Cheap Car Rentals: Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price”

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[Disclosure:  Emily and I get a referral if you sign-up for Top Cash Back using our link.  You will get 3% cash back if you go to Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” through Top Cash Back.]

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I’ve used Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” to bid for cheap car rentals.

However, it takes a bit of work to determine the best price to bid for Priceline, but more importantly, you can’t cancel or modify a Priceline “Name Your Own Price” reservation.   So this is useful only if you know that your plans won’t change.

Priceline's Name Your Own PRice

Priceline’s Name Your Own Price

You can get an additional 3% cash back if you click through to Priceline using Top Cash Back.

Lately, I’ve had better luck with the Ultimate Rewards & Capital One Portal and Costco car rentals.

Cheap Car Rentals Series:

Priceline “Name Your Own Price” Quirks

You can’t use “Name Your Own Price” to rent cars at non-airport locations and for 1-way rentals.  And you can’t cancel or change your reservation, so don’t make a booking if you’re not 100% sure of your plans!

How To Use Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price”

Lately, I haven’t been using Priceline as much as I used to because I almost always find lower rates through the Ultimate Rewards & Capital One portals and Costco car rentals.

Step 1 – Find the Lowest Price Elsewhere

Since Priceline reservations can’t be cancelled or changed, you should make a Priceline reservation only if it is lower than reservations elsewhere.

You can spend a lot of time searching and searching for the lowest possible rate, but I usually limit myself to Ultimate Rewards & Capital One portals, Costco car rentals & Hotwire.

You can also check Bidding For Travel & BetterBidding to see winning bids in the cities you plan on visiting.

Step 2 – Make a Bid

Go to Priceline’s Name Your Own Price and make a bid.

I usually enter a TOTAL price which is 20% less than what I can find elsewhere.  And don’t forget to click through Top Cash Back to get 3% cash back.

However, Priceline adds a lot of taxes and fees (30% to 50%+) to the reservation, so sometimes it takes trial and error when entering the DAILY car rental rate to get a TOTAL price which is 20% less than elsewhere.

For example, if I want to bid $115 for a 6 day rental in Tampa, I shouldn’t enter $19 or $115/6 as the price I’m willing to pay per day.


Enter Per Day Price

Instead, I should enter ~$10 per day, and in the next screen I’ll see that the TOTAL price which I’m bidding is ~$115.


Make Sure That Total Price is What You’re Willing to Pay

If your bid is accepted, great!  Otherwise, you have to wait 24 hours to make another bid, unless you change the car category for which you’re bidding.  So it helps to start with the smallest car category and work your way to the largest category which you’d consider renting.

However, if you are traveling with family or friends, you can make another bid sooner than 24 hours by having someone else log into his or her Priceline account and making a bid.

Sometimes Priceline will make you an offer, but I usually don’t take the offer and wait until I can make another bid.  Priceline will also try to steer you towards making a higher bid than you otherwise would, but stick to the price which you researched!

See this post for screenshots on how to use Priceline’s Name Your Own Price for car rentals.

Bottom Line

If you have the time it doesn’t hurt to research and bid for a car rental using Priceline’s Name Your Own Price for car rentals.


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33 responses to “Cheap Car Rentals: Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price”

  1. If I book through Priceline, will I still receive status benefits?

  2. Priceline is my favorite way to rent cars still. We rented a car in San Francisco for four days for much cheaper than the going rate. You can enter a very low price and then slowly inch it up by $5 every 24 hours to make sure you get the lowest possible. Takes time, but I am so happy when I get a good deal that it’s worth it!

    • @schmerj – You don’t receive any elite benefits for reserving through Priceline.

      @The Miles Professor – That used to be my experience with Priceline as well, but lately I’ve got better rates through the Ultimate Rewards & Capital One portal.

  3. I routinely save 50% using Priceline. I have a blog post about my bidding strategy that people may find useful. I think if you are only saving 20% you are not using Priceline effectively.

  4. Scott’s blog post has some good further advice regarding priceline car bidding.

    Frankly, though, if you’re willing to devote another 15 minutes to the effort, you can usually (but not always) do better by employing the various discount codes found on the web (I usually go to Flyertalk for them). Some of those codes can be a bit sketchy, so use your own discretion, but the advantage is usually a cheaper rate and one that is changeable without penalty. You also get the benefits of the frequent renter programs, which are considerable (if you’re an Emerald Aisle member, you’ll know what I’m talking about).

    If you don’t want to spend the extra minutes, Priceline is usually a good alternative. And, occasionally, the Priceline rates beat the code rates (although infrequently).

  5. Do you happen to know what the Priceline fee is for rental cars? For hotel rooms it is $5 per day. They key thing with car rentals is not the daily rate but the total including taxes and fees.

  6. Priceline is cheap, however lately I’ve found much cheaper then priceline.

  7. just booked one yesterday with this. UltimateRewards shows lowest to be $60 total, and I got it for less than $25 total on Priceline.

  8. FYI, If you prefer FatWallet, they do the same 3% on cars and 4.5-5% on hotels ( .

    About 95% of the time, the best rates I get is through my corporate account with Budget. It is almost always about 10% less than typical discounts like a coupon code from Southwest and often a huge savings when dealing with peak holidays or oneway rentals.

    If you own a small business with a decent amount of car rental traffic, you could set up your own corporate account. Or, I am always looking for interns 🙂

  9. Two days ago I booked a midsize car for our upcoming trip to Vegas via Priceline for $20/day. I was jazzed about it for that price! At the time, I didn’t expect my bid to be accepted at $20/day, but to my surprise they did. If I had it to do over again, I think i’d have offered a lower price to start and bid up from there. Either way however, I still feel good about getting a car at that price and will most likely use Priceline again in the future for booking my rental cars.

  10. you can get some really good rates on priceline..just be aware that timing is as major factor as anything..prices for cars(during not busy seasons) might be alot cheaper right before your rental…..also helpful to use all those prepaid visas with like 0.50$ on it for some test bids…

    don’t be afraid to bid low on the more bigger better cars..usually the companies try to give them away alot of times cheaper then the econ/compact

  11. Daraius:

    I use to rent cars in Europe. They are a broker and deal with many rental agencies. They will beat any advertised price and their fees are MUCH less then the rental companies. Ex: renting a compact car out of BCN cost $130 in fees thru the rental agencies, but only $65 thru AE. Also, can cancel with no penalty and customer service is excellent. Their prices are better than ANY of the alternatives.

    • @Scott – 50% off the base price or total price? And what are you comparing it to?

      @iahphx – Coming up soon!

      @Fishing4Deals – I believe the total price includes all fees.

      @Jason @S – Searching for rental cars is frustrating in that there is no ONE place with the best rates. You have to keep searching.

      @Dave (from Free Travel Genius) @Bitachu @Marshall – Thanks for the tips!

      @Theresa – It doesn’t hurt to start low, but as long as you got a price which works for you!

  12. 50% total price compared to the rack rate. The 50% number is an average. I have saved as much as 60% and as little as 35-40%, but more often then not I am around the 50% mark. How much I save largely depends on the demand for rental cars in the market I am traveling to. I try to travel during shoulder season, for the most part, which is probably why I do so well with Priceline.

  13. Hi Darius, I’m trying to find the links to the other posts in this car rental topic. Great topic btw! But… have you not finished all the different ones? I’m looking for the one on using airline points in particular… As you add the new posts, it would be helpful if you put the link to the post in all of the previous ones’ “Table of contents” area… otherwise, it’s difficult to find the new posts… thanks!!

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  19. I got a car in New York La Guardia airport for $35 a day from Sat 5pm to Tues 5am.
    On SW the lowest rate was $96 total.
    However, they added about $15 a day taxes and fees which is what kills most NYC rentals.

    So for $50 a day I got a car at my arrival and departure. Try riding the public transportation from Upper Manhattan for 1.5 hours to catch a 6 am flight. So i am happy, never did this before.

    Finding the Hertz rental car return at La Guardia was miserable. iPhone maps did not help, and usually it works great. Lady who checked in car said their rental return location has always been a hassle to find. Maybe that is why I got a deal.

  20. I used Priceline a few weeks ago, I didnt even bid, just took the rate they offered, I paid $397.00 total (fees etc.) for a two week rental of a loaded GMC Acadia. I couldnt touch this price using costco or anyone else, including discount codes etc!

  21. When planning a trip, how close to the departure date should one book a car rental? We are now 7 weeks away from our departure and we are now finally seeing car rates going down for Orlando. Also, do you know why Costco Travel site for car rentals is no longer offering good deals? Right now Costco is $26 per day vs $14 on Hotwire. In the past I could always find the lowest price at Costco but not this year.

    • @john – That’s a good deal!

      @Connie – You can also try for good rates. I usually lock in a refundable rate and then keep looking so that I don’t get stressed out if rates increase (instead of decreasing) as it gets closer to the departure date.

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  23. There the best

  24. I am interested in renting a car for our vacation through Priceline but I need to be sure that I am going to get a large SUV like a Tahoe or something like it to seat 6-7 people how can I be sure I will get that size vehicle? Has anyone anyone ever had a problem where they reserved a very large SUV but got a small car? Your comments are truly appreciated! Thanks

  25. I want to use Priceline, this is my first time. But it seems like a scam to me?
    I bid the lowest first, I started with $10, and then it just takes me to a summary of charges page! I’m renting a car for 20 days starting on January 26TH 2015. The total says $298 and that’s with taxes and fees included and it just gives me the option of paying now for it, But it seems fake to me ,And I don’t feel comfortable putting my credit card info on there and stuff. Am I missing something here? Will someone explain how this works, It’ll be so helpful! Thanks!

  26. How inflexible is using Priceline for car rentals. For example, I have reserved a car for 2:00 PM on day 1, returning at 2:00 PM on day 5. If I actually get my car at 2:45 PM, do I have until 2:45 PM to return the car? (I’ve pre-paid for the car rental using the name your price option). Will the rental car company (National) honor the contract if I pick up a bit later than planned as in this example?

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  28. For Maui rentals I have for the last 5 years I have bid 50% less than whats offered on priceline. I also make a reservation with no deposit at budget or dollar. Every year my bid (or close to it) is accepted 2-3 days before deparure. I cancel my other resevtion and enjoy the savings