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Costly car rentals hit travelers

Travelers say they might pay three times more
Posted at 7:34 PM, May 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 22:34:48-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — So many people are eager to travel again that this Memorial Day weekend could uncork an especially busy summer travel season but could still affect your travel---this time it's your travel budget.

With more people vaccinated people are more comfortable traveling again and that goes for air travel too. But the cost of a rental car could throw you off.

Airports are busy again. A lot of those travelers will be renting cars---and paying much more than they’re used to.

We did a spot check and found a three day rental can easily top three hundred dollars for even a modest car and you may not get some cars at any price.

Steven Kleinlein told us he really needs to go to Phoenix but flew through Tucson because of the rental car crunch.

“Because it's $300 cheaper here than renting it in Phoenix. So you end up paying more for the airfare to get to Tucson, but you save a little bit of money on the rental car, but rental car rates have at least doubled in the last four months.”

He says he’s paying a hundred a day for a mid-size car that he used to rent for thirty or forty a day.

When travel fell in the worst of the pandemic, rental car companies sold a lot of their cars to cut costs. Now that demand’s bouncing back, car makers can’t build replacement cars fast enough because there’s a computer chip shortage.

Some travelers told us they still found reasonable rentals. Some found discounts. Others found companies honored lower rates they booked many months ago.

And a lot of travelers are simply sticking to their own cars. Triple A expects 93% of Memorial Day trips to be road trips.

Aldo Vasquez of AAA-Arizona says, “I think it just comes down to what people are more comfortable doing, and right now I think people are just more likely to take a road trip, because they're, they have more control of their environment, they're cheaper to plan also, and you can change your itinerary at the last minute.”

And some travel experts say travelers are so interested in getting out of isolation that the usual slow summer for Tucson tourism may not be slow this year.