Tuesday 21 June 2011

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Car Rental Codes

I have too many kids.  I know this could come from any number of experiences and interactions that I have with them on any given day, but it becomes most apparent to me whenever I have to rent a car on a trip.  Minivan seems to be the minimum requirement, and those things aren't cheap.  I could make my kids sit three across in the back seat of a car or small SUV, but the last time I tried that, the complaining and fighting from the back seat convinced me that human interaction is a skill that develops later in life.

So I search for discounts, but discounts for cars don't work the same way as discounts for flights.  Flights are easier, as all you have to do is keep checking to see if the price has come down, and there are plenty of websites that will do that for you.  Car rentals are all about the codes and coupons, and everybody seems to have a slightly different one.  So I sort through all the coupon codes I can find, and try them all one by one.  If I'm lucky, then I can get a price that I'm looking for.  If I can't, then it's time to turn to corporate codes.

 Corporate codes are wonderful, but the trick to them is figuring out which ones you can qualify for.  Some of them are very easy.  Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, and Costco all have rates that pretty much anybody can use.  After that it becomes a little more of a grey area though.  Can I use the Microsoft corporate code?  Technically I'm not an employee, but I've tried out a beta version of one of their programs once, and I think I "like" them on Facebook (plus I have no idea what I've committed to by clicking on their "Accept Terms of Service" button.)  I once used a code for an Adult movie company while I happened to be in Vegas during the AVN convention (It worked fine and saved me almost $50, but I've always wondered what it would have entailed had they asked me to prove my qualifications for the rate.)

Sometimes I can find a great rate, but I have no idea what it's for.  Here you have to decide for yourself what you can get away with.  Currently I have a code that will chop almost $100 off my Orlando car rental next month, but I'm probably not going to use it.  While most corporate codes are seven or eight digits long with a random mix of numbers and letters, this corporate code is simply "1".  I have no idea what company is important enough to have a corporate code of "1", but I feel pretty sure that I don't give out that kind of "Above All Others" vibe when I walk up to the counter in my cargo shorts and t-shirt.

So for now I hold my reservation using an NCAA fan rate with a coupon code from a Disney site.  I'll check every day, and it will probably drop a little, but if not I may just have to bust out my suit and tie to look the part of a "Corporate Code 1" employee.