Rental car prices will remain high for 2022 vacations, experts predict

PITTSBURGH — Rental car rates are likely to remain high as we enter 2022, and travelers should plan accordingly.

“Car rental rates closed at record levels at the end of 2021, and I would expect more of the same for 2022,” said Chris Brown, executive editor at “Auto Rental News,” a trade publication.

According to Brown, the rates are being driven by supply chain issues. Demand continues to outpace supply, as automakers continue to face microchip shortages and other hurdles.

“The automakers are frankly favoring retail sales over rental fleet sales at this time,” Brown said. “So car rental companies are hunting for deals just like consumers are, and they’re paying closer to what consumers pay.”

Depending on when and where you’re traveling, you may not even be able to find a rental car.

Philip Podesta, owner of Limousines By A Touch Of Class, out of West Virginia, told Channel 11 he receives calls to the airport from folks who intended to get a rental car, but couldn’t find one.

“I’m getting a lot of phone calls for taxi-like service and I’m not a taxi,” he said. “These calls are last minute, they’re emergencies, they’re stuck at the airport.”

Certainly, no traveler wants to be stranded while planning trips and vacations for the upcoming year.

Tom Diecks, owner and founder of Greater Pittsburgh Travel, urges travelers to book their rentals as soon as possible. Often, you don’t need to pay for a rental at booking.

“During peak times, during summer vacation travel, the vacation destinations such as Florida, California, Hawaii — Hawaii has been really difficult during the pandemic to try to get car rentals — so, those, you want to do as early as you can, knowing that you can cancel or alter it,” Diecks said. “At least you know what your rate is now, and it won’t go higher than that.”

Brown also urges customers to book early.

“Book with multiple companies because oftentimes, the reservations aren’t guaranteed,” Brown said. He also said you could check on local car rental companies, which don’t always appear on popular travel search engines and can sometimes offer better rates.

Diecks recommends that customers check to see what discounts they may have available via their insurance or memberships like AAA or AARP.

“You’d be surprised sometimes what association discount you may have that you don’t even know about.”