If you have ever rented a car, its quite likely you have experienced “car rental apoplexy”. ... the anger that rages when the agent tells you the cheapest compact costs $67 per day, or when somehow they don't have any cars available upon your arrival (but I made a reservation?!?!), or when a weekly rental still tops $400 because of taxes and fees, even though the daily rate is, like, $12. And seriously, don't even get started on the insurance. However, there are some ways you can turn the scales in your favor when renting a car. Here is some of what the rental companies have shared.

1. Free member programs have a ton of perks, so join already if you travel frequently and need to rent a car. They are beneficial no matter which companies you join, unlike having to accrue rewards with one airline. In addition to free upgrades/rentals, all member programs allow you to bypass the counter entirely, regardless of how many people are in line or how infrequently you actually rent. In fact, the goal of most rental companies is to get members out of the building (if they have to enter at all) in under a minute. A minute! Plus, members typically score pre-assigned newer, nicer vehicles.

2. There is no such thing as a ‘free’ upgrade outside of a member program. Unless the location is temporarily out of the car class you reserved, or you're picking up on a slow weekend and are super friendly to the agent and ask nicely, you're not getting any kind of free upgrade, much less to a luxury vehicle. Even if free upgrades did exist -- AND THEY REALLY DON'T -- you might get bumped from an economy to a compact, at most.

3. You can, however, “buy” upgrades. First, don't roll in and demand, "I want an upgrade!" -- it's off-putting and ineffective and will likely result in the agent doing little to go out of his or her way to help you. But if you come in brandishing your AAA, Sam's Club, or Costco memberships, you are identifying yourself as a savvy bargain hunter and will likely be rewarded with a discount equivalent to what you would have paid for an upgrade. Also, if you plan to purchase the added insurance or prepaid fuel, lead off the conversation with that; if the agents know you're doing them a favor (by spending more money, for which they are incentivized), they're more likely to give you a break on your upgrade charge.

4. Members still benefit the most when it comes to upgrades. Some companies have a row of cars that are free for any of their members to drive so long as they booked a mid-size or better. The companies use this system to unload cars that aren't rented often or that they might be heavy on. "You'll probably never get a Cadillac when you've booked a Ford Focus," one agent says, "but you might move from that bland Toyota Camry to a Chevy Impala or a small SUV." On top of that, agencies typically have another dedicated "hot row" for members only, and it's staffed by a personal attendant who can offer a better upgrade than the agent at the counter.

5. Book early and then check rates regularly to see if the have fallen. The best time to book is as soon as possible. Each company has software that links to the online travel sites and adjusts prices according to both other listed prices and the company's available inventory. If it's a holiday weekend or peak travel time, inventory gets booked sooner and rates go up. If you see a great deal several months out, book it, then check every few weeks to see if it has changed and request your price adjustment.

6. Booking directly through the agency’s website won’t save you that much money. If you don't care about which company you rent from and just want the best deal, third-party sites like Kayak, Priceline, Travelocity, and Expedia are your best bets for deals.

Thank you for visiting our blog and reading our latest tips on being a better Roseville Home Insurance or Rocklin Home Insurance consumer!