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Take KARE of your Money: Planning around the rental car shortage

Hoping to rent a car for your summer vacation? You could run into supply issues, so make sure to book ahead.

We've heard about a lot of shortages caused by the pandemic, and now we can add vehicles to the list.

If you're in the market to buy a new one, it's going to cost you more. Dealerships across the country have limited inventories of both new and used cars. According to J.D. Power, that's sending prices up 8.4% higher than at this same time a year ago.

Partially to blame is a computer chip shortage, shutting down production at auto plants worldwide.

Meanwhile while supply is down, demand is up, with sales rates the highest since 2017.

There is also a shortage of rental cars nationwide, as many people are gearing up for summer travel. That shortage is fueled in part by decisions made last year when businesses plummeted due to the pandemic. Many rental car companies sold off much of their inventories, and paused new purchases.

The larger challenges facing the automotive industry are slowing down the race to build back up rental car supplies.

The most expensive rental car cities in the country right now are:

  • Bozeman, Montana
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Kahului, Hawaii

Some tourists in Hawaii have even turned to renting U-Hauls, according to NBC News.

The Points Guy, Brian Kelly, tells consumers to plan around the availability of a rental car - and the cost - when thinking about your trip. He also suggests:

  • Joining the rental car's loyalty program
  • Checking off-airport facilities
  • Booking directly through the rental car company instead of an online travel agency

"The car rental apocalypse, as we're calling it, shows no signs of abating, especially as we get into summer travel," Kelly said. "Book in advance and be as savvy as possible."

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