Car Rental Prices Up Nearly 50 Percent Since Start of Pandemic

Car Rental Prices Up Nearly 50 Percent Since Start of Pandemic

Man picking up his rental car. (photo via Drazen Zigic/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

New data suggests car rental prices have climbed nearly 50 percent since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index, car rental prices jumped 48 percent from July 2019 to July 2022, which is much higher than the seven-percent hotel price increase over the same period and the 16-percent airfare cost increase.

The study found that prices dropped drastically at the onset of the pandemic, but bounced back in 2021, culminating in record prices in July 2021. While prices have dropped from last year, they are still far more than pre-pandemic costs.

Data from a recent NerdWallet study of 360 rental car reservations found that Enterprise is typically the cheapest of the car rental brands, while National is the most expensive. The analysis also showed that last-minute rentals are usually more affordable than those booked months in advance.

If travelers were looking for relief moving forward, the 2023 Global Business Travel Forecast found that worldwide car rental prices are expected to climb 7.3 percent in 2022 and another 6.8 percent in 2023.

The industry remains capacity constrained and companies that reduced fleet sizes in the wake of the pandemic have not yet fully recovered, due in part to component shortages and supply chain disruptions that have reduced global auto production.

To attract more business, car rental giant Hertz revealed earlier this year that college graduates under 25 years old who become a Hertz Gold Plus Rewards member would get the Young Renter Fee waived when they rent by signing up through the company’s official website.

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