7 Hawaii Car Rental Money Saving Ideas

maui rental car

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:

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:

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?

  1. Great advice!

    Another tip: you can reserve most rental cars without a credit card. Grab the best deal now and if you find a better deal later, you can cancel without penalty. 😉

  2. The GPS is a lifesaver when driving in Honolulu. It’s not easy to try to read the street name (especially at night) to decide whether it’s Kapiolani or Kapahulu. On the other islands, it seems easier to drive because the cities are much smaller.

    On the other hand, the GPS’s pronounciation of Hawaiian names can be a hoot.

  3. Great tip about the GPS, especially in Honolulu (lots of one-way streets) and up country Maui. I’ve used Discount Hawaii Car Rentals now for the past 5 years and have ALWAYS gotten the lowest prices on the best cars, and with GREAT service too!!! You can’t lose. Mahalo for making it so easy to rent cars in Hawaii.

  4. Just booked through Costco.com. I had no idea they did rental cars and by far got the best deal around. Only $28 a day for an suv. Thanks for the tip.

  5. Hi, I see that Waikiki Parc offers complimentary parking. Do you know of other hotels on Oahu that offer this benefit?

    The Royal Hawaiian’s supposedly free parking is actually paid for with the daily resort fee.


    1. Not to my knowledge, but fees and parking policies are always changing in Waikiki.

      Since Sheraton Waikiki, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani and the Moana Surfrider are all Starwoods properties like the Royal Hawaiian, you might want to check to see if they have a similar policy of parking included in the resort fee.

      Also, check out this post that’s periodically updated with free and low cost Waikiki parking: https://www.govisithawaii.com/2007/11/13/finding-reasonable-parking-in-waikiki/

  6. Thank you SOOOOO much for the tip on Discount Hawaii Car Rental. I was in despair about having to pay almost $1000 for a rental car when I waited too long to book. I was able to save over $600 by using Discount Hawaii, even incredibly last minute!

  7. Question about additional drivers. We are picking up the car as we are the first family arriving in Honolulu. If one of the other additional drivers is coming on a later flight, will they need to go back to car rental and show any ID?

  8. I’ve read that there are car rental companies at HNL that are “On Airport” and some that are “Off Airport”. Does it make a big difference? Should I only be looking to book through companies that are “On Airport”?

    1. I’m not certain what “on airport” or “off airport” means. Most rental car companies have their rental center about 5 minute shuttle ride from the airport. There is no charge for the shuttle.

  9. Great article!
    Just wondering, do you think that collision damage waiver is necessary? It would be my first time renting a vehicle so I do want all necessary protection but I don’t understand how that works.

    1. We’re not experts in rental car insurance so we shouldn’t be giving advice. Perhaps a good place to start is for you to contact your current car insurance agent to find out what coverage you might already have for rental cars. He/she might also be able to advise you on any additional protection you might need.

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