Cash back for Car Rentals and Online Travel Agents

Yesterday, I ran through how to earn cash back just for booking hotels and airfare.  Today, let’s finish the vacation and do car rentals and online travel agents.

In the comments yesterday, I was asked about the reliability of one of the shopping sites.  While I have no reason to believe that any of the ones that I listed are wholly unreliable, I’ve always had the best luck with Mr Rebates and Big Crumbs in terms of my credits posting quickly.  Big Crumbs has among the worst rebates in travel (although among the best in other categories), but Mr Rebates is extremely competitive.  If you find one site you don’t like, there’s an alternative.

You should never, ever rent a car without some sort of discount, even if it’s just a few bucks.  The coupons are simply too prevalent.  Like cash?  Good, that’s what I’ve got.  Here are your best options.  Just remember to clear your cookies before shopping to get your cash back.

About clearing cookies: Cookies are tracking devices that websites put on your computer to market to you.  They’re generally harmless, but they could cost you some cash.  Let’s say you go to Hertz to check out car rental prices.  Then, you log in to Mr Rebates and shop through Hertz’s link there to get your 3% rebate.  Guess what?  You may not get that rebate.  You see, the cookie tracked you to Hertz’s own site first and thus won’t recognize a referral from Mr Rebates.  By clearing your cookies, which takes only seconds, before going to Mr Rebates, you are guaranteeing yourself your rebate.

Befrugal and Mr Rebates pretty much own the category in terms of offering the best rebates for a rental car.  Mr Rebates’s site, however, is easier to navigate.  A few others are sprinkled around.

Link to Befrugal

Link to Mr Rebates


Car Rentals

Alamo: Befrugal and Mr Rebates are the best, at 4% and 3%, respectively

Avis: Befrugal, Mr Rebates and several others offer 3% back

Budget: Befrugal and Mr Rebates, 3.5% and 3%, respectively

Dollar/Thrifty: Mr Rebates, 5%, ebates 3.5%

Enterprise: Befrugal and Mr Rebates, 4% and 2%, respectively

Hertz: Befrugal and Mr Rebates, 5% and 3%, respectively

National: Befrugal 5%, ShopatHome 4%

Payless: Befrugal 5%, Coupon Cactus 3.5%


Online Travel Agents

The nice thing about online travel agents is that they allow you to quadruple dip on airfare and triple dip on hotels.  Car rentals are mixed.  More on that below.

Expedia: Shopathome is up to 7%  Big Crumbs is up to 6%, depending on the booking.  I don’t know SaH well, but BC is very reliable.

Orbitz: The Big Winner for consumers.  Up to 7.5% at Befrugal, up to 6.5% at ebates.  Also, be sure to check out this link, which discusses Orbitz’s own rewards program.  Definitely superior to Expedia.

Travelocity: Up to 6% at Befrugal, 4% at ebates.

Finally, a note about triple and quadruple dipping.  There’s no reason that you should only get one set of points.  By using a shopping site, you’ll get points from as many as four vendors:

Example: You buy a plane ticket on Orbitz through Mr Rebates.  You earn cash back from Mr Rebates (1), Orbitz bucks from Orbitz (2), points from whatever credit card you used to make the purchase (3) and miles on the airline (4).  That’s four bonuses for one purchase!

Hotels are a triple dip, because they often (although not always) will not give you points if you do not book on their website.

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