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Car rental rates change daily so checking prices frequently can score exceptional deals. If possible, I recommend making your reservation at a car rental agency near a major airport, since they usually have a larger selection of cars, longer hours and more staff to assist you.

In addition, larger cars may only cost slightly more than smaller models, so for only a couple more dollars you can attain a convertible or luxury model. However, remember to factor in the extra fuel costs that a larger vehicle may incur.

One technique that I have used is to reserve a car several classes below what I need, and then ask for a free upgrade at the desk when I pick it up. Most of the time they'll bump me up or for free...or a small fee. If I'm not upgraded, then I just settle for the gas savings that the smaller model provides.

Keep an eye out for deals on weekly rates. Rental agencies incur so much overheard expense during the actual rental pick-up and drop-off that the longer you keep it, the better off their bottom line is. Weekly rental deals below $200 are commonplace.

Weekend rates tend to be cheaper, since weekday inventory tends to be snatched up by business travelers.

Lastly, avoid paying for redundant car insurance. If your current auto insurance policy covers portions, or all, of rental cars, know that beforehand. Check with your insurance company before you walk onto the rental lot.

Good luck!