Don’t Do This Sneaky Move to Save Money on 1-Way Car Rentals

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I’ve written a series on ways to spend less on car rentals and about using AutoSlash to monitor your rental reservations for price drops.

It can be more difficult to save money on 1-way car rentals.  That’s when you rent a car at 1 location, but return it to another.

But some folks reduce the cost of a 1-way rental by using corporate codes published on sites like MapHappy or FlyerTalk.

Note:   You should only use the codes if you’re qualified!

The Sneaky Way To Save Money On 1 Way Car Rentals

Want to Rent From Point A to Point B? You Could Save Money Using Car Rental Corporate Codes, but Be Careful!

I’ll explain how some folks are using these codes to reduce the price of a 1-way rental.

What’s the Deal?

Link:   MapHappy Car Rental Corporate Codes

Link:   FlyerTalk Car Rental Corporate Codes

With 1-way rentals, car rental companies have to factor in the cost of (eventually) getting the vehicle back to where it belongs.  So you often have to pay hundreds of dollars more just to return your car to another location!

Many car rental companies add a drop-off fee or mileage charge to 1-way rentals.  And some build the extra cost into the base rate of the rental.

For example, the base rate for a 4-day economy rental in Austin (drop-off and pick-up in same location) with National Car Rental in May is ~$210.  With taxes and fees, you’d pay ~$304.

The Sneaky Way To Save Money On 1 Way Car Rentals

You’ll Pay ~$304 Total for a Round-Trip Rental in Austin

But renting the exact same vehicle on the same dates 1-way between Austin and Las Vegas costs more than double!  The base rate is ~$594, and you’ll pay ~$794 including taxes and fees!  Ouch!

The Sneaky Way To Save Money On 1 Way Car Rentals

NOT Big Travel With Small Money – A 1-Way Rental Between Austin and Las Vegas Costs Over Twice as Much

However, some organizations, like universities, large companies, or travel discount clubs offer their members discount codes with different rental companies.  You can find lists of corporate codes on MapHappy and on FlyerTalk.

Note:   You should only use a code if you’re eligible!  That said, check with organizations you belong to because they might have a code you’re unaware of.

I tested 1 of the corporate codes listed on those sites for the same rental from Austin to Las Vegas.  On the National Car Rental website, I entered the code in the “Contract ID” box.


Enter the Corporate Code When You Search for a Rental

The base price of the rental dropped to ~$161!  With tax, the total comes to ~$241!  You’d save ~70%!

And, oddly, the rental now includes 9 additional drivers for free!

The Sneaky Way To Save Money On 1 Way Car Rentals

NINE Additional Drivers? I Didn’t Realize This Was the “Clown Car” Corporate Code 😉

You could save a LOT of money using corporate codes.  But there’s a catch!

These Codes Aren’t Meant for Everyone

Most of the codes published online are only meant for use by members of certain organizations or company employees.  For example, the code I used in the example above is meant for Ohio State University faculty, staff, students, and retirees.

That said, rental car companies don’t often ask for proof of eligibility or identification.  And if you’re a member of some car rental loyalty programs, you don’t even have to speak to anyone at the counter to pick up your rental.

The Car Rental Company Might Get Very Angry If They Discover You Used 1 of These Codes Without Being Qualified

This method is risky because if you’re caught, they could deny your rental!  And you’d be stuck without a rental car reservation.  If the company finds out, they may also charge you the regular price.

But there’s another reason to be very careful if you choose to do this.

Watch for Included Insurance

Some of these codes include car rental insurance.  Sounds like a great deal, right?

You actually want to AVOID codes that include insurance.  That’s because if you get into an accident or have to file a claim, you’ll likely be exposed for using a corporate code you did NOT qualify for.

And that could lead to huge out-of-pocket expenses and other headaches!  I wouldn’t want to find out what legal action the car rental company would take in this case.

The Sneaky Way To Save Money On 1 Way Car Rentals

D’Oh! Using Codes That Include Insurance Could Cause Big Problems Down the Road

If you choose to go this route, it’s better to use your own personal insurance or primary rental insurance from credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Check out my post on credit cards that offer primary auto rental insurance, and what folks should do if they don’t have their own personal car insurance.

It’s up to you to decide whether you’re willing to accept the risks involved using corporate codes you don’t qualify for.  I would NOT take the risk (even to save several hundred dollars), but many folks use this technique with great success.

As always, do what you’re comfortable with.

Bottom Line

One-way car rentals can be very expensive, but some folks use corporate codes found online at places like MapHappy and FlyerTalk to reduce the cost.  Sometimes by hundreds of dollars!

This method is risky because you might be asked to prove that you’re eligible to use the code.  And if you can’t, you could lose your rental!

And you should avoid codes that include rental insurance, because if you have an accident, you could be in a lot of trouble.

I’ve never used 1 of these codes and I don’t recommend it.  But you should decide for yourself what you’re comfortable with.

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18 responses to “Don’t Do This Sneaky Move to Save Money on 1-Way Car Rentals

  1. Just out of curiosity, before you publish a post, do you ever take a second to think if you should or not?

  2. You do realize that you are providing explicit directions on how to commit fraud, right?

  3. Probably ought to replace the word “sneaky” with “fraudulent”.

  4. Lol I really enjoy your post but this one is risky and probably illegal.

  5. Jake from MSP

    Really going for the moral high ground with this post, huh?

    Saying something is risky, does not absolve you from responsibility. Interestingly enough, providing instructions on how to defraud a company as an educational tool, without informing the company of your “good intent” (ex: IT Security researchers/hackers), can actually be a criminal offense. And if one of your readers gets caught, and implicates your site? Then you’re lookin at conspiracy to defraud a commercial entity. Might want to ask your lawyer on this one…

    Source: My JD

  6. Thanks for the tips on how to be a big scumbag with small money!

  7. “Many people” are engaged in all kinds of fraud. The fact that they are successful with this one isn’t surprising. Probably the same people who swindled my elderly mom out of a couple thousand on a roof job a few years back.

  8. This reminds me of a great “travel hack” I use to save money when dining out. Sometimes after an expensive meal I’ll order dessert and when the waiter turns around I’ll run out of the restaurant. Lots of folks do it but it can be a risky strategy if you get caught.

  9. This is despicable and dishonest. It’s not “sneaky.” I’m very disappointed to see this on your site and I am unfollowing as a result. Wonder what your credit card sponsors think of this brilliant trick?

    For those who think it’s a great idea, think again. I know someone who used a similar plot with a hotel chain and when they asked for ID, he couldn’t verify his employment with the company entitled to the discount. Ended up paying rack rate of 600/night for the week instead of 199.

  10. You can disagree with the post but why attack the author. Obviously you come to this site and have benefited. How about a little more respect. Oh and I am pretty sure the credit cards you sign up for to receive miles were not intended by the issuer to be handed out so you could cancel after the first year and cash in on free travel. Are you being a scumbag?

    Source: Me

  11. Robert Hanson

    @ Evan +1

  12. Evan, because it’s fraud – plain and simple. He didn’t HAVE to post this and shouldn’t have. I know some of this miles and points hobby is borderline unethical, but this is beyond being a little “sneaky”. I’m pretty disappointed in what I consider one of the two or three best travel blogs out there.

  13. @ Evan

    >> Oh and I am pretty sure the credit cards you sign up for to receive miles were not intended by the issuer to be handed out so you could cancel after the first year and cash in on free travel. Are you being a scumbag?

    Uh, huge difference there. Signing up for a credit card and cancelling it after the first year doesn’t involve fraud. This isn’t about the other party’s intent. Credit card issuers also intend for you to carry a balance and pay interest charges and late fees. Paying your bill on time doesn’t make you a scumbag, right?

    What would be equivalent to this would be getting approved for credit cards you might not otherwise qualify for by lying about your income, employment, etc. I’ll even put signing up for the Ameriprise Amex while not an Ameriprise customer in this same bucket. I know a few blogs have promoted that.

    Do you understand the difference now?

  14. Sneaky, risky, fraudulent, and unethical? Not worth it.

  15. Hey, LIGHTEN UP, everybody! Daraius is teaching us to think outside the box. With this post, he inspired me to check with my own university alumni club, and discovered that as a member I’m eligible for LEGITIMATE access to a code that gets me this kind of favoured deal. Wouldn’t have known to check but for this really valuable post.

  16. Douglas E. Little

    Hey Big D.,

    Good post. Perhaps you should have chosen your words more carefully when you mentioned the use of codes to secure a much better price on one way car rentals. I’m fairly certain you had no real intention on handing out information that would implicate you in a fraud. In fact, I strongly suspect you merely wanted to alert your readers to the fact that codes exist and where they might be found. Me, I’m going to look for business and university and boarding school affiliations that might work for me should the one way booking opportunity ever arise. Knowledge is power.

  17. Thanks GG, and Douglas for setting these small-minded people straight.

    Come on, if someone has to spoon feed you the idea that there is a legitimate educational purpose to the above..
    Then – you REALLY need to THINK OUT OF THE BOX.

    “Sneaky, risky, fraudulent, and unethical?” No, not if you can find a code applicable to you.
    I think a number of people with sub 100 IQs, still haven’t figured out since the invention of the printing press, that catchy headlines – SELL.
    AFTER ALL, everyone of you – Clicked on the Headline!!! Which tells me that all the complainers, are actually fakes.
    In my experience, people who are the first to accuse others, are actually the people doing the bad deeds.

    NOW – For example, did you know that AAA and COSTCO have these codes? And probably, 100% of all large employers.
    How many MILLIONS of people don’t even know they should be paying LESS, ALL LEGALLY!
    Thanks, Daraius!

    PS the above is not “instructions on how to defraud a company as an educational tool”, as the author did not list the actual codes.
    The above is simply a restatement of well known information, in the public domain.

    Also: Note that rental companies give these codes out to millions of employees to garner more business.
    One reason they don’t check these codes – is because that would actually drive business away in the long run.

    Believe me, if it was hurting their bottom line, they could easily ask for proof of membership, every time.

    So don’t cry for the car rental companies… Example: Forbes #16 “Enterprise Holdings” has Revenue of $19.4 BILLION!!
    Not so shabby – I think they know how to run their business, without a peanut gallery.

    Now, unless you are unemployed and living on welfare, I bet you can find a code that applies to you.

  18. Enterprise Holdings has REVENUE (ie sales) of $19.4 Billion.
    However, that’s not their net income. As a private company they don’t reveal income numbers, but it’s reasonable in such a competitive market to assume similar income to others.

    Here’s Hertz:
    Income 273M on sales of 10535M last year, i.e. 2.6% profit margin.
    That’s BARELY squeaking by. Any “hit” and they’d be losing money.