers are choosing to rely on ridesharing companies instead of renting a car.
  2. Oversupply of used cars: Rental car companies aren’t getting what they used to for the cars they’re selling.

During a recent trip to Houston, Clark said he showed up to the rental counter to find dozens of people waiting around for a car, but there were only three vehicles in the parking lot.

This is a travel nightmare Clark thinks you will see more of due to the challenges rental car companies are facing.

Here’s how Clark ended up getting one of those three cars. He had signed up for his car rental company’s free loyalty program and took advantage of online check-in to jump the line. He joined the loyalty programs for the major brands and recommends that you do the same:

  1. Hertz Gold Plus Rewards
  2. Budget Fastbreak
  3. Enterprise Plus
  4. Avis Preferred
  5. Alamo Insiders
  6. National Emerald Club
  7. Dollar Express

Listen: Clark explains his strategy on The Clark Howard Show Podcast

Read more: How to get a $5 car rental

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Mike Timmermann About the author:
Michael Timmermann paid off his mortgage in two years. Now, he shares his money-saving tips on his blog, Save on Almost Everything.
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