That's a sweet deal, and I took advantage of it every weekend for about 30 weeks, beginning last October. It was fun. I had a different new car every weekend. And I built-up points that set me up for free rentals and free upgrades.
That low rate went away just before Memorial day weekend. They told me that heightened summer demand for rental cars causes the pricing to go up.
I just got an email though that told me the $9.99 per day weekend special is returning on August 19th.
If that's something you're interested in, here's what you do:
- First, make sure your auto insurance is going to cover you in case you somehow wreck a rental car. Contact your insurance agent. Make sure you're covered adequately.
(My old car, that needed big repairs to pass inspection, had full coverage on it. I just kept that insurance going and saved a ton compared to the insurance products Enterprise sold.)
- Sign-up for an "Enterprise Plus" account at their website. This will get the points flowing as you rent their cars.
- You'll need a credit card (and your driver's license) when you pick-up the car. They will put a $400 hold on your card. Make sure you've got enough on the card for that.
- You get 100 miles per day with this deal. That's 300 miles for the weekend. If you go over that amount, they hit you with a per mile charge. (For me it was 20 cents per mile.)
- You pick-up the car Friday. Make sure they get it back by Monday morning, before your Friday pick-up time. Example: If you picked the rental car up at 8:00 am on Friday, make sure Enterprise gets the car back BEFORE 8:00 am on Monday to avoid an additional charge.
- The Enterprise agent will probably try to scare you into buying their insurance. This is why it's important to have a very clear conversation with your auto insurance agent to know exactly what your coverage is. Once you have that knowledge, if you know you're well protected, you can confidently block the Enterprise agent's attempt at scoring an insurance sale.
- Another thing to be prepared for is whether or not you want to pay Enterprise for the convenience of dropping your car off without topping-off the fuel tank. They will try to sell you that option too.
- Note: The $9.99 per day special isn't really $9.99 per day. A 3 day weekend rental cost me $38.37 with all the taxes included. Still a bargain though.
- I always opted for the cheapest rental, but often they gave me fancier cars because they ran out of the budget cars. That was nice, but I actually preferred the economy cars for the better gas mileage.
The econo cars are fine. I found that they all had excellent acceleration. All were comfortable... except the Ford Fiesta. I just didn't like how the console on that car pressed against my right leg. (Not a tall man's car.)
- When you are about to be handed the keys to one of their cars, do a complete damage assessment before taking possession of it, while in the presence of the rental car associate.
The scratches under the air-dam they didn't care about. Nor did they care about scratches and scuffs on the rims and hubcaps. Or small dings. But you should point all damage out anyway.
Look at the windshield. You are looking for cracks and impact marks. Study it.
Look at the roof. Are there dents on the roof?
Every scratch should be pointed out. Scratches are especially common just outside of the trunk, where people are prone to dragging their luggage across the surface of the rear bumper area of the car, scratching it.
Look at all four corners of the car. Point out all damage.
Check the body for large dings.
Look at the driver's door handle. That is another common place for scratches.
And check to see if you have a gas cap. In fact, while you are at it, be sure you know how to open the gas cap lid. (Important to know.) Ask the rental car agent for help if you can't figure that out.
Another important step: make sure the damage you found is noted on your rental agreement. Don't initial that area of their form if this information is missing.
And like with valet parking, you can use your smartphone's video capabilities to document your rental car's condition while the agent is there.
- TIP: Don't smoke in the rental car. They will penalize you for that with a hefty fee.
- When it comes to dropping the car off, it is to your best advantage to drop it off while they are open. If you drop the car off the night before, after hours, it won't get checked in until they open in the morning. So if somebody backs into your car during the night, or if it gets vandalized or set on fire or stolen, it's your problem, not their's, because it wasn't checked in.
That is a can of worms.
You will be paying them not just for the damage to the car, but also an administrative fee, plus a "loss of use" fee.
It is simply less risky to return the car while they are open.
I did around 30 Enterprise rentals. No problems. And I reached "platinum status" with them, which means I accumulated points faster, which gave me free rental days and free upgrades.
Why did I rent? I just figured it was the cheaper way to go instead of pouring money into my expensive car repair. And I only really needed a car on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, which worked perfectly with Enterprise. The few times I needed a car on other days, I just paid a little more.
The funny thing was... the guys at work were astounded with the variety of cars I drove. They thought I must have had money! I got a kick out of it. And having a different new car every weekend was fun for me.
Anyway, I recommend the Enterprise weekend car rental special. (It might not be available at airport locations.)
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If you have a nice car, a manual transmission car, an unusual car, or a large SUV, van or pick-up, I highly recommend just getting a rental and leaving your baby safely at home in the garage. Get a cheap Enterprise weekend rental. You'll be able to relax more and not worry so much about what the valets might be doing to your vehicle.
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One thing to keep in mind though is... if you are valet parking a rental car, the valet is more likely to give it to the wrong person. Because other people who valet parked their rentals can get confused about which rental car is actually their's. (Sometimes they act like a certain car is their's and unknowingly drive away in somebody else's rental.)