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As my kids excitedly remind me almost every day, our trip to Hawaii is just around the corner! It’s time to nail down our Hawaii car rental for the first segment of our trip in Kauai.
The price of a car rental changes so much in the months and weeks leading up to a trip. I rarely keep the first car rental reservation we make, as usually we find better deals closer to our departure. A car rental reservation definitely requires some monitoring and oversight if you want to get the best deal.
I booked an intermediate size car last fall just to have something reserved for the price of $308 for six days. We prefer a minivan, but the prices were $100 more. I was hoping that I could get the price lowered for our Hawaii car rental by checking out some of the strategies from Leana’s post on getting the best deal on car rentals.
Miles and Points for Hawaii Car Rental
I would love to use my existing stash of miles and points for a free car rental. In the past, I’ve used points from the Capital One Venture card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card to erase the cost of a car rental. However, we no longer have the Arrival Plus cards and I used my Capital One Venture points for other expenses.
Next, I turned to my American Airlines miles. Since I have two AA credit cards (through Citi and Barclaycard), I can log in to useaamiles.com to get discounted rates not available to non-cardholders.
I found a minivan rental for 4067 AA miles per night, or 24,402 miles for our total time in Kauai. The hitch with using AA miles for a car rental is that you have to pay for taxes and fees. My estimate for taxes is $75-$80 based on what I see with cash prices.
We could also use our Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book a Hawaii car rental. My husband still has his Chase Sapphire Reserve card which lets us use points in the UR portal to book travel at 1.5cents per point. The cost for a minivan is 2806 UR points per day, or 16,836 UR points for our rental period. However, we hope to use our UR points for domestic flights this summer, so I’m reluctant to use them for this rental.
Costco and Discount Hawaii Car Rentals
When I read Hawaii travel forums, the two biggest players in the Hawaii car rental market are Costco and Discount Hawaii Car Rentals. I checked out both options.
In the fall when I booked our car rental placeholder, Discount Hawaii Car Rentals had the lowest prices. The prices were lower than Priceline or CarRentals.com. I was thrilled to discover that the price of an intermediate car had dropped almost $100 since the fall, and a minivan was only $50 more for the duration. Spending $50 more for the week for the extra space of a minivan is so worth it for us. I booked it!
I checked Costco, but the prices were much higher.
I had never used AutoSlash before, but based on Leana’s experience and the recommendations from other readers, I had to give it a try.
If you’re not familiar with AutoSlash, it’s a site that scours the internet for promo codes and the lowest rates. It uses published promo codes from car rental websites as well as special discount codes for memberships like AAA, Costco and airline mileage programs.
I put our trip information into the form on AutoSlash and had to wait for an email with the results. I was skeptical that AutoSlash could get us a better rate than Discount Hawaii Car Rental. But I was wrong!
Just a few minutes later, I received an email with two options that were $35 cheaper for the same minivan through Priceline. The rates did not require pre-payment or a credit card deposit. Sold! I booked it.
I canceled my reservation with Discount Hawaii Car Rentals. I then input my new reservation into the price tracker form at AutoSlash so that I can be notified if there are any cheaper rates before my trip.
So by babysitting our Hawaii car rental reservation, I was able to get a bigger car for $78 cheaper than our original reservation. Score!
Oahu Rental Car?
My family will spend the last four days of our trip in Oahu at Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa. Most hotels on Oahu charge a nightly parking fee, and Aulani is no exception. The cost is $37 a night. Ouch!
Because we already visited Oahu and had adventures on all sides of the island, we decided to skip the rental car for this trip. We are planning on relaxing during our final days of the trip and only leaving the resort for surfing lessons nearby.
Aulani has five restaurants on-site, and we have a $200 resort credit for our stay that we can use. There is also a grocery store across the street as well as several restaurants within walking distance. Not having a car should not be an issue. However, we still need to get to and from the airport.
Uber is now in Hawaii. We could reserve an UberXL to/from the airport for around $90 each way.
However, I found the cheapest rates with Charley’s Taxi. It has flat rates from the airport to Aulani for $55 each way. I was able to call and reserve a minivan for five people at that rate.
Transportation for our Hawaii trip is done! Now I can move on to more fun stuff, like reading about the best food in Kauai and dreaming about eating a slice of hula pie.
Readers: Since many of you have traveled to Hawaii, did you rent a car? Where did you find the best deal on a car rental? Have you tried AutoSlash?
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Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.
City Living (Boston) says
Choosing car rental places always stresses me out! Thanks for sharing where you looked. I had no idea Costco had car rentals! You learn something new every day in the land of blogs 🙂
Sarah Belanger says
I had no idea you could get car rentals through Costco. Learn something new every day! Thanks!
Costco is like a travel agent–you can even book a cruise through Costco!
If you are able to use corporate rate codes through your employer, you can save a ton of money in Hawaii and other high-priced areas. Why? Many corporate contracts negotiate a flat rate (like $40/day or $200/wk for intermediate, often including insurance) so the price in Minneapolis is the same as Maui. Bonus tip: if you have a World Elite MasterCard (like the no-fee GM BuyPower or $450 fee Citi Prestige) you can get free mid-tier status with National, Avis, Hertz, and Sixt. This is great with National because can pick your car from the Executive Aisle which often has large family-friendly SUVs/cars/luxury cars for the same price as an intermediate (even if the location doesn’t have the Aisle, you often get upgraded).
@Erik That’s great if your employer has a good negotiated discount!
I have used Costco for my rental cars in Maui and Kauai and found Budget to be the lowest. I used Autoslash to track the prices, but it always came back with Hertz (which had horrible reviews and my friends have had bad experiences with them in Hawaii) so I never rebooked.
@Stephanie I’m glad you got a good deal through Costco! We will be trying Thrifty for the first time this trip. We don’t rent cars frequently so we’re not loyal to one brand.
Great options, If only I was in Hawaii ahaha #dreamtrip
@Mimi Between airline sales and miles and points, getting to Hawaii is easier than you may think!
Leigh Suznovich says
This is really helpful for when we plan our own trip to Hawaii. Sounds like it will be a wonderful trip, enjoy it!!
Thank you, Leigh!
Ian Snyder says
This is where my carefully saved Hertz points came in handy. I used 2,750 plus $80 in taxes for our week in Maui coming up in a few months.
@Ian Nice! Maui is next on my Hawaii bucket list.
Sounds like it will be an amazing trip and that your hard work has really paid off!
@mammascookinggf Thank you, I can’t wait!