MoneyDon't Waste Your Money


DWYM: Beware rental car shortages during busy summer season

DWYM: Beware rental car shortages during busy vacation season
Posted at 12:51 PM, Jun 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-28 14:26:45-04

You may have heard about the lumber shortage, the new car shortage and a bunch of other shortages this year.

The latest is a nationwide car shortage that is ruining some trips.

Consumer reporter John Matarese has a warning, so you don’t waste your money.

If you are traveling this summer and it involves a rental car, triple-check that rental because there is a serious rental car shortage that nearly canceled one family's trip.

Now, Angie McIntosh and her family have arrived safely at their vacation condo on Florida's panhandle.

"We are on a cart drive halfway to the beach," she said.

But they almost didn't get here.

"I got a call from them to tell me sorry, we won't have your van," McIntosh said.

They had booked a 12-passenger Ford transit van to transport their extended family to Destin, Fla.

But while packing, an agent from Budget Rent A Car called to say there were no vans left.

"And this was less than 24 hours before we were supposed to leave," she said.

Nor could they get a minivan.

"They didn't have any minivans or transit vans due to that chip shortage," McIntosh said.

The only option: pay almost triple for two SUV's.

"He said, of course, we can get you 2 SUV's, but it will be $2,000."

Rental car agencies nationwide are running out of cars, or doubling prices for the few they have left.

Many sold off their fleets to survive last year, and the chip shortage means they can't get new ones.

Consumer Reports advises consumers to protect themselves with these tips:

  • Book a rental vehicle well in advance.
  • Consider Uber if you don't plan much driving.
  • And be very careful in places like Hawaii, Orlando, and Las Vegas where rentals may be sold out for weeks.

Budget finally gave the McIntosh's these two SUV's for the same price, but it was still costly.

"We have two vehicles to fill up," she said. "And you know gas prices are $3 right now."

A Budget rep apologized for the McIntosh's problems and told us they will investigate why the van they booked weeks in advance vanished on the eve of their trip.

Some people are now making two rental reservations to cover themselves, but be careful doing that.

You run the risk of being charged if you don’t show up for the backup rental.

As always, be careful and don't waste your money.