PBI/FLL Car Rental Assist

By WPBdiver,

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I am having some difficulty obtaining a well priced car rental for my Florida trip. I am traveling alone and can accept any class of vehicle. I also have quite a bit of flexibility in my itinerary and would be willing to modify it to get a decent rental rate. Here is my plan as it stands:

Arrive PBI on 5/20 (I am staying in West Palm Beach, but could change my arrival to FLL as Southwest has $59 fares from BWI/FLL). Depart TPA 5/27. (This is not a must, I can change my flight for either PBI or FLL for a 5/26 departure).

My options are as follows:

1) Pick up car in FLL instead of PBI.

2) Don't make the trip to TPA and drop at same rental location.

3) Do a 5 day rental locally (either PBI or FLL) via Priceline and then a two day rental starting in PBI/FLL with a drop in TPA booking outside of PL since there is no one way rental option.

Through convential sites (Travelocity), I have been monitoring rates for a few weeks and daily rates start around $45. A five day PBI/PBI rate is $272 (w/ taxes). A seven day PBI/TPA is $388. A two day PBI/TPA rate is great at $20/day ($53 total).

The lowest rate I see through Hotwire is $38/day for economy ($240 total) and this is a Hotwire hot Rate.

I realize this is Memorial Day weekend, but I have made this trip several times and have not found the rates this high before. My though is the rates will moderate a bit, but I just don't see what would be driving the FLL/PBI rates as from a holiday weekend. Sorry to through so many variables into the mix, but this is what I have been looking at. My preference would be the PBI/TPA run for seven days, but the 5 day PBI/PBI via PL or Hotwire and a 2 day PBI/TPA standard rental may be the most economical.

Thanks for any assistance.

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This is a tough request to respond to because there are so many variables: two potential origin cities, three potential departure cities, plus you're flexible as to dates and car class. It would take hours to check all the possible permutations!

You seem to be doing the necessary legwork and price research so I'll just offer a couple comments:

1) Unlike hotel rates car rental rates are generally up from a year ago, in some markets significantly up....double or more! You're probably not going to find the price you paid for the same rental a year ago. $38/day sounds like a lot for an Economy on Hotwire, but that's not remarkably high lately. I've been seeing some Economy quotes in the $50's lately!

Since you've got six weeks weeks before your trip I'd probably reserve the best cancellable rate you can find now. If rates go up you're locked in. If they drop you can rebook.

2) Check the "Specials" tab at each of the car rental websites individually. Occasionally one of them runs a "No Drop Fee in Florida" special. You won't find those deals if you're only checking general purpose sites like Orbitz and Expedia.

3) With enough notice you can fly Southwest between PBI and TPA for $49 or $59, I believe. (I haven't checked your dates.) A flight might be less than the rental companies' drop charge. You'd do two separate rentals then, in PBI and TPA, returning both to original locations.

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Colfax, thanks for the response. I'll book a rental as a safety now as suggested. Can't fly to TPA from PBI since I will have been scuba diving for a week (no flying after diving rule for 24 hours). I didn't want to ad that to the already complicated mix! Thanks again.

Curious as to why rental rates for cars are up dramatically over last year with the economy and what I would think would be a softer travel market in general.

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If you use the one free day coupon for Alamo from VacationOutlet.com, you can get a 7 day PBI->TPA (5/20-5/27) for $273.39 total w/taxes. This would be for a compact car.

Or using the same coupon, 5 day PBI -> PBI (5/20-5/25) is $179.12 total w/taxes for a compact. And then you can get the 2 day PBI->TPA (5/25-5/27) for $48 total, so you'd have a total of $227.12


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