Renting a car continues to be a pricey challenge

If you thought renting a car would get a little easier this summer, you may want to pack your patience as many experts don't foresee a short-term solution until at least next year.

When it comes to booking a car reservation, earlier is better, according to Nick Ewen, a senior editor at The Points Guy travel website

"This really started to come to a head in early 2021 as travel started to come back, especially domestically, the ongoing chip shortage meant rental car companies couldn't build their fleets back up," Ewen said. "You have to really plan ahead and be prepared to pay."

And once you lock it in, Ewen said tracking sites like AutoSlash are helpful when it comes to finding deals and notifying travelers if there's a price drop.

Airport rental locations including Florida, Hawaii, and South Carolina have consistently been sold out days in advance even on non-holiday weekends, according to AutoSlash founder and CEO Jonathan Weinberg.

"If you're able to plan ahead, that means two to six weeks ahead, you'll be in much better shape in terms of getting a better deal," Weinberg said. "There's a lack of rental cars available due to COVID-induced supply chain shortages and we're likely to see much, much higher rental rates this summer similar to what we saw last summer."

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Analysts say minivans and full-size SUVs are the most popular right now and you may not find affordable options or even availability if you wait too long.

Out-of-the-box suggestions include checking out car-sharing services or even renting a car from a car dealership.

"A lot of car dealerships will allow people to rent cars that are typically loaners so you may have better luck there," Ewen said.

Some other tips: check AAA and other travel credit cards that offer member discounts. If you have flexibility, off-airport sites may be less expensive as well as using the pay later option.

"You can reserve with just your name and email, you don't need to give a credit card in most cases," Weinberg said. "If a better deal comes along you can cancel and rebook."

And of course, safe travels once you hit the road.