What are my cheapest rental transportation options?
September 24, 2008 11:07 AM   Subscribe

Is there such a thing as a cheap rental car? I'm headed down to Florida for Obama, until the election is over.

I am headed to Tampa, FL to work for the Obama campaign until the election. I am getting free housing, however I don't own a car which could make things really annoying. Of course I can bum rides from others, but I want to know my options especially if I'm a 15 minute drive away from the office.

From my own internet research, it seems like finding a car for the month for less than $600 bucks is just not out there. Rent a Wreck says $700, and I'm 23 anyway.

Perhaps an Obama supporter in the area can lend me a car, but I know if I owned a car I'd be weary of loaning one to Jesus himself.

posted by metamush to Travel & Transportation around Florida (21 answers total)
buying a jalopy isn't an option?
posted by Acer_saccharum at 11:16 AM on September 24, 2008

Post something to craigslist asking if anyone has a really cheap car that you can buy.

I'm in Montana for BO as well, and I picked up a 1988 Chrysler New Yorker for $400 doing this. I figure I can sell it for at least half of that after the election. Of course, the emergency break, fuel gauge, and power steering don't work, but you get what you pay for.
posted by zazerr at 11:19 AM on September 24, 2008

It looks like renting from Enterprise in Orlando is cheaper than Tampa. Their under-25 fee looks to be about $8/day though ($240+ per month). But you can get a completely legal car for $888 per month.

They also have a "month-or-more" plan that you have to call and ask about, but it may have better rates.
posted by smackfu at 11:22 AM on September 24, 2008

i didn't know what jalopy meant, and unfortunately the first definition that popped in google was urban dictionary's "sloppy jalopy".

I then discovered the definition of old shitty car, and understood your question. I have no real use for a car beyond this campaign. I live in a city with great public transportation.
posted by metamush at 11:23 AM on September 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Search for coupons online (eg. retailmenot.com) for the various rental companies. I've gotten some pretty ridiculous deals through enterprise doing this. Your age my be a factor against you, though.
posted by inigo2 at 11:23 AM on September 24, 2008

And do consider if gas is available along your route. Viz. one of today's posts, gas is very scarce round Atlanta way at the moment.

Thank you for working for Obama!
posted by jfwlucy at 11:23 AM on September 24, 2008

I'd actually go for buying a cheap car off craigslist, then reselling it once you're done here. Since there's no inspection in Florida, you can find a lot of beaters. Just keep in mind that registration here is going to run you around $200.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:32 AM on September 24, 2008

Does zipcar exist around there? Though that would only make sense if you needed to rent a car for just and hour or two a day, and not every day...
posted by Grither at 11:35 AM on September 24, 2008

I then discovered the definition of old shitty car, and understood your question. I have no real use for a car beyond this campaign. I live in a city with great public transportation.

The idea is that you resell the car once you're done with it, recouping a significant fraction of your cost.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:44 AM on September 24, 2008

In fact, if you had a few thousand to outlay on a ~15 year old Honda or Toyota, you could probably recover the entire sales price when the time comes to leave Florida.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:48 AM on September 24, 2008

I live in a city with great public transportation.

I don't live anywhere near Tampa, nor have I ever been there, but it sounds like you're assuming this won't be the case there. Have you talked to anyone at the campaign HQs? I think the best advice would be to find out exactly how much driving you expect to need to do and how far away you expect to be. A bicycle might be a better (and subsequently cheaper) option for you.
posted by genial at 11:53 AM on September 24, 2008

Welcome to my town!
Okay, I'm over in St Petersburg, but you're close.
Definitely recommend getting a car, as this place is full of suburban sprawl, and public transportation is scandalous to say the least.
Also second the recommendations for Craigs List. You should definitely be able to pick up a beater to tool around in.
My assumption here is that you have contact information for co-workers already down here; might want to hit them up for any tips and tricks they may have.
posted by willmize at 11:55 AM on September 24, 2008

Here is a 1995 Saab for $975.

I see several other cars listed for under $1000 in the Washington D.C. area that could work well for your needs.

Or find a local used car dealer who supports Obama and go make a deal. It's the end of the month and they are often willing to unload as much inventory as possible.
posted by camworld at 1:10 PM on September 24, 2008

I once bought a $900 car for a newspaper internship, and totally regretted it. You get what you pay for.

If you'd rather focus your energy on your work for Obama (good on ya, BTW), instead of getting your $975 1995 Saab to the mechanic yet again, why not get a bicycle?

Tampa is actually quite nice in the fall, this would be the perfect time to be on a bike there, plus you'll get in shape, it won't cost you anything for gasoline or insurance and a bicycle is infinitely more reliable than a jalopy. A long commute by bike can seem daunting at first, but you get used to it really fast.

Good luck!
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 2:41 PM on September 24, 2008

If purchasing a vehicle in Florida one must consider that the cost of registering said car with the state and getting a license plate is nearly $200.
posted by Dreama at 3:14 PM on September 24, 2008

MouseSavers started out providing rental car coupon codes that were Disney-travel-specific, but they also work nationally.

Your main problem isn't going to be getting a reduced rate -- it's going to be your age. You'll most likely have to pay a hefty surcharge.

I don't think buying a car will work all that well for the short-term. You'll also have to pay for registration + insurance (and both of those will eat up time, as well as money), and you might have to get a FL license to get either.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:19 PM on September 24, 2008

Why not ask the campaign if they have idea. I mean, I'm sure they have tons of volunteers who don't have cars, and can't afford a rental. You might also consider a motor cycle.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:56 PM on September 24, 2008

If you really want to go the rent-a-car route:

Show up at the rental agency and negotiate with them. Rental rates are not firm and can be changed on a case-by-case basis. You're 23? No problem, Avis will let you rent, and yeah they do have a surcharge but you can negotiate with them and have them take it off.
posted by 913 at 6:06 PM on September 24, 2008

Consider that there may be a neighborhood car rental place near where you either live or work. If that's the case, you could limit your rentals to the occasional weekend or so, when you really want to be able to drive somewhere. Plus, in alot of these locations, the weekend rates are ridiculously cheap and you don't have to pay the airport taxes.

The under-25 thing doesn't have to be a problem. If you check out the rental car discount list on fatwallet, there are a number of codes for different rental companies that waive the underage fee.
posted by cabingirl at 7:16 PM on September 24, 2008

If you don't want to bike, how about an electric bike, or even a regular moped/scooter?
posted by glip at 7:57 AM on September 25, 2008

I haven't done a long-term rental like this, but I have had excellent results using name your own price on Priceline. You can try once a day, so start with 1/2 the going rate, and increase it a bit each day until it's accepted. Seems like 30% off is pretty easy to do.
posted by SampleSize at 9:12 AM on September 25, 2008

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