Over the President’s Day long weekend (and a week school break in some major US cities), I noticed a major spike in rental car prices. Cars are going for $125 to $150 per day in the Great LA area for National Car Rental vs. $55 per day for Emerald Club Members and Corporate rates. I called National and asked why the price was so high and the representative didn’t have an answer.
At the same time, I tried to get a car on Hertz and Budget and noticed they were just completely sold out. Hertz and Budget did not apply any price gauging tactics like National. The bigger question here is: Are car rental companies implementing yield management models like airlines? If so, this will have an impact on the industry. National is probably ahead of its time on this one strategy.
In summary: Just book your cars in advance as 99% of the car rental companies do not charge you for a no show.