The cost of travel has drastically changed in the past three years due to the pandemic and inflation. Flights and accommodations were once the most expensive part of planning a trip, but there’s a new sheriff in town. 

Car rentals are quickly becoming one of the biggest travel expenses, taking up a large chunk of a traveler’s budget. 


According to the latest set of Consumer Price Index data released this month, rental cars are up 48% from July 2019 to July 2022. To put things in perspective, airfare is up 16% and hotel prices only 7%.

Related: Travel Demands Lead To A Chaotic Summer For Flights And Car Rentals

Why did rental car prices surge?

The prices of rental cars dropped in April and May of 2020. It was the height of the pandemic and people weren’t traveling as much. However, at the beginning of 2021, people started taking more road trips and prices slowly increased monthly. July 2021 marked a record high for car rental prices.

Are there affordable rental cars?

Although the cost of rental cars has increased, there are still affordable options. According to an analysis by NerdWallet, Enterprise is the cheapest car rental company and National is the most costly. 

NerdWallet also found that renting last minute could work in your favor and are cheaper than reservations booked in advance. Car rentals at the airport are more expensive than off-site car rental locations. 

Hacks for saving money on car rentals

One of the best ways to save money on your next car rental is to utilize travel credit cards. Look for credit cards that offer rental car insurance, this will save you money.

Related: 50 Ways To Save Money While On Vacation