VroomVroomVroom VroomVroomVroom
Couple booking a hire car in an airport lounge

When should you book your hire car?

Hire car rates change frequently, and when you book can play an important role in determining what you pay. Read on to find out how.

Like many services, car rental rates can change at any time due to a number of factors. Supply and demand play a major part in determining how car hire rates are set at different times of the year, and booking well in advance is a great way to secure a more competitive rate — afterall you can always modify or cancel your booking later. Leave booking your hire car till the last minute — or over peak season — and you may find the rental rates to be far higher than expected.

With the above in mind, please find below our advice on when the best time is to book a hire car in Australia, along with some pointers on what happens if you need to modify or cancel your booking.

How are rental car rates set in Australia?

In all cases, hire car rental rates are set by the rental provider—the company that owns the vehicle. Here at VroomVroomVroom, we compare the prices offered by a number of different providers, but we do not set the rate itself. Our purpose is simply to show you what rates are available, helping you to find a vehicle within your budget that suits your needs. Keep in mind, the rates we compare are subject to change, including where a booking is modified.

The primary cause of changes in rental car prices in Australia is seasonal demand. In high and peak travel periods, more people want to rent a car and so prices increase and availability falls. This is especially the case over both long weekends and holiday breaks. Even a weekend hire might be more expensive than a mid-week hire. What this means is if you have some flexibility in your plans, shifting your dates around a bit can result in some savings.

Why you should book early

Booking early lets you take advantage of rental prices before they increase closer to your planned rental dates. You can often modify your booking later on if your plans change. If you’re booking a hire car for a holiday break — Christmas for example — the best thing to do is to give yourself a wider selection of cars and prices to choose from by booking well in advance. As soon as you know what dates you’ll be travelling on get that rental car booked! That way, you’ll be securing the rates you book even if they go up later, and you also won’t have to worry about missing out or having a limited range of hire cars to choose from.

Booking a hire car in peak season

Car rental rates tend to be more expensive over holiday periods, and Christmas is an excellent example of this. The main reason that rental car rates go up over Christmas and other holiday periods is because of high demand. Cars get booked up quickly for these times of year, resulting in fewer options at higher prices for anyone booking closer to Christmas, especially in locations with limited supply.

What about last-minute bookings?

It’s the night before your trip. Everything is set, except for a car rental. Don’t worry, there are a couple of options for last minute bookings, but you may need to pay a premium for them.

Overall, airport and CBD depots tend to have the biggest rental car fleet sizes due to their higher volume of customers. This means they may still have hire cars available when everyone else is booked solid. Note, you don’t have to be arriving by plane to collect a rental car at an airport. For CBD locations, a great thing about VroomVroomVroom is that you can use our search box to search multiple depots at the same time, and this will save you the time of having to search or contact each depot individually.

What happens if you need to change your car hire dates?

You’re not locked into your rental agreement until you arrive to collect the rental car and sign the paperwork, so if you book now and your plans change later, you can modify your booking at any time. Changing a booking can affect your rates—often increasing them—as your booking will need to be reset at whatever rates are available at the time you modify your booking, and this is why if you need to make adjustments to your booking, we suggest doing so well before you travel in order to avoid dramatically higher rates.

If you need to change your dates or book a different vehicle, please keep in mind that the rates will change based on the following:

  • Your new travel dates

  • The selected vehicle type

  • The selected rental provider

What happens if you need to cancel your booking?

If you paid a deposit at the time of booking, you’ll need to give at least 48 hours notice of your cancellation to receive a refund.