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The Cheapest Way to Rent a Car in Hawaiʻi in 2023

The Cheapest Way to Rent a Car in Hawaiʻi in 2023

Published on - 2023-04-07

Renting a car for a week can cost more than a plane ticket. Prices for rental cars have spiked out of control, not just in Hawai’i but across the globe. This is unsurprising considering supply shortages and the rise in post-pandemic “revenge travel,” but many travelers are still left wondering what to do about it.

Fortunately, we know the cheapest ways to rent cars in Hawai’i — and you don’t have to sacrifice vehicle quality or customer service. Here’s our list of the best ways to rent a car without busting your budget.

1. Choose Your Travel Dates Wisely

On Oahu especially, we’re witnessing some of the national airport rental chains running out of inventory even in the off-season. But off-airport companies are usually sitting on some unused vehicles in late spring or early fall. They’d rather get some business than nothing. This is especially true if you’re visiting the Big Island when tourist numbers are low.

If your travel plans are flexible, then consider booking your trip during the “shoulder seasons” of April to June or September to November because it’s the cheapest way to rent a car in Hawai’i.

No matter whether you decide to visit during the peak seasons or off-seasons, make sure you book your rental car as much in advance as possible to get the cheapest rates and avoid surge pricing that happens when you book at the last minute.

2. Compare Prices Before Booking

Nowadays the travel industry bases a lot of its pricing on algorithms. This means the prices for rental cars can differ significantly depending on the dates you book. You might be able to get a cheaper rate after a week or two, so always compare the prices on different dates before the final booking.

A lot of online advice says the cheapest way to rent a car in Hawai’i is to do it far in advance — frankly, this isn’t always true. We often see price fluctuations in the months and weeks leading up to a travel date. If you check prices one week and try again a few weeks later, you may find that the rates have changed in your favor.

Some price comparison aggregators like Expedia and Kayak have inbuilt price trackers that you can use to keep an eye on fluctuations. Of course, there’s always the concern that if you wait too long, the company will sell out. Perhaps the best way to rent a car for cheap is to book with free cancellation so you can switch your reservation if the price drops. Call your rental company to see if they have a price guarantee to match a lower rate if one becomes available.

3. Don’t Rent at the Airport

The advice might be different in some places, but booking your rental car when you land at the airport is definitely not the cheapest way to rent a car in Hawai’i. Many big-name rental car companies at Daniel K. Inouye Airport typically have higher prices due to airport concession fees and other surcharges, which could end up costing you hundreds of dollars extra.

Besides, if you book directly at the airport counter after you’re exhausted from your long flight, it becomes easier for the salesperson to nudge you to spend on unnecessary insurance and extras that you might not need at all.

Any rental car outside the airport will cost you significantly less, so shop around once you’re outside. This leads to the next point — think locally.

4. Book From a Local Company

Skipping airport rentals and national rental chains in lieu of local companies like GoVibe is the cheapest way to rent a car in Hawai’i. With local companies, there are no national supply networks and middlemen driving the costs higher. You’re also far less likely to see hidden charges or surprise fees with local companies. Most of them are trying to build their brand’s reputation and elevate their customer service. That’s why going local is the best way to rent a car here.

GoVibe is committed to fair pricing and rates that are up to 25% lower than national rental companies like Hertz and Enterprise. These savings are made possible with lower overhead, lighter operational expenses, and technology-driven workflows. It pays to shop around.

5. Rent a Smaller Car

Booking the basic, economy vehicle is often the best way to rent a car for cheap whether you’re visiting Hawai’i or anywhere else. If you don’t really need the extra luggage space, then there’s no harm in downsizing and going for the most affordable vehicle.

Families on vacation often choose the largest vehicle out of habit, but if you aren’t planning on driving much anyway — maybe most of your days will be at the beach — sacrificing a little legroom can be one of the cheapest ways to rent a car.

If you trade in that luxury convertible for an economy sedan, you’ll find savings that way, too.

6. Rent for Fewer Days

We’ll be honest. Tourists visiting Hawai’i usually don’t need rental cars for the entire trip. There will be so many places to explore on foot and places to relax near your hotel that you’ll likely spend a lot of time outdoors without using your rental car.

This is why renting for fewer days is the cheapest way to rent a car in Hawai’i. This is especially true if you’ll be spending time in Waikiki where a lot of the places you’ll want to go are walkable.

Most rental companies offer cheaper daily rates if you book for a longer duration, but you don’t have to do that with GoVibe. We allow flexible booking so you can get a car for cheap only for the days when you need it — no pressure to pay more and book for longer durations in the guise of discounts. Plus, we can even deliver your rental car to your hotel on the days you need it!

7. Skip the Insurance

Foregoing the Loss Damage Waiver insurance is one way to rent a car in Hawai’i for cheap. Most credit card companies offer basic collision damage insurance on rental cars if you use their card for booking. Check your contract to figure out what’s covered and what’s not so you aren’t surprised later on, but it is common for credit cards to cover this, especially if they’re advertised as “travel rewards” cards.

Most primary car insurances cover collision damage on rental cars as well, so if you own a car, check to see whether your insurance will cover your rental vehicle or not.

International travelers have fewer options, unfortunately. If you’re not from the US, the loss damage waiver and liability insurance supplement on overseas rental cars may not be covered. Even when it is, there’s typically a limited duration for the coverage, so go through the details of your insurance to find out.

8. Join a Membership Program

Do you travel frequently to Hawai’i? Then the cheapest way for you to rent a car in Hawai’i is to enroll in a membership program of the rental car company you’ll be using regularly. You’ll accrue loyalty points for discounts and special deals for your future visits. Otherwise, if you have a Costco or AAA membership or are part of a frequent-flier program, then you can also leverage that membership for some pretty hefty discounts.

If you travel for business, look into business rental car memberships for perks. Perhaps you’re self-employed or a business owner, but if you don’t have a company expense account picking up the tab, you can still find some deals.

GoVibe’s free membership program comes with benefits such as discount tickets to tourist hotspots, adding another reason why GoVibe is a great way to rent a car in Hawai’i!

9. Stick to a Single Driver

Most rental companies charge $10+ extra per day for any additional drivers besides the renter’s spouse or domestic partner. So if you’re traveling with your friends, then the cheapest way to rent a car in Hawai’i is to stick to one driver only.

If you have a Costco or AAA membership, then you may be eligible to have the additional driver fee waived for some specific car companies. Some rental car companies also waive this fee if you join their membership.

10. Skip the Extras

Unless you absolutely need them! Compare the price of fuel from local gas stations with what your rental car company is offering in their refueling extra to see whether you can get it for cheaper. This is the best way to rent a car in Hawai’i. Skip the navigation device and use your phone instead. And there are no toll roads in Hawai’i, so you won’t need any extras that cover tolls either!

11. Stay Prepared If You’re Traveling Internationally

Many of those visiting Hawai’i are international tourists. At GoVibe, we welcome many travelers from Japan and other nations. If you’re visiting from overseas, then you need to obtain an international driver’s permit before you arrive. This tip isn’t necessarily a way to rent a car in Hawai’i for cheap, but it will save you a lot of frustration and wasted time, effort, and money if you know what to expect before you leave.

GoVibe: The Best Way to Rent a Car in Hawai’i

At GoVibe, we offer the cheapest way to rent a car in Hawai’i with fair pricing that doesn’t compromise on service quality. We offer a VIP experience to all our customers, without exception, with a seamless online booking process that eliminates the nuisance of long waiting lines at the airport counter and mountains of paperwork.

When you book with us, you can also stop worrying about sharing crowded shuttles to reach your rental car because we offer a concierge airport pick-up and drop-off service in Honolulu and Kona, as well as a hotel drop-off and pick-up option for your rental vehicle on the Big Island and Oahu.

GoVibe doesn’t just offer a way to rent a car in Hawai’i but also an unmatched rental experience that you won’t find with other companies. Contact us if you have any questions or reserve your rental car today to make your Hawai’i trip the best one yet!

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