Your travel plans take you far away from home and begin with an airline trip and a return home 10 days later. While you are at your destination you will need a way to get around, something you plan to accomplish with a car rental.

Renting a car is a sensible way to see the sites, but the cost of that rental can shock you if you don’t do some research first. You can save upwards of 50 percent, even more, by considering the following points when renting your next car.

1. Compare prices with care.

There are a number of places to look for car rental deals beginning with the renting companies themselves. Head to the websites for Enterprise, Hertz, Alamo, Avis, National and the others to find published deals. You should also explore travel sites such as this one and Travelocity, Kayak, Orbitz, and Expedia to compare rates too. That simple effort can help you shave the biggest chunk of cost off of your next car rental deal.

2. Claim your discounts.

You may already have a discount available if you belong to AARP or AAA, or if you are with any organization that has a preferential arrangement with a particular car rental company. Even if you do not belong to such an organization, your credit card or frequent flier status may shave 10 to 15 percent off a quote rate. In some cases you may need to use points to obtain a deeper discount — determine whether the point taking is worth it now or would be better served if redeemed elsewhere.

3. Rent away from the airport.

Landing at your airport you find the rental car counter nearby. So very convenient! It can also be so very expensive. Instead of renting at the airport, opt for shuttle service to a location off the airport. Airport locations charge a big mark up, ranging from 20 to 50 percent to cover prime location expenses.

4. Consider local and regional car rental companies.

Household names such as Hertz, Enterprise, and Avis are where most consumers turn to when shopping for a car rental. You should know that Enteprise also owns Alamo and National, Hertz owns Advantage, Avis owns Budget, and Dollar and Thrifty are joined at the hip. Consider other car rental companies not mentioned here plus local, regional and independent companies. With the independents you can typically enjoy flexible rates, a better selection of vehicles, less restrictive regulations, and in some cases they will take cash deposits.

5. Longer is better.

Your 10-day trip may be a costly one, but you should be able to enjoy big savings with your car rental especially if you keep the car for more than a few days. Rent a vehicle for two or three days and your daily rate will come in much higher than a weekly rental. Some consumers that have a short trip pay for the longer rental, but return the car sooner. Run the numbers to compare the price for a 4- to 5-day rental with a weekly rental.

Vacation Considerations

You can save money on your vacation car rental by booking well in advance. That way, you will lock in a competitive rate and ensure that the vehicle you want is available. Wait too late and you’ll be hit with higher fees and you may find yourself getting a large sedan instead of that crossover you prefer.

Lastly, if your credit card company provides insurance protection, then take advantage of it. Your own insurer may also offer protection, but if you file a claim your rates will most likely increase.

See AlsoSave Money on Your Next Vacation by Checking Out Our Travel Guides