Once you’ve planned your flights to Hawaii, then you’ve got to figure the logistics of getting around. Each island has some public transportation, but for the most part, they’re not designed to help tourists get around. So, most likely, you’re going to need a rental car for part or all of your vacation. You won’t have to spend a fortune on car rental if you use these 7 tips to help you save money on your car rental.
1. Determine if you need a rental car for your stay.
At first glance, that may sound like a silly idea, but you may not need a rental car at all. There are a couple of Hawaii vacation scenarios I can think of that will allow you to skip renting a car altogether. For example, if you are staying in Waikiki Beach, you can get away with not renting a car at all. And, when you don’t rent a car, you don’t have to pay for parking and gas. These two posts will help you determine if you need a rental car on your Hawaii vacation:
- Do I need a rental car if I stay in Waikiki Beach?
- Will You Need A Rental Car in Hawaii? (From Oahu, Maui, Kauai to the Big Island – Where a Rental Car is a Must.)
2. Rent the smallest car to suit your needs.
Not only will the car rental cost less, but you’ll also save money on gas, which is good for your wallet and the environment. We’ve rented convertibles and Jeeps in Hawaii and they were kind of fun, but in our experience, they were not really worth the extra money. In addition, we discovered that Jeeps and convertibles are more likely to carry some unwanted “passengers” in Hawaii. We’ve had just as much fun in the economy cars as the fancier cars.
3. Use self-parking and avoid using valet services.
Valets can be a convenience, especially at your resort check-in, but depending on the number of times you use the service, fees and tips can add up. After one of our our rental car was damaged by the Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch and Crab valet service in Honolulu in 2007, we’ve vowed to avoid valets when possible. That valet service ended up costing us an additional $250 that we didn’t bargain for.
4. Bring your own GPS.
A GPS navigation system can really be a stress-saver on your Hawaii vacation. You could also use a navigation app on your mobile phone. (Andy and I are convinced that our GPS navigation system has saved our marriage. 🙂 ) The rental car companies will charge you $9.95 or more per day plus tax.
5. Snag a discount.
It’s not too difficult to find discounts if you know where to look. Here are some ideas for getting the lowest rental prices:
- Use the bidding sites like Priceline.com and Hotwire.com. I’ve had friends that have gotten outstanding deals that way — like less than $20/day.
- Check your memberships for rental car discounts. For example, my alumni association passes along a rental car discount code.
- If you are a Costco, Sams Club, or BJs Warehouse member, definitely check their rates. I’ve gotten some great deals over the years through those memberships. Sometimes they’ll even add an extra perk like one extra driver at no additional cost. Our Costco membership has practically paid for itself from the rental car discounts alone.
- Before I share this next idea, I want to disclose that this company advertises on GoVisitHawaii.com. I check rates with Discount Hawaii Car Rental. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t know how they do it, but sometimes they seem to come up with the lowest rates to suit my personal preference.
6. Keep your belongings and your rental car safe.
Avoid getting some unwanted and unexpected car damage with these strategies:
- Beware of falling coconuts, e.g., don’t park under palm trees.
- Make sure you are aware of Hawaii’s forbidden roads before you drive into a potentially dangerous situation.
- Never, never, ever leave anything valuable in your car. See A Friendly Reminder: Plan Ahead & Protect Your Valuables
7. Don’t wait until the last minute to book your car.
Depending on when you visit Hawaii, demand for rental cars can be high. How high? Well, sometimes rental cars are completely sold out. See my article: Planning a Trip to Hawaii? Book Your Rental Car Early!
Bonus: Since originally writing this post, a reader shared a tip for saving money simply by rechecking the rental car rates. See the details of why you should check and recheck rental car rates for potential savings.
What other tips have you used to save money on your Hawaii vacation car rental?