10 Best Car Rental Booking Sites for Finding Cheap Deals

These car rental booking sites make it easy to compare prices and features.
Mother and child on a family road trip (Photo: Shutterstock)
Photo: Shutterstock

Finding cheap car rentals isn’t as easy as it used to be, and sometimes even booking a rental car that matches your trip’s needs can feel like a challenge. But the good news is that the best car rental sites can make it easier to compare prices and features in order to get the make, model, and size you want at a price you can feel good about.

How to Use This Story about Car Rental Booking Sites

  • Click on any of the car rental comparison sites in the list below to go straight to the site and start your search for the cheapest car rental rates.
  • Scroll down to read my review detailing what you’ll get from each of these car rental sites, including how to compare rates and find deals on car rentals that fit your budget, trip plans, comfort needs, and travel party size.
  • Read my tips about car rental booking (click on the link to jump down to that part of the story or just scroll down) to get more advice and clever tricks for maximizing your savings on car rentals.

How we review these car rental booking sites: Read our methodology for selecting and recommending booking sites.

The Best Rental Car Comparison Sites for Cheap Car Rentals

Best Car Rental Booking Websites: My Unbiased Reviews

1. Kayak

screenshot of Kayak car rental landing page showing features the site offers for car rental searches
Kayak offers an easy way to see rental car deals from many different companies (Photo: Kayak)

What Kayak Does Best

Kayak earns my top spot among rental car booking sites with its super easy comparison shopping plus helpful ways to filter results.

Details of Kayak’s Car Rental Search

As a metasearch site, Kayak displays cheap rental car rates from a broad range of providers, making it super easy to compare prices in one place. But you can’t book your rental through Kayak itself. Instead, you select the offer that’s best for you and click through to the provider’s site to complete your reservation. Basically, using Kayak is a shortcut option if you want to compare prices across different sites without visiting each individually.

ADD-ONS: Which Optional Car Rental Fees Should You Pay For (and Which to Skip)?

Results can be sorted by cheapest price, recommended offers (which is the default), or customer ratings of the rental car companies. Filtering options include car type, cancellation and payment policies, and rental providers. Some offers are exclusive to Kayak, and Kayak members get access to “Private Deals.” Kayak also offers mobile-only rates through its app.

Kayak is part of a larger corporation called Booking Holdings, which includes popular travel deal comparison sites Booking.com and Priceline.

2. Expedia

screenshot of expedia car rental booking site results page, with a view of some of the filters
Expedia’s filters include the ability to narrow search results to electric cars and by company satisfaction score (Photo: Expedia)

What Expedia Does Best

Expedia is an online travel agency with easy-to-find information about cancellation policies. I like that it’s so straightforward to see the best rates for each car size. There’s also a filter to make it easy to find hybrids and electric vehicles where available.

Details of Expedia’s Car Rental Search

People know and trust Expedia, but that’s only part of what makes it a good booking site for car rentals. Its mix of car rental brands generally prioritizes well-known brands and shows you user ratings for all car rental companies. Results are sorted by recommended options as the default, but you can switch it to total cost on rental car prices or traveler ratings to see everything displayed based on what’s most important to you. 

BEST TRIP EVER: 50 Best Family Vacation Ideas for All Ages

Results clearly indicate whether cancellation is available for free or a fee and if you can save money by paying in advance. Each rental car company is displayed along with its customer rating, and it’s noted whether online check-in is available.

You can filter the results by the “Great Deal” option to see the cheapest car rental option for each size category, and become an Expedia member for even more potential savings. When you’re putting in dates, you can also drop in a coupon code by car rental company or just search for AARP rates. It’s also quite easy to search for one-way car rentals—just check the box and fill in the pick-up and drop-off locations.

Expedia is part of the group of companies that also includes TravelocityOrbitz, and Hotwire. Deals vary among their respective car rental booking sites, however, so it’s worthwhile to do a little comparison before booking.

3. Priceline

screenshot of Priceline's car rental booking deals with a view of vehicle types and filters
Priceline’s car rental search results display typical wait times at the rental counter, or if a shuttle is required (Photo: Priceline)

What Priceline Does Best

Priceline has easy-to-read ratings of rental car locations plus the average wait time to expect. It also has some very cheap car rentals if you’re willing to lock in your rate before finding out what company you’re booking with.

Details of Hotwire’s Rental Car Search Function

The popular travel booking site Priceline offers car rental deals from hundreds of companies. You can sort your search results by price, car type, or Priceline’s “recommended offers” from companies with good customer ratings (that’s what shows up first in the results). The usual filters can also be applied to narrow down the results, like price range, car type, rental car company, and cancellation policy. There’s also an easy way to narrow results if you’re a driver younger than 25 (since some companies won’t rent to younger drivers and most tack on a daily surcharge).

In some destinations and dates, Priceline offers steep savings offers like Express Deals, where you pay up front for a car type but don’t know the car rental company (you get to see a few options that it might be) until after you’ve booked. There are also sometimes Supplier’s Choice deals, where you book with a specific company but the car choice is determined when you pick up your vehicle. There’s not a way to specifically filter for these deals, though, so you just have to see if any come up with your search. Note that Priceline is pushing its app, and says its best deals are available only in the app.

AVOID SNEAKY FEES: How to Avoid Hidden Fees on Car Rentals

You can join the Priceline VIP program to get extra savings on rental cars and hotels.

4. Hotwire

screenshot of Hotwire Hot Rates car rental listings
Though they’re not available on all searches, it’s worth checking Hotwire to see if it has any deeply discounted Hot Rates for your car rental destination and dates (Photo: Hotwire)

What Hotwire Does Best

With its Hot Rate options, Hotwire offers inexpensive but nonrefundable car rental deals. It also has good filtering options so you can easily get to the exact car you want.

Details of Hotwire’s Car Rental Search

If finding the absolute cheapest car rental rates is your biggest concern, head to Hotwire and filter your search results by “Hot Rate” cars. These deeply discounted car rental deals can’t be cancelled or changed, and you won’t know which rental car company you’re making your reservation with until after you check out (you’re given some possibilities). But you could save yourself a lot of cash. Note that Hot Rates aren’t available on all dates and destinations, but if there are some in the mix, you can see them by using the Hot Rate filter that’s in the Rental Agency filter category, all the way down at the bottom (if there aren’t any Hot Rates, the option won’t be included in the list).

TAKE FLIGHT: 17 Best Flight Booking Sites for Cheap Airfares

If you want more flexibility, you can filter your comparison search results by those that offer free cancellation, but the rates will be higher. You can also filter by pickup location—in the airport terminal, on airport property, or off airport property. Choose the “Special Car” option to get a compact size or potentially larger rental at a compact price, and make sure to check the Hotwire app versus the website to see if you turn up lower rates, since the site says it reserves its cheapest rates for bookings in the app.

5. AutoRentals.com

screenshot of matrix function on the car rental booking site autorentals.com
AutoRentals.com’ s matrix is both overwhelming and helpful in helping you find cheap car rentals (Photo: AutoRentals.com)

What AutoRentals.com Does Best

AutoRentals.com is another metasearch site, so it allows you to see prices across a lot of car rental booking sites, and then it routes you to the site once you choose the rate you want. It has an easy (but a little overwhelming) to compare many options at once with its matrix tool.

Details of AutoRentals.com’s Search Function

The car rental metasearch site AutoRentals.com doesn’t have the same brand recognition as the Expedias and Kayaks on this list, but it does do a good job sourcing cheap car rental rates. You have two options for looking at results, either in a traditional list format or by using its simultaneously overwhelming and very helpful matrix, which highlights the best daily and total rates (which aren’t always the same) by car size and rental provider.

6. Rentalcars.com

RentalCars.com screenshot showing layout of car rental listings
Popular filters for car rental booking searches include unlimited mileage and free cancellation (Photo: RentalCars.com)

What Rentalcars.com Does Best

Rentalcars.com provides lots of helpful and easy-to-find information in each search result and the ability to filter by things like free cancellation, waiting until pickup to pay, and unlimited mileage rentals.

Details of Rentalcars.com’s Search Function

Another car rental comparison search site that’s part of Booking Holdings, Rentalcars.com offers free cancellations on most bookings and provides rental options from major car rental brands in more than 60,000 locations around the world.

Search results detail whether free cancellation is available and if you need to pay at booking or pickup. Click the “Important Info” link to find the documents you’ll need at pickup, forms of payment accepted, fuel policy, and other rental requirements. Results also include customer reviews that rate each car rental car company on elements like pickup speed, helpfulness, and car condition.

EASY VACATIONS: 11 Guided Tour Companies That Offer Trips around the World

The Rentalcars.com website highlights the kinds of cars popular at each airport, and those are what tend to show up first when results are filtered by recommended options.

7. CarRentals.com

Homepage of the car rental comparison site CarRentals.com (Credit: CarRentals.com)
CarRentals.com automatically sorts search results by total price rather than the more misleading base price (Credit: CarRentals.com)

What CarRentals.com Does Best

CarRentals.com‘s search results are automatically sorted by total price and key information is easy to find.

Details of CarRentals.com’s Search Function

Part of the Expedia Group, CarRentals.com compiles options from all of the top rental car companies and displays results by total price so you can see what you’d actually pay for a rental. Results are sorted by total price as the default; sort them by the “recommended” option to see offers from well-rated rental car companies first.

ROOM TO STRETCH OUT: 17 Best Vacation Rental Booking Sites

It’s easy to see if free cancellation is available, when you need to pay for your reservation, and if you need to take a shuttle from the airport to pick up your rental. If you’re feeling lucky, opt for a Special and you could end up with a deeper discount. Results show what percentage of customers recommend each rental company, and filtering options include car type and total price range.

On some searches, there’s a Great Deal filter that highlights the lowest price car in each category, which is a helpful timesaver if you don’t want to scroll through a lot of listings.

8. Sixt

Homepage of the car rental comparison site Sixt (Credit: Sixt)
Sixt specializes in high-end car rentals like convertibles, BMWs, and Audis at affordable prices (Credit: Sixt)

What Sixt Does Best

Sixt gives you the ability to get high-end rentals at lower price points plus long-term rental options (rent by the month).

Details of Sixt’s Car Rental Search

If the kind of car you drive matters to you more than finding the cheapest car rental, check out Sixt, which has more than 2,000 locations in more than 105 countries. Its rental fleet is made up mostly of premium cars (think BMWs, Audis, Range Rovers, and a variety of convertibles) available at not-so-premium prices. 

You’ll get the lowest rate for these luxury car rentals if you prepay for your reservation; you can still cancel but there will be a fee. If you want to cancel at any time for no charge, plan to pay more. You can sort results by vehicle type (including by models guaranteed to be at your rental location) and by price. Roll the dice with a “Premium Mystery Car” to see what you end up driving away with.

Sixt also has “car subscriptions,” which give you a monthly rate on car rentals. If you’re somewhere for longer, this can be an interesting option.

Note that although Sixt is in this list because of its luxury-car specialization, some past renters suggest that you carefully video or photograph any issues on your rental car before you leave the lot, since there are reports of Sixt claiming damage that renters claim was already on the cars.

9. RentCars

The homepage of the car rental booking site RentCars
RentCars focuses on budget-friendly car rentals from more than 180 car rental agencies around the world (Credit: RentCars)

What RentCars Does Best

RentCars makes it easy to find cheap rental cars at lots of locations around the world. It also has a clear breakdown of the starting price for each car size.

Details of RentCars’ Search Function

Car rental comparison site RentCars offers budget-friendly car rentals from more than 200 companies at more than 20,000 pick-up points in some 160 countries around the world. Search results can be filtered by price or by recommended suppliers that are well-rated by customers (the default). 

Results offer specifics on whether you can pick up your car at the airport or if you need to take a shuttle, as well as if prepayment is necessary. At the top of the page is a breakdown of the starting price for each car size if you’re in need of a specific type or want to compare prices for different categories. You can further filter your comparison search results by total price range, car type, and suppliers.

10. Auto Europe

Screenshot of car rental rate display on Auto Europe
Auto Europe displays results in a matrix that allow you to scan by car size and provider (Photo: Auto Europe)

What Auto Europe Does Best

Auto Europe charges no booking or change fees, and operates in a wide range of countries.

Details of Auto Europe’s Car Rental Search

An established leader for car rental deals in Europe and beyond, Auto Europe has been connecting travelers with cheap rental cars for more than 60 years and offers rental vehicles in more than 20,000 locations and more than 180 countries. It works with all the big names like Avis, Budget Rent a Car, and Hertz, and offers free cancellation up to 48 hours before your rental as well as 24/7 customer support.

Search results are displayed in an easy-to-read table organized by car type and supplier. The first column shows the cheapest car rental rate available rate for each car size, and the chart makes it clear if the rental would be picked up at the airport or an off-site location. Results can be further filtered by transmission type, number of car doors, and whether the car has air-conditioning or not.

The cheapest rental prices are broken down by what they include (or don’t) and there are options to add insurance coverage. The site also has a useful info page on the various car rental insurance options for renting cars in Europe. Additionally, Auto Europe offers price matching if you find a better rate for a comparable vehicle with the same terms, locations, and rental car fees.

Note that if you have a problem with your booking when you’re on vacation, it’s vital to reach out to Auto Europe and have the company manage the issue rather than deal directly with the rental counter where you’re picking up or dropping off your car.

Tips for Finding the Cheapest Car Rental

Is finding the lowest price the biggest factor in your rental car search? Do you need a car big enough for lots of kids and luggage? Are you willing to head to a car rental site away from the airport, or do you want to be able to stroll from the terminal right to your ride? These kinds of considerations impact the rental car options you’ll turn up—and the price you’ll pay for them.

You’ll find some overlap when using the top comparison sites because many of them aggregate results from the same rental car companies and travel booking sites like Expedia and Priceline. But it’s also possible to find some of the best car rental deals by taking advantage of the different sites’ specialized search features and filters.

FIND A DEAL: 12 Best Hotel Booking Sites for Cheap Prices

There are a lot of comparison and booking sites out there, all purporting to be the best place to rent a car. In our extensive testing and comparisons on car rental prices across all the best car rental sites, though, we found that there is no one single “best” site for deals. When shopping for a weekly rental car at multiple airport locations in the U.S. and Europe, we turned up a wide range of results for different car sizes—and in some cases the economy or compact size wasn’t even the cheapest car rental option available.

Still, although no single price comparison site will offer the best rates every time, each of the top car rental sites offers unique features that can help you search for and filter results in the ways that best fit your travel style and needs. Here are some key tips to keep in mind when looking for the best car rental deals.

1. Comparison shop for cheap car rentals across different car rental booking sites

To find the most affordable car rental, search for the kind of vehicle you need on booking sites like AutoRentals, RentalCars.com, and the other comparison sites reviewed here, but also check individual car rental agencies from big-name brands like Hertz and Alamo. Results can vary when booking a rental car, even among sites that are part of the same group of companies.

Many rental car agreements don’t require pre-payment and also allow free cancellation, so you can keep looking for deals even after you book to see if anything better turns up. Rental car rates are often cheaper when booked last-minute, so if price is a major consideration, keep searching until just before your trip.

FAMILY CAR RENTALS: The Most Common Car Rental Problems for Families (and How to Solve Them)

2. Take advantage of credit card points and car rental company loyalty programs

Using travel credit cards and joining the loyalty programs for the top rental car companies (as well as car rental comparison sites like Priceline and RentCars) can give you access to deals and other special rewards. And when you download and use a rental car company’s app, you can also sometimes find special deals on affordable rentals.

3. Think beyond the airport when booking a car rental

Yes, it’s super convenient to pick up a rental car right at the airport—and if that level of convenience really matters to you, the higher price you’ll pay can be worth it. But you can save some serious money if you’re willing to pick up your rental car at another location.

One recent analysis found that it’s about 26 percent more expensive to rent a car at the airport versus at a nearby offsite location. That’s because rental car companies have to pay fees to the airport for use of that location, and naturally they pass those fees on to travelers. Some states in the U.S. also charge additional tourism fees on cars that are rented from sites at airports and hotels.

4. The cheapest rental car company for your trip may not be one of the big brands

Many of the best car rental deals we found in our test came from brands without the name recognition of more widely known companies like Avis or Enterprise. These include companies such as Kyte, which delivers and picks up your rental wherever you choose and operates in a number of U.S. cities; Zezgo, which has locations at several Florida airports; and Fox Rent-A-Car, which has 21 corporate locations in U.S. cities like Las Vegas, Orlando, and Los Angeles, plus affiliate relationship with independently owned locations around the world.

Generally speaking, the best places to rent a car online include customer ratings of the different providers, so you’ll can have a good idea what to expect from the cheapest car rental options. That said, it’s always a good idea to view user-generated online reviews with a critical eye. Professional organizations such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) can help you learn more about any rental car company you’re not already familiar with.

More from FamilyVacationist:

Beth Luberecki
Beth Luberecki is a Florida-based freelance writer who writes about travel, business, and lifestyle topics for a variety of publications and websites. She enjoys exploring destinations close to home and farther afield with her husband and teenage daughter. Visit her website at bethluberecki.com or find her on Instagram at @bethlubereckiwrites and @findingfloridafun.