Demand for rental cars soars during uptick in spring break travel

With an uptick in travel during spring break time, there’s a significant demand for rental cars in other states but not enough inventory.

It’s driving up costs for those going on vacation.

"We’ve heard from travelers and readers from Minneapolis going to places in Florida, Phoenix, Denver, Hawaii, where car rentals rate are exorbitant: triple, quadruple, even more than what the normal rate is right now," said Kyle Potter, executive editor for Thrifty Traveler.

Rental cars in popular destinations, such as Florida and Phoenix, that once cost just $30-$50 a day are regularly going for $100 or $200 or more for a single day.

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"Rental companies are just not able to cope with demands. So in many cases, people are paying hundreds of dollars per day for cars. And in some cases, people aren’t even able to find a car to rent," Potter said.

The pandemic is partially to blame for causing this lack of inventory. When travel demand disappeared this time last year, many car rental companies began selling off parts of their fleet at huge discounts to make up for financial problems.

Many companies gave up almost one-third of their inventory, and now that demand is back, they don’t have enough cars to keep up.

"People are kind of panicking because either they can’t find a vehicle that fits their needs or the price is more than what they spend on airfare to begin with," said Chey Eisenman, owner of Chey Car. "And even just simple things, like going to the airport and leaving the airport, taxis and Ubers aren’t readily available like they once were because many stopped driving during the pandemic or didn’t survive the pandemic altogether."