With a bit of luck and a few simple tactics, it's possible to score a car hire upgrade. Regardless of whether it's a long weekend away with mates or an extended road trip with the family, a coveted upgrade can make the journey all the more sweet. Increase your chances of securing a great vehicle with these handy Flight Centre tips, to ensure that prestige model doesn't remain an elusive dream.
Don't be afraid to negotiate
Sometimes all it takes is to smile while posing the question – "How much will it cost to upgrade to another vehicle?" After being quoted the price, don't be afraid to embark on some friendly negotiation – just be nice about it. It's remarkable how accommodating a car hire representative can be.
Engage in conversation
Make the representative feel valued and involve them in your plans. Tell them about your holiday and where you're heading with the car. Ask for their advice on great sights to see along the way. If you're travelling for a special reason, such as a birthday or anniversary, be sure to throw that in also. The Rep may go that extra mile to make your trip all the more special with an upgrade.
Timing is paramount
Hoping for a car hire upgrade on a Friday night at the beginning of a long weekend is probably not the best time to secure that luxury vehicle. However your chances increase at the end of a peak time when many cars are being returned to the lot and available to go out again. The flip side to this logic is that on busy days, the car category you reserved might not be available, so an instant upgrade could be on the cards.
Join the club
Joining the loyalty club of the car rental company demonstrates that you're genuinely interested in their brand, and adds extra leverage when wanting to secure that prime upgrade. Many car companies are also aligned to airline frequent flyer programs – so be sure to drop that pertinent fact into the conversation also.
Are you aiming for that full-size four wheel drive people mover? Then reserving the cheapest two-door on offer and demanding a top shelf upgrade may not achieve the desired result. Instead consider going for a mid-range car initially; at least then you'll be on track towards the upper end of the spectrum.
Rent from a non-airport location
While not strictly a tactic to secure an upgrade but definitely good advice for getting a great deal, on occasions, the cost of a rental car from a non-airport location can be less than hiring the same vehicle directly after your flight. This could give you the perfect excuse to explore the city that you fly into before jumping in the hire car from a central location and embarking on your road trip.
At the end of the day…
There's no precise scientific method for securing a car hire upgrade. But by relying on good timing, a pleasant demeanour and a willingness to ask can be all it takes to transform your compact two door into a prestige vehicle with all the trimmings.