Rental car rates, demand soar in summer months

Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 3:27 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - If you’re looking to rent a car for any upcoming road trips, book now. That’s AAA’s advice as rental costs spike alongside demand.

The association has been warning drivers to expect more drivers on the roads this summer.

If you want to be one of the many who are finally getting out of the house and behind the wheel of a rental, it might be better to book sooner than later.

“Car rental companies sold off inventory because they weren’t renting cars. Auto sales slowed down because people weren’t buying cars, and now there’s a shortage of those semi-conductor chips needed to manufacture new cars,” said Martha Mead with AAA, adding that those three reasons are converging at a time when demand is soaring.

AutoMax Rent-a-Car on West Broad Street has been busy since before Memorial Day.

“June, July, and August is our peak season. A lot of those months are already sold out,” said Shakeil Saunders with AutoMax. “I can’t take a deposit unless something is physically on the ground.”

Most of their sedans are hot commodities in the summer months, and most people are extending their standard week-long rentals.

“I’ve had weeks where I’ve had 100 cars due back in that 7-day period, and only get a handful,” Saunders said.

This also means a rise in rental rates. AAA reports most shops have doubled their prices, averaging more than $130 per day.

“Some places that are harder hit are seeing even bigger increases: prices from $250 to $600 or more,” Meade said.

To save the headache, AAA says book early and perhaps be open to changing travel dates if needed, or even use off-airport rental shops if you are flying in to your destination.

“They may have more availability. The demand may be a little bit less, it’s a little bit more inconvenient, but you may find a car,” Saunders said.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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