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Rental Car Prices To The MOON in Denver Jan - Mar

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

Wow - I'm starting to plan a couple of trips to Colorado from Atlanta for the winter and the SUV rental prices are making it a no-go!  The cheapest rates I can find for an SUV is through Costco and it's in the MID-$800's for 5 days!  I have felt uncomfortable paying $300-$400 in the past couple of seasons but $800+ is just not possible.

 

Is something going on within the travel industry in Colorado / Denver?  Looking back through my receipts from previous trips it looks like we were paying $200 - $300 up until 2014 when they went in to the $300's.  Now in the $800's?  Even sedans are pretty expensive - all in the $200's.

post #2 of 28

I saw that too.  Hopefully, things will change as time goes on.  Otherwise, those airport-to-ski-area shuttles might start getting economical.  I looked at renting a car from a location other than the airport and price went down quite a bit.  Oh, just picked up on fact that you are focussing on SUVs.  I don't bother with those in CO because most places are so close to an interstate.  But I could see you needing one or a minivan if you have a larger group.

post #3 of 28
I booked an suv in Denver for a week Dec15th for $400 after taxes. Think it's with hertz.

Two years ago we rented a suburban for $1100 for the week of Dec 7th
post #4 of 28
It does appear rates have increased. I'm going Tuesday and having a hard time finding anything <$300/week. Just keep looking!

Those direct flights into Aspen are getting even more attractive.
post #5 of 28

Denver is always expensive in the winter for SUV rentals, so this sounds typical. But where are you finding prices? Have you tried the aggregator sites, like Kayak.com?

 

I took a quick look on there and on Expedia.com at 5 days, Wed. February 15th - Sunday February 19th. 

 

I'm seeing the "off-brands" (meaning a typically older car, and perhaps a longer shuttle ride from the airport), like Fox or E-Z, around $350. And some of the mainstream brands - Alamo, Dollar, Thrifty, Budget - in the $380-$400 range.

 

If you want Enterprise, Avis, Hertz, etc. I'm seeing more like $550.

 

But this seems very date dependent. A similar week in January looks to be a lot more expensive. The one time I rented from Denver for 5 days in early February, I was never able to get it below about $500 online; I did wind up getting a better deal through work, so that could be an option too if you have a travel service where you work.

post #6 of 28
Is it really necessary to rent an suv in the winter?
post #7 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitman View Post

Is it really necessary to rent an suv in the winter?

 

No... not necessary. But it depends on what the weather is like, how used to driving in snow you are, what kind of tires the car you're driving has, etc.

 

Given all the variables involved in a trip, I feel better getting an SUV (assuming it's AWD/4WD - mine always have been, but I've heard stories of folks getting them in 2WD). And I grew up in PA and have driven in snow quite a lot. For instance, here's what I ran into heading to Vail, even with weather reports a day or so earlier saying only a small chance of snow :

 

 

Could I have driven in that with good tires on a regular sedan? Sure. But we saw lots of folks struggling to get up the hill or getting stuck. I'm pretty risk averse when it comes to expensive vacations, so a 4WD SUV makes sense to me.

 

Now if the weather is really, truly fair and not going to snow, then a sedan would be just fine.

post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbostedo View Post
 

Denver is always expensive in the winter for SUV rentals, so this sounds typical. But where are you finding prices? Have you tried the aggregator sites, like Kayak.com?

 

I took a quick look on there and on Expedia.com at 5 days, Wed. February 15th - Sunday February 19th. 

 

I'm seeing the "off-brands" (meaning a typically older car, and perhaps a longer shuttle ride from the airport), like Fox or E-Z, around $350. And some of the mainstream brands - Alamo, Dollar, Thrifty, Budget - in the $380-$400 range.

 

If you want Enterprise, Avis, Hertz, etc. I'm seeing more like $550.

 

But this seems very date dependent. A similar week in January looks to be a lot more expensive. The one time I rented from Denver for 5 days in early February, I was never able to get it below about $500 online; I did wind up getting a better deal through work, so that could be an option too if you have a travel service where you work.

 

Do not rent from Fox their cars are unreliable at best. Just to give you an idea of the quality of their cars it's the only rental company that we have blanket approval to not rent from regardless of rates when on government travel.

 

If cars in Denver are that expensive might be worth looking into flying into Colorado Springs. If you go 24 to Colroado 9 it's only about 20-30 mins further for the I-70 resorts then flying into Denver. It's actually a few minutes shorter if your going to Breck.  

post #9 of 28

I'd also suggest checking out Turo, which is a peer-to-peer car rental platform -- kind of like Airbnb for cars. A bunch of local Denver folks list their SUVs and many will deliver their vehicles to DIA. Sometimes their rates are *much* less expensive than traditional car rental companies, and you get to know exactly the vehicle you'll get ahead of time so there is no surprise at the counter.

 

If you go through this referral link for your first Turo rental then you'll get a $25 discount (and I will too!): https://turo.com/referral?code=620443rVp7IH

post #10 of 28

I rented a small SUV for 10 days for $562 including all taxes and fees from Fox.  I always rent way in advance though as we have a timeshare and thus know the dates in the summer for the winter.

 

This is for the last week of February.  Have used Fox before and it was fine.

post #11 of 28

You are checking the prices for off airport rental.  With inconvenience of a bus or cab ride you can some

times save substantially by not renting at the airport as the taxes are much higher there

 

Thanks for the Turo information, I did not know about that.

post #12 of 28

I rent out of DIA every February.  It's rare to see the SUV rates come down much below $500/week in the winter.  The last 3 or 4 years I have been able to get a mid-size or larger car for under $100/week plus taxes and fees.  Note that out of DIA the airport fees are HUGE, and can increase the total cost by over 50%.  I typically rent for 3 weeks so a car comes in at about $500 for the 3 weeks and an SUV at over $2000.  I get a car and have not had any big problems.  That's in 30 weeks in the mountains over the last 10 years.  Would I prefer an AWD SUV? Absolutely!  But not for 3 to 5 times the price of a car.

 

Last year the prices were even higher if you looked in the fall for February.  I think it had to do with the WC races at Vail.  What I have learned to do is to book when you see an OK price.  Then check again every so often.  If you see a lower price, rebook.  It costs nothing.  One year I rebooked over 5 times.  DO NOT prepay as then you are locked in.  Prices last year sometimes varied over 100% within a week.  You just have to keep checking and grab the deal when it appears.

post #13 of 28

Sometimes  save more than $100 a week renting in Denver instead of DIA. The cheapest thing might be taking the new light rail to Denver.  The train might even be easier than a taxi if you are hauling ski stuff, but I haven't done that yet.  

 

FWIW driving to Colorado ski resorts is way easier than from my house in Saratoga to Vermont or the Catskills.   I usually rent the cheapest thing I can find when I'm on my own. 

BK

post #14 of 28

I find if it is close price wise a standard or mid-size car has increased safety features (probably becoming less so as cars improve) over  an economy rental.  Colorado does have mandatory chain control for some parts of th highway so be aware.  

post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maineac View Post

Colorado does have mandatory chain control for some parts of th highway so be aware.  
I think there is a lot of misinformation about chain laws. The co dot link is here for reference: https://www.codot.gov/travel/winter-driving/assets/FactSheetTractionandPassengerVehicleChainLaw.pdf

In general, roads to ski areas do go into code 15 durring big storms which means u need ms tires with 1/8 tread. All rental cars have ms tires. New tires have 11/32 of tread so the vast majority of tires are legal but u should check to be sure.

Code 16 almost never happens, they just close the road. If code 16 happens, even 4x4 vehicles must use chains.

All of that being said, if you don't have experience driving in snow, take a shuttle to the ski area. A 4x4 only helps a little and driver experience in snow in critical in storms.
post #16 of 28

And the 1st real snow of the season and the 1st real I70 closure.  And it's not like there are a bunch of tourists in rental cars right now.  Well maybe the leaf peepers.

post #17 of 28

If you rent a car in airport.... Yes that's the price.

Maybe try to set the rental location to Denver downtown of something like that. Should be much cheaper

post #18 of 28

past few years i was getting 7-800 a week quotes for an SUV at DEN. I booked a cheap car instead

and upon arrival they were very pushy to upgrade me to a small SUV at a very good price,($250+-)

Did that twice.  It snowed a lot and i was very glad to have 4WD at the passes. Yes the taxes are insane.

post #19 of 28

OK Bump 

 

Contemplating a trip [IF snow arrives]- looks like there is a yuuuuge bump in rates before Xmas which triggers from the day the rental commences.  Anyone knows what happens if you overbook a rental i.e. starting a day earlier and then don't show to collect for 24 hours.  Suspect they try to auto cancel but if you call and let them know you'll be a day later than booked and do things like pre-pay do you get any protection?  The bump is about +70% which over an extended stay adds up significantly.  


Edited by fatbob - 11/14/16 at 4:20am
post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatbob View Post
 

OK Bump 

 

Contemplating a trip - looks like there is a yuuuuge bump in rates before Xmas which triggers from the day the rental commences.  Anyone knows what happens if you overbook a rental i.e. starting a day earlier and then don't show to collect for 24 hours.  Suspect they try to auto cancel but if you call and let them know you'll be a day later than booked and do things like pre-pay do you get any protection?  The bump is about +70% which over an extended stay adds up significantly.  

Don't know the answer.  Best you try to contact a company representative and ask.  It would seem like pre-pay would save you the rate even though you'd report a day late.  Have you looked at pricing for off-airport car rental locations and at riding the commuter rail system from DIA to a city rail/transit station near off-airport car rental locations like the Central Park station?

post #21 of 28
The Alamo Rep told me they cancel no shows after 24 hours.
post #22 of 28
Another trap - as if there weren't enough already - is that you generally are not guaranteed to get AWD just because you reserve an SUV. Many come in 2WD editions and if that's what the rental place has or feels like giving you, you're stuck, unless you've had better luck than I have with getting blood from stones. It's a racket.
post #23 of 28

Just tried to book Alamo for Feb and got the message ' no cars available for those dates '.

 

WTF 

 

Is this normal. Booked up 3 months in advance?

post #24 of 28

I once arrived at the Dollar counter at DEN after midnight due to a delay in getting out of NY.  They couldn't find my reservation.  Seems the computer considered me a no-show because it was the next day!  Took a few minutes to figure out what was going on, and they got me on my way.  

post #25 of 28

I seem to remember there's a similar thread last fall also!

 

Maybe this year isn't any higher than last year. Just people eventually found deals and used that as reference for rack rate.

post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post
 

I seem to remember there's a similar thread last fall also!

 

Maybe this year isn't any higher than last year. Just people eventually found deals and used that as reference for rack rate.


Last year I paid $133 for a 6 day rental @DEN. Since I was traveling solo, I could take the cheapest, smallest car they gave me. Dollar tried hard to double the cost by upgrading me to SUV by showing me the traction device rules and telling me I was getting a Mustang when I think all they had were convertibles. Then they gave me a Chevy Spark that I found would not start after loading all my skis and bags into it. I ended up with a Toyota Yaris that got me over Loveland Pass and to A-Basin with new snow. The scariest part of the drive was crossing Denver and getting buried a couple of times by trucks throwing slush. The same rental this year is $200 now (and $800 for SUV), but I think it was similar a year ago and I re-booked a couple of times as prices fell.   

post #27 of 28

You absolutely should check prices every so often as prices go up and down, sometimes several times a day.  My tactic is to book when I see a decent price and then rebook when I see a better one as it costs nothing.  Don't prepay as that locks you in.  Two years ago I rebooked about 6 or 7 times.  Last year just once.  Currently have a :standard" car booked with Dollar for about $125/week plus taxes and fees out of DIA in February.  Haven't seen a better price yet so haven't rebooked at all.  


Edited by JimH - 11/15/16 at 5:43am
post #28 of 28
Nobody should think they need a car to ski CO. Try CME and public transit. If you are there to ski, you won't miss a car.

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