1. Skip the airport
Sure, renting at the airport is convenient when you’re flying into a new city. But that convenience can come at a premium, thanks to airport surcharges.
We checked rates in March for a Memorial Day visit to Portland, Oregon. An economy rental from Enterprise is $15 per day if you pick it up downtown. The same car is more than $38 per day if you pick it up at the airport. Plus you'll pay a $6 per day "Customer Facility Charge" and 10% "Concession Recovery Fee" for renting at the airport.
All told, you'd save roughly $110 over your three-day weekend in Portland just by renting from somewhere other than the airport. This isn't the case in every city, though. You'll pay nearly the same price renting at Chicago O'Hare International Airport as you would at an off-airport location.
Price out rental locations in the city and compare to what you can get at the airport. Make sure you factor in the cost of a taxi or Lyft to and from your rental location if you rent at a location away from the airport. And take into account time lost to traffic in a city like Chicago.