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The Tip

Book a rental car outside the airport


Renting a car at your vacation destination? Check out the rates at the rental agencies outside the airport. We recently rented a car in Florida for $224.67 at the off-airport location of a name-brand company. The same rental would have cost $386.49 if we had picked up the car at the company’s airport location, a difference of $161.82. That’s a lot of Key lime pie! Our rental car was about 10 miles from the airport, so we took a taxi ($32). Taking a bus — another option — would have been even cheaper.

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Why the big difference? According to Clem Bason, president of the Hotwire Group, “Car rental agencies that are on-airport have to charge more fees and higher taxes, which can really drive up the final price of your rental.” Bason’s advice is to shop, compare, and book, but keep an eye on rates. “Reserve now, and keep checking prices on sites like and as you get closer to your travel date. . . . If last-minute deals become available, you can cancel your original reservation [without paying a fee] and book the discounted rate.”

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