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How can I rent a car in Seattle or Vancouver when I only know the date of arrival? I want to be flexible on the return date (+/- 1 week or so).

If this is possible, what are the options to make it cheaper?

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You can always (or almost always) extend a car rental. Generally this is done by just calling the rental agency 24 hours before the scheduled drop-off time to request additional time.

Naturally, it happens automatically, as well, if you don't return the vehicle as scheduled, although it would very possibly incur penalties to do so. And if you wait too long (and don't return phone calls), it would likely incur an arrest warrant as well. :)

Your best bet would simply be to talk to the rental agencies you are considering, and find out what their policy is on extending a rental. Many will have this information on their web site in the fine print as well, but a phone call is likely easier than reading through all of that fine print.

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  • What if all the cars are reserved from a time shortly after the end of the rental period?
    – gerrit
    Aug 12, 2014 at 16:54
  • @gerrit: That would be the only situation in which it would be a problem, but I expect any large/national rental agency to be prepared for this, by moving inventory from another location if necessary, etc. But this is why it's still best to call the agency and find out their policies.
    – Flimzy
    Aug 12, 2014 at 17:01
  • What about shortening a contract, is this also possible? Aug 12, 2014 at 17:06
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    @traindriver: Again, you'll need to talk to the specific rental agency. Generally, you pay up-front in the US (and probably Canada), and you often get a cheaper weekly rate than a daily rate. As such, if you were, say, to pay for a week, then return the car after 5 days, you'd probably not get any money back--and if you were to change to a daily rate you might actually pay MORE.
    – Flimzy
    Aug 12, 2014 at 17:08

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