The reality for most of us is that we live too far away to be able to drive to Orlando. Unless we are staying on-site which means taking advantage of the magical express bus service we have to rent a car when we arrive in at MCO.
Priceline.com has a bidding feature that allows you to “name your own price” on rental cars giving us the opportunity to get deep discounts on rentals. The only problem is the Priceline rental car bidding has many rules for its bidding system which makes it confusing for most users. I’ll show you step-by-step how to use Priceline to your advantage to find the best deal on a rental car.
How Priceline.com Works
Priceline allows you to book cars two ways – the first is the standard “search” option which pulls published rates at a slight discount. These rates are generally what you will be able to find either on the rental car company’s website or on other search sites.
When rental car companies have unbooked cars or are forecasting that rentals will be lighter during certain times they will go to sites like Priceline.com to help get rentals in even at a steep discount. Now the car companies don’t want to advertise these low rates because there are chances people will continue to book at the retail rates.
That is why you won’t see the car company names up until you’re actually booked.
So now that we know how Priceline.com works, how do we go about getting our rental car for a bargain?
1. Priceline Rental Car Bidding Research
Our first order of business when bidding for cars on Priceline is to do some research into what are some of the recent winning bids on cars. This will help us get an idea on what to start out our bidding at to make sure that we get the absolute best deal possible for our car.
My favorite site to go to is called Bidding for Travel which is dedicated to helping people get the best bids on Priceline.com and similar sites. This site can be used to see what recent hotel bids have been won in certain cities but for this post we’ll be taking a look at the car rental section.
We’ll take a in the Orlando rental cars section to get an idea of what successful bids people have been getting.
Taking a glance through the forums we can se that rentals in June for an SUV have gone for $15 a day, up to $30 a day so quite a range there.
What you’ll want to do is find someone that has had a successful bid accepted in the time range that you’re looking for and a similar class of car.
This is what you’ll use as a starting point for bidding on our rental car.
2. Bid for Your Rental Car
Now that we have a price range in mind we’re ready to start the bidding process for our car.
The real value that Priceline provides is the ability to name your own price and bid for your car rentals, using this will get you the best rates but it requires some work.
On the Priceline.com homepage select the cars tab. You’ll see the normal search area but what we want to use is the bidding feature which will allow us to get even better discounts on rental cars.
Very important on this step – we’ll want to enter a price that we know for sure won’t get accepted.
We’re doing this because we want to see what Priceline will suggest to us a a more reasonable bid, we’ll use this information to help guide our bidding process.
The next screen you’ll see is Priceline calling you crazy that $1/day isn’t going to be accepted.
Why not Princeline???
Anyways what they do give us is their “suggested” bid which is clearly too high. This is when we’ll use those prices we found during the Bidding for Travel forums. It looked like bids around $16/day based on the forums were being accepted so that’s what I’ll go with.
After you enter your bid the next screen will be your payment information – a few important notes before you move forward past this next step.
- If your bid is accepted by a company your card will be charged and you’ll be booked. There are not cancellations without a very hefty penalty. Don’t even try to beg Priceline they won’t hear it.
- Going into this you won’t know which company you’ll end up with but that’s ok – it’ll be one of the major rental companies at Orlando International.
- Since there are no cancellations and changes be sure that your dates are correct.
After you click submit you’ll see one of a few outcomes:
- Your bid was accepted – Congrats! You just locked in a great deal on a rental car.
- Your bid was not accepted because it was too low. More on what to do in a minute.
- You receive a counter bid. Generally you will not want to accept these counter bids because they’re not that great of a deal. If it is a good deal good ahead and accept it.
In most cases you’ll end up with outcome #2 which is fine – this is where the fun part comes in. The rules of Priceline are that you can only re-bid every 24 hours for the same exact bid.
3. Re-Bidding on Priceline
What that does mean is that we can simply switch the car type and continue to try bidding. For example if I’m bidding $15/day on a standard car I could try $13/day for a compact car or $16/day for a full size car.
Make note of your bids that you’re making for which car types. If our bids are not accepted we’ll wait the 24 hours and bid $1/day more for each car type in 24 hours.
You should try bidding on as many car types as you’re comfortable ending up with. You’ll be presented with a page below that will allow you to continue trying to bid on the different car types.
If you’re unsuccessful with this first round not to fret -we’ll just try again tomorrow when we’ll be allowed to bid again. I usually take my previous day’s bid and increase by $1/day for each car until a bid is accepted.
It may take a couple of days to finally get a bid accepted but it’ll be well worth the work, you’ll end up with a much cheaper than retail rental car!
While it takes a little bit of research, persistence and work to use Priceline rental car bidding to get a good deal on a rental car – it’ll be well worth it when you book that car at over a 50% discount (or more sometimes!). Remember that things can change from day to day – if you bid $15 on a car today and get rejected that same $15 bid tomorrow may be accepted. Continue to work on your bids and check back to get that great deal on your car.