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I have noticed that renting a car in some countries through a broker is ridiculously cheaper than directly through an agency.

For instance, I am travelling to Macedonia for a road trip and would like to rent a car for 10 days. Prices on rentalcars.com are approx 1.5 times cheaper than directly through an agency (Sixt, Hertz, Enterprise, etc). Why?

When I make a booking on RentalCars.com I only get a reservation. I would still have to go physically to the dealer's desk anyway to pick up the car, fill out the paperwork, and pay the rental. And the dealer would still attempt to sell me additional insurance. So how can rentalcars.com have a lower price than a dealer?

  • Related: Opaque hotel booking sites? - Rental car brokers are much the same thing but for cars rather than hotels – Gagravarr Apr 3 '16 at 21:27
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    @Gagravarr, I do not think this is related to "opaque hotel booking sites". I can clearly see what rental company I am renting at. – Maksim Sorokin Apr 3 '16 at 22:19
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    Are these proper like-for-like comparisons, including all of the same insurance and fees? The most common times I've noticed non-opaque websites offering a lower rate they turned out to have very different insurance coverages as standard – Gagravarr Apr 4 '16 at 14:37
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    @Vince even without digging into your post -- car rental for while booking "outside of the country" is a completely different topic. Usually it has to do with the residence -- there might be different requirements in regards to the insurance etc. That is why the price might be different. The question I asked is not related at all. – Maksim Sorokin Apr 4 '16 at 19:31
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    @MaksimSorokin I think you should read a couple of the questions/answers on this website, many are suggesting some answers to your question. Since your time seems too precious to read answers though, I will not take the time to compile them into an answer here. – Vince Apr 5 '16 at 7:29
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This is a matter of marketing, costs and strategies :

  • marketing : if there were no incentive to go through this kind of broker, they wouldn't attract any customer and they wouldn't exist.
  • costs : this is usually just about a website. They don't own any car inventory, any retail store and have very few employees so the costs are slightly less than a car rental company.
  • strategy : car rental can't discount themselves everywhere so their strategy is usually to give you a good price through this kind of websites to attract you and build brand loyalty with the hope that next time, you'll book directly through them. Then, they put regular prices on their own website but you have a lot of ways to get discounts via loyalty cards and newsletter...

Hope this clarifies a bit :)

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    thanks for the input. But unfortunately I do not think that answers the question. When I book a car through rentalcars.com, I get a booking for a concrete dealer that I choose -- I am still paying at the dealers desk when I take the car keys. – Maksim Sorokin Apr 4 '16 at 19:33
  • It doesn't matter who you pay, only the price really matters, isn't it? The website is just a reservation frontend. It doesn't take any money. But still, it has agreements with car dealers for specific pricing structure. – Olielo Apr 4 '16 at 19:47
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    you are probably right. But I just don't understand why it is like that. So the dealer still hopes to sell with higher price on the own page, but at the same time allows broker (rentalcars.com) to do the booking cheaper? – Maksim Sorokin Apr 4 '16 at 19:54
  • Yes that's right. Not everybody books online. Not everybody spends time checking for a better price on X sites. And not everybody is ready to book outside of "regular" channels. – Olielo Apr 4 '16 at 20:04

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