Branching Out With Priceline For Rental Cars

My husband and I have been using Priceline for years to bid for hotels. Today we took the plunge and used Priceline’s opaque bidding engine to book a rental car, and we got a terrific deal.

First we booked a very nice beach resort on the Big Island of Hawaii for a heavily discounted $104 a night, including taxes, well under half the lowest rate on the resort’s Web site. This was the culmination of a carefully researched and implemented bidding strategy aimed at getting into that particular resort, although we knew we might end up at another. (We figured we could adjust to any resort-level beach hotel.)

When we got the hotel confirmation, it included a link to bid on a rental car. We low-balled with a bid of $12 a day for a compact car, and got that, too. With taxes and fees we’ll pay$136 for the whole week, a savings of 70 percent on the rental company’s best Web price.

I’ve long resisted using Priceline’s blind bidding for rental cars, in part because of strong brand loyalties. I want to pick the company. But Priceline uses only major companies, and the deal in this case was extraordinary. I think I’ll be trying this again.

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