by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | March 01, 2004

When it comes to renting a car, a little strategy and comparison shopping can reap big savings, say the experts. Following are some points to remember; for more advice and tips, visit

Go for small. Book the smallest car the rental company offers, then upon pickup, ask if a free upgrade is available. Most companies offer this service, especially during slow periods.

Book early. Rental companies raise rates as reservation volume increases and fleets book up. Also, smaller cars tend to sell out first, leaving only the larger, more expensive vehicles for rent.

Call around. When calling a company’s national reservation center, always ask for the best available rate. Then, call the local office where the car is being rented, and ask if they can better it.

Extra charges. Ask about taxes, fees and whether mileage is included in the rate.

Other discounts. Find out if the rental company honors discounts offered by your hotel, airline frequent-flyer awards program, AAA or other club memberships.