Exploiting Unlimited Mileage on a Car Rental

A few months back I wrote an article about getting the best deal booking travel online. Whether you need a hotel room, airfare, rental car, or a complete vacation package, following my techniques outlined in that post will ensure that you get  a fair price.

Earlier this month I had an opportunity to put my travel booking tactics to good use. My wife and I decided to rent a minivan to drive our family from Maine to Florida for a little fun in the sun!


I know, I know, driving 1500 miles one way isn’t what most people have in mind for a vacation, but after the last two winters we’ve had in Maine we would’ve walked there if we had the time!

Anyway, the interesting part about this story is that we rented the minivan with “unlimited” miles through one of the major car rental companies. The poor little Kia Sedona we borrowed had less than 1000 miles on it when we picked it up from the Portland International Jetport.

By the time we dropped it off 8 days later, it had almost 4500 miles on it. 3500 miles in one week! The more and more I thought about it, the more guilt I felt. Did I take advantage of the company? It would be easy to argue that I did!

Having spent only $450 for the use of the vehicle for the week (excluding taxes and fees), I guarantee the rental company was not banking on us driving so far. The depreciation of the vehicle alone was more than $450 not to mention the “wear and tear”.

I’m sure we are not the first family to pull off a stunt like this, and who knows…maybe it is a viable tactic for families planning future frugal trips. In any case, I just wanted to share my story and hear what others had to say about the subject!

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