The Cost Of Renting A Car Has Nearly Doubled Since 2019

A $35 increase may not sound like a lot, but looking at numbers from two years ago creates a bleak perspective

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We may sound like a broken record, but something else just hit a record high price – rental cars. And as with everything as of late, it isn’t getting better anytime soon.

The price of a daily rental has nearly doubled since December 2019. Back then, it was an average of $46. A small number compared to December 2021 – $81 per day for a rental car. That number went above $100 per day with many popular winter holiday locations.


This is happening for one good reason, and it isn’t because more people are traveling. There just aren’t enough available rental cars these days. That’s due partially to sell-offs of rental fleets at the beginning of the pandemic, and rental companies having had their hand forced in slowly buying back new inventory.

According to Auto Rental News – a site that tracks the rental car industry – U.S. companies added just over 725,000 new vehicles to their fleets in 2021. That’s a nine percent drop compared to 2020. That may not sound like too much, but when you compare it to before the pandemic, it’s about a 58 percent drop.


The industry added over 1.7 million vehicles in 2019. The semiconductor shortage is only making matters worse, as well. According to ARN, in a normal year, rental companies would buy around 800,000 cars in the fourth quarter. But, in 2021 they added just 94,000 vehicles, and don’t expect these numbers to change much this year.

“Car rental rates closed at record levels at the end of 2021, and I would expect more of the same for 2022,” Chris Brown, ARN’s executive editor, told WPXI News Pittsburg. “The automakers are frankly favoring retail sales over rental fleet sales at this time, so car rental companies are hunting for deals just like consumers are, and they’re paying closer to what consumers pay.”


So, what are you supposed to do if you need to rent a car but don’t want to pony up all that money? Book as early as possible, and continue to check for more deals potentially popping up. You can also make multiple reservations with different companies – as long as they don’t have a cancellation fee. Finally, skip the national chains and see what sort of local agencies your destination has.

So, good luck out there, rental car driver, because things aren’t going to get easier anytime soon.