Cheapest possible SUV rental option for Brooklyn to Asheville
June 12, 2017 11:01 AM   Subscribe

Me, my three friends, and a dog are driving from Brooklyn NY to Asheville NC, staying in Asheville for 4-5 days, and driving back to Brooklyn over the July 4th holiday. What is the cheapest way to rent an SUV for the trip?

We are hoping to leave Brooklyn very early morning Saturday July 1 (though possibly early Friday June 30) and driving straight through to Asheville, staying in Asheville Saturday night-early Wednesday morning July 5, and driving straight through back to Brooklyn Wednesday. We want an SUV or station wagon (though a small Rav4-like SUV is totally fine) for our stuff and the dog.

I know it is supposed to be cheaper to rent in NJ, but from where--airport? Somewhere else? How would we get to that somewhere else? We only use public transportation.

Should we pick it up Friday evening since we want to leave super-early Saturday morning (or Thursday night for a Friday morning departure)?

Should we rent a car one-way, drop it off in Asheville and rent a different car for the few days we are there, then rent another different car to drive one-way back to Brooklyn? Would it be cheaper to do the bulk of the driving with an Asheville rental?

Should we just get something with unlimited milage in NJ and drive it the whole time?

We are all adults in our 30s and have been living without cars or insurance for a very long time. We do have valid drivers licenses--should we add all of us as additional drivers if we are going to be switching up drivers on the long drive? Should we buy insurance? How do we find out if our credit card(s) cover us?

What's the cheapest way to do this, without too much inconvenience (i.e. going to Connecticut or having to pick up a car at 3am or something)?

How much should we expect to pay?

Thanks for your help!
posted by greta simone to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
1) Pickup and drop off at same location
2) Cheaper options are pick ups in Jersey City, EWR, White Plains. another option is to pick up in burbs and return to one of the city locations. Its usually a little more but cheaper than trains from burbs.
3) Check out for discounts
4) the good chase cards provide collision insurance, but you should get supplemental liability ($17 a day) if you have any assets.
posted by sandmanwv at 11:08 AM on June 12, 2017

FYI checked autoslash and approx $100 day from Newark. Renting two cars is usually actually cheaper..
posted by sandmanwv at 11:29 AM on June 12, 2017

Just to put a number on this, a Nissan Rogue, picked up from Alamo at EWR at 9:00 AM on July 1 and dropped off at 9:00 PM on July 5 is $546 total. This is from Costco Travel, which is usually (but not always) the cheapest way to rent a car. Costco Travel includes a second driver for free. This does not include insurance, and that's not something I'm familiar with purchasing.

Keep in mind when comparison shopping that various websites often show you the rental rate without added taxes and fees ($150 in this case). You have to click through to see the price with those added on.

Don't buy the gas option. It's a ripoff. They charge you for a full tank no matter how much gas is in the vehicle. Just fill up before you return the car.
posted by cnc at 11:29 AM on June 12, 2017

If you anticipate switching out drivers, you should add all the potential additional drivers (and pay the fee). Insurance normally follows the car, but if you do end up in an accident when the car is driven by a non-added driver, there's a nonzero chance that the rental car company will make a lot of trouble for you as you're technically in violation of the contract with the rental car company.
posted by andrewesque at 11:29 AM on June 12, 2017

Response by poster: Should mention that none of us have any AAA or Costco or whatever memberships that might give us a discount. And the round-trip alone is going to be over 1400 miles, not including what driving we do while in town, and it seems that most milage caps at 1050. Not sure what our options are there either? Nothing is letting me filter by unlimited milage.
posted by greta simone at 11:36 AM on June 12, 2017

Do you really need an SUV? It's often cheaper to get a van.
posted by carmicha at 11:41 AM on June 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

A quick search on Priceline from 6/30 to 7/5 gives you a Ford Escape/Toyota Rav4 picked up and dropped off in North Bergen NJ for $415, including taxes but not including any additional insurance. I'm not from the area so I have no idea how convenient North Bergen is. Pick up in Jersey city was about $500 and in NY (LGA, JFK) was about $550.

I usually search multiple sites - Priceline, hotwire, kayak, Costco, rental companies directly (Budget, Hertz, Thrifty, Enterprise, Alamo). Try airport and non-airport locations (non-airport is usually cheaper), one way rentals, etc and play around with combinations until you find something good. Also, a mini van may be cheaper than an SUV, and a large sedan may actually have more room than a Rav4.
posted by Shal at 11:44 AM on June 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: A min-van would probably be fine.

I'm asking here so I can get some insight about which variables to play around with to make this easier and less time consuming.
posted by greta simone at 11:54 AM on June 12, 2017

Fwiw, both costco and aAa are around $60. One plus for Costco is that they always had the cheapest gas, so that could work out to save you some money.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:09 PM on June 12, 2017

Check fatwallet, etc, for discount codes to use with the rental companies. Many of the corporate codes have rate caps that can really drop the price during holidays. (They never ask for ID, in my experience, and as long as it isn't one of the ones with included LDW, it wont mess with credit card/other insurance)
posted by wierdo at 12:32 PM on June 12, 2017

I've found that due to taxes and some other fees/stuff renting a vehicle at an airport is much more expensive than renting at a smaller off-airport location. Also, vans are usually way more expensive than small SUVs. At least the above has always been my experience renting a vehicle (almost always a small SUV) in Phoenix, AZ.
posted by TurquoiseZebra at 12:34 PM on June 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Does anyone belong to a major credit union like USAA or Navy Federal? I got massive discounts through Navy Federal. I would imagine there are additional discounts available for veterans if that applies to any of you.
posted by AFABulous at 7:28 PM on June 12, 2017

Response by poster: Nope, no memberships to anything special.
posted by greta simone at 5:34 AM on June 13, 2017

I'm local. Even if you have a reservation it would be unwise to think you will get the promised vehicle when you need it. With dog and four you could get really stuck. Especially that week. I'd keep the one you arrive in. Memail me about anything, especially food.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 9:26 AM on June 13, 2017

I've actually had good luck with Enterprise bringing the car to me. If any of the rental services will bring the car to you, factor in the cost of transit to the cars that agencies cannot bring to you.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:52 AM on June 13, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks Mr. Yuck, I'm from there originally, playing tour guide to my friends. I've just never driven there from New York in a rental (only flown).
posted by greta simone at 4:00 PM on June 13, 2017

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