When we catch a flight to Europe from one base in the USA, we
often end up returning on a flight to another base! If we are lucky,
we can catch a second hop to our originating base, but more often
than not, we have to rent a one-way car in order to pick up our
Recently, we tried to hop out of Norfolk but did not make the cut (we are not always
100% successful getting a Space-A flight), so we grabbed a one-way rental car, drove
to McGuire AFB (New Jersey) and caught a hop from there. And when we travel commercially,
we frequently find it more economical to pick up a one-way rental car in our neighborhood
and drop it off at Jacksonville Airport - this is cheaper than taking a taxi or paying
the huge airport parking fees for several weeks.
Over the years, we have found that the most expensive way to rent a car is by walking
up to the airport counter of the rental car company and asking for a vehicle. These
airport car rental agents have plenty of people waiting in line for their cars and
seldom are willing to offer discounts. At a few bases (such as Travis AFB and McGuire
AFB), agents operate out of the Base Exchange, offer good military rates and allow
customers to drop the key and car off right at the passenger terminal. A pity this
is not available at every base!
National call centers (1-800 toll free) of the car rental companies are eager to
book cars, are open “24/7,” and are very willing to work with us for the best rates.
Of course, they try to sell more by asking if we want a full-size car, or one with
a GPS, or one which includes a provision so that we can return the carwith/without
a full tank of gas. I also decline the rental car company’s insurance because my
credit card automatically provides coverage. I firmly tell the agent, I WANT THE
LOWEST COST CAR WE CAN ARRANGE WITH UNLIMITED MILEAGE.
Don’t forget to ask for discounts! When booking a car, be sure to ask for a special
price. There are discounts for membership in AAA, USAA, AARP, MOAA, COSTCO, etc.
Most agents are patient and will look up all of these to find out which one is the
best price. Each time I call, I have found that the best price changes from company
to company and day to day! I also check the internet but find that I can do best
by dealing directly by telephone.
While this is not complete, here is a list of some of the companies I have used:
*Mostly only for local rentals or on trips where I can return the car to the agent
where I picked the car up.
**Within Florida, they do not charge drop off fees.
***This company gave me the best deal in Puerto Rico.
Marv & Carole
Carole in front of our rental car at USAS Borinquen, Puerto Rico