Rental car prices spike as companies sold cars to survive

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AUSTIN (KXAN) —Before you buy that plane ticket or book a hotel room, you might want to check out how much it will cost you to rent a car.

Rental car prices are sky-high as more people are getting out to travel, but less vehicles to rent.

“When the pandemic first hit the rental car companies saw demand drop by 90%,” said Jonathan Weinberg, founder of AutoSlash.com. “They essentially shifted into survival mode. They had to sell off hundreds of thousands of vehicles in order to survive.”

Now with more people getting the vaccine and states easing COVID-19 restrictions, people are traveling, but since companies had to sell some of their inventories to stay afloat during the pandemic, supply is way down.

“Usually you would be able to find rental car prices for $20-$35 a day,” Weinberg said.

The cheapest car KXAN found on Hertz.com for April 30 is more than $150 per day when renting from the airport location.

Depending on where you are going the price could jump even higher.

“We are seeing rates anywhere from $75-$500 dollars a day right now,” Weinberg said.

Some rental car companies are selling out of rental cars.

“Presidents Day and Valentine’s weekend, 18 of the 20 airports in Florida were completely sold out,” Weinberg said. “It is probably going to be September before we see some real relief.”

The recent hail storms in Central Texas could also impact pricing for the area says Weinberg.

“That may have taken out some of the rental cars,” said Weinberg. “Some of the rental cars might need to go in for a repair and it also means that people with significant hail damage on their vehicles may decide their vehicle has to get repairs and needs to go into the shop then they need to rent,” said Weinberg.

Weinberg says there are some tips to help out. Sign up for loyalty or rewards programs, and booking early can help. Given the current climate, however, you aren’t always guaranteed a car.

*Prices shown in story are subject to change from day-to-day and by the company renters are using.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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