Capital One No Hassle Rewards’ car rental booking engine, as seen in part 1, has some impressive values for paid reservations, beating Travelocity, which powers the engine, by multiples in some cases.
How does it stack up against Costco Travel, Hotwire and AutoSlash?
Both Costco Travel and AutoSlash reservations can be cancelled with no penalty, while Capital One are prepaid and can only be changed once, and Hotwire is prepaid and locked in.
There is no feasible way on this blog to systematically test myriad rentals so as a limited proxy, two actual rentals for The Rapid Traveler’s upcoming trips are tested.
Trip 1: Ft Lauderdale, FL (FLL) 11 pm May 18 – 7 pm May 20, cheapest economy car:
- AutoSlash – Payless, $43.51 (only priced Payless, Sixt and E-Z, no major US rental agencies)
- Capital One – Budget, $43.51
- Costco Travel – Alamo, $46.44
- Hotwire – hidden agency, $53.70
Trip 2: Orlando, FL (MCO) 10 pm June 7 – 6 pm June 10:
- AutoSlash – Payless, $45.07 (only priced Payless, Sixt and E-Z, no major US rental agencies)
- Capital One – Budget, $63.39
- Costco – Alamo $72.41 full-size (full-size and up are cheaper than the smaller models, perhaps a pricing error on the smaller models, this sometimes happens for Alamo, less so for Enterprise and rare for other agencies )
- Hotwire – $107.62
For both trips, AutoSlash was cheapest but did not price any major rental agencies, which the others do not bother to price. Perhaps it is unfair bias without evidence, but The Rapid Traveler sticks with the major agencies. AutoSlash’s model is to work further on the rates post-booking, but it is hardly promising that none of the big guys are in the initial results.
Capital One bests Costco Travel in both searches, the tradeoff is fully flexible Costco bookings versus prepaid, one change only (refunds in equivalent miles, not cash) Capital One bookings.
Hotwire is higher than all, which is typical. In nearly two years of weekly rentals, The Rapid Traveler rarely found Hotwire to compete with Costco rates. Priceline Name Your Own Price rentals beat Costco about 50% of the time with daily perseverance starting 2-3 weeks out. Last minute deals on Priceline were rare for those rentals.
Capital One is indeed a great option to find low car rental prices. The rates are prepaid but can be changed/refunded once, though there is more room for problems than the non-prepaid Costco rentals. AutoSlash may turn out well in the end, but it takes a leap of faith to book and hope they find something better than Payless. Their goal is admirable but it is difficult to embrace something with low upfront transparency.
Readers, what have been your experiences?