Renting cars cheaply and calmly
August 19, 2010 10:28 AM   Subscribe

Need some help on car rental logistics plus dealing with potential !DRAMA! on a family trip to Disney World.

My father and stepmother have graciously paid for all of us to go to Disneyworld this fall for eight days. They paid for the flights, hotel, and park admission. Us 3 kids are responsible for the car rental, our own food and spending money. I am arranging the car rental.

We are flying into MCO and staying on one of the Disney properties (not sure which one). IT HAS BEEN DECREED that we are renting cars, so please no talk of shuttles and whatnot. The family consists of:

Mom and Dad
Sister A, Husband A, Kid A (6 y/o)
Sister B, Husband B, Kid B (6 y/o) and Teen B
Me and Mr. Desjardins

We're getting 2 minivans/full size SUVs (whatever seats 7 and is cheaper). The lowest price I have seen for one vehicle (including tax & fees, not incl add'l insurance) for eight days is $588.91. This is with my credit union discount. First question: Do you know of any additional discounts or cheaper prices?

Second question: How many drivers can we list, and how do we pick which ones? DRAMA COROLLARY: Husband B has a spotty driving record, to say the least, and often drinks to excess (although I have never seen him drive drunk from a family function; Sister B always drives). I obviously do NOT want him driving drunk, and preferably not at all. How on earth do we tell Sister and Husband B that we don't want him on the list? He's a functional drunk, is not abusive, and as far as I'm concerned, the amount he drinks is not my business until I'm in a car with him.

The rentals will be put on my credit card and Sisters A and B will pay me their portion in cash or check. (I fully trust them to do this.) Third question: Does that make me the responsible one in case of an accident? I have good auto insurance, and I'm sure they do too. Last question: Should we get the additional coverage from the rental agency?
posted by desjardins to Travel & Transportation (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You should rent three cars, not two. Sister A, Sister B, and you should each rent your own (and pay for your own). Mom and Dad can ride with whomever they need to.

We did something similar for a family destination wedding in Vegas, and having three cars vs. two was a lot easier.
posted by anastasiav at 10:35 AM on August 19, 2010 [6 favorites]

I've never actually gone through with a rental from this site, but they get back to you quickly with a price:

Rental Car Magic

The way it works is they search for rentals and if the price they find is significantly less than "generally available" rates, you pay them a small fee for the information.

However, my wife goes nuts with searching for the lowest possible rates, so the price they find has never been low enough to justify paying for their information. Neat service, though.
posted by dforemsky at 10:37 AM on August 19, 2010

You tell them that it's cheapest to only have one driver.

If I were you, I'd rent another car, probably a four-door sedan. The families and folks without families might want some time to go somewhere and not have to drive everyone around or worry about taking cars away from others. I think it'd be worth some extra money to have a bit of independence. Then you won't all be crammed into a mini van (7 people in a minivan is going to feel crowded).

Or, actually, you could rent three four door cars and fit everyone, probably for close the same price as two larger vehicles. Then you guys pretty much drive with your parents and let the families rent together.

Then, Sister A pays for one car, Sister B pays for another, and you pay for one. Keeps it simple, and you don't have to worry about all being on one contract. And then you all get to keep a bit of sanity.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:38 AM on August 19, 2010

nthing 3 cars. it will totally be cheaper to rent 3 small cars than 2 big ones.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 10:39 AM on August 19, 2010

Yup, save all drama by getting three cars -- you can drive your parents, unless they need to go off on a separate side trip at some point.
posted by modernnomad at 10:42 AM on August 19, 2010

the additional coverage is a bit of a scam in most situations, it (in my experience) often costs about another 1/3 to 1/2 of the rental. That said, it might be worth it if you have a lot of drivers under one person's coverage, which you could end up with, so it is a balancing act between cost, and how little risk you want to assume.

Many times car rentals require a single credit card to reserve, but you can actually pay in other forms. So, it might be possible to reserve the car/s under your name, but at the rental counter split who pays for what and also allocate someone different to be responsible for at least one of the vehicles. IF you end up paying for both vehicles, unless something odd is arranged at the rental counter, your insurance is what covers both vehicles, so yeah you are the responsible party.

Personally, I'd just insist on only one driver from each group be added, make the decision prior to the ticket counter and present it as a fait accompli, Dad (or mom) sister A, Sister B and me.

No one is going to be able to give a good response regarding pricing without the dates, in general weekend rates tend to be better and whole weeks better than partial weeks/individual days.
posted by edgeways at 10:43 AM on August 19, 2010

Even if you rent two cars, you have 11 people, so you could do one normal car and one bigger car to save money.

It probably depends on the rental agency, but some agencies charge extra for additional drivers so as a way to get around question 2 drama you could designate yourself as the authorized driver for one car and sister A as the driver of the other car (for example).

Even if you don't go too far off the Disney property, the rental cars will be useful for groceries and getting to downtown Disney, but for getting to the parks (and avoiding the parking hassle) the shuttles really are great.
posted by loulou718 at 10:43 AM on August 19, 2010

Regardless of family drama I think it is a bad idea to rent a car on behalf of anybody else but immediate family--period. It is just to complicated if there is a problem--if you use your credit card I think you are potentially on the hook regardless of the driver (call the company from whom you decide to rent). Finally, drinking is drinking is drinking--what are you thinking. The minor drama of hurt feelings is insignificant to the potential, though unlikely, drama of an accident. If you are unable to extricate yourself from renting you should take out the extra insurance on the vehicle you will not be driving. I fail to see why sister B can not arrange their own rental. If they do not have a credit card, which is the only reason I can see why you would make the arrangements, that should be a flag in itself. Let me say this again--do not put yourself and family in a position of increased liability because it is "more convenient", "what we agreed" or "it is difficult for the other party".
posted by rmhsinc at 10:44 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

A mid-size sedan will run you $200 for the week, with taxes and fees included. Has it been decreed that must choose a minivan/SUV?
posted by BurntHombre at 10:49 AM on August 19, 2010

Some credit card companies (most notably Amex) provide some level of free rental insurance with your rental, as long as you pay with your card.
posted by schmod at 10:50 AM on August 19, 2010

I've found discounts on that have been very good.
posted by sarahnade at 10:52 AM on August 19, 2010

Response by poster: This might be one of the fastest resolved questions on mefi. I sent the following email to A and B:

You know, it actually might make more sense financially and practically to get 3 cars. I looked up Alamo again and a 4 door Pontiac G6 is $320. If we did the 2 minivan thing, it'd be $589 x 2 = 1178 divided by 3 = $392. So it's actually more expensive to get 2 cars than it is for 3. If we got 3 cars that each seat 5 people, Dad and Mom could ride with anyone except Sister B (since you have 4 people).

I used the Pontiac as an example - you can get an economy car for even cheaper than $320. There's a Corolla for $235 at Payless Car Rental (without any discounts applied). What do you think?
posted by desjardins at 10:55 AM on August 19, 2010

Depending on the rental company AND the state, you may or may not be charged for additional drivers if they are spouses, domestic partners or family members. You will need to go read the fine print for each rental company site.

I don't know how far out this trip is but if it's too far out, you're not seeing all the good discounts. When I book trips I will hit all the rental sites directly and find the lowest price and book it as a cancellable backup, and I will also note the cutoff dates for the current promotions if I'm not in that window yet and come back when they flip over.

Keep in mind that many people have used AAA discounts to rent cars and have never once been a member of AAA nor asked for their AAA membership card. It might be useful to see what the discount is so that you could make a decision about whether or not you wanted to join AAA.

Finally, I don't know that you can rent all three cars as a private individual. You would be on the hook for any damage, not the individual drivers. I'm not sure that they'll let you do that.
posted by micawber at 11:05 AM on August 19, 2010

The people at Mousesavers are always on the lookout for the best deals, coupons and codes for Disney related services.
posted by mmascolino at 11:05 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

I have rented cars before using coupons codes and discount codes easily available by searching the internet. Among the best deals I have gotten have been with Costco ( if you have a membership) and AAA. Using the Costco coupon code also gave me an additional driver at no charge where I rented (Tampa). I think your plan of renting 3 cars instead of two vans makes the most sense, not just for the financial responsibility issues in case of an accident, but also for flexibility for a vacation of that length.
posted by Rapunzel1111 at 11:06 AM on August 19, 2010

When I fly home to visit my parents, I always rent from Payless. It saves a ton of money versus renting at the airport and their shuttle makes it just as convenient. Don't fall for any of their upsells. I don't know how many times they told me that I would get a two door tiny POC car and ended up getting a regular sized four door, like a PT Cruiser or Dodge Caliber.
posted by advicepig at 11:37 AM on August 19, 2010

You know, it actually might make more sense financially and practically to get 3 cars.

Just make sure that the other families KNOW whether you are going to book all 3 cars or if they need to book their own. You don't want to show up at the destination and find out that they all agreed to the plan but thought you would do the actual booking.
posted by CathyG at 11:42 AM on August 19, 2010

Just wanted to mention that priceline can be a great options for cars -- basically, they're all the same, so it doesn't matter that you get less control. Just be really careful about reading the small print on the prices.
posted by mercredi at 11:42 AM on August 19, 2010

Let the rest of your relatives rent cars, and rely on Disney transportation yourself which is a) free (and thus a lot cheaper than renting cars and paying $14 each time you park and b) much, much faster.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:37 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I vote you don't try to restrict Husband B from driving. Presumably he drives all time and restricting him on this trip is only going to piss him off, not reduce his drunk/crappy driving time.

Just ride in the other van yourself.
posted by serazin at 12:48 PM on August 19, 2010

I've often found rental cars very cheaply at Hotwire. You don't find out which company you're renting from until after you pay, but they don't use fly-by-night operations. The cars I've gotten have usually been Hertz.
posted by lukemeister at 7:17 PM on August 19, 2010

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