I ran across an interesting car rental pricing experiment conducted by the good people at MousePrint.org. They looked at how the price of a car rental changes as you get closer to the date you plan to pick the car up.
The compact car rental in question was booked through Alamo and was to last 12 days and be picked up from Boston Logan International Airport. The first quote they got, a little over three weeks out from the pick-up date, was for a whopping $482.89, even with a coupon and a group discount.
But subsequent quotes obtained revealed sharp price cuts, culminating in a quote of $260.81 two days before the scheduled pick up, which represents a price cut of nearly 46 percent, or $222.08, over the three-weeks-out price.
True, this experiment is a limited one, covering only one car rental carrier over one time period in an industry known for its seasonal price fluctuations. And waiting to make a reservation can increase the risk that all the rental cars will be taken and you'll be out of luck.
But the experiment does suggest that unless you truly wait until the last minute, you can get a better deal by making the reservation with less time to spare. In other words, try to catch that trough in the graph that starts around 5 days before the day you plan to pick up the rental car.
What do you think? Have you found that waiting to make a car rental reservation results in a lower price?