The Value of a Free Car Seat with Vehicle Rental

Car Seat Happy Baby

If there is one thing I have learned when reserving rental vehicles, it is the value of car seats. The cost to rent not one but two car seats along with a vehicle can skyrocket the cost, often to double or more than the price of the actual vehicle. Back in December I had written about our initial car rental game plan when it came to Hawaii this summer.

First up was our plans to use Super Shuttle. When trying to make a reservation in Los Angeles, I was informed the vehicles do not provide car seats. Super Shuttle’s response was they were highly recommended but not required within Burbank County. While I might attempt to wing the ride to and from the airport without car seats, Mrs. InACents would give me an ear full the entire time questioning how safe it was, so we opted to not go with Super Shuttle. I also agree that saving a couple of bucks is not worth the risk.

Instead, we looked into renting yet another vehicle for our trip. This will make the fourth vehicle rental over the 2.5 week period, which equates to lots of expense. Since we will be traveling with my in-laws for half of the trip, we are renting a mini-van for the week on Oahu and the week on the Big Island. Add to that a vehicle for the last couple days we are in Oahu, and now a vehicle in Los Angeles, and the price starts to add up.

We have never rented with Hertz before, but when we discovered the AAA discount code 1805452 included one free car seat, we were sold if the prices worked out cheaper than the competitors. Over the course of several weeks, we were saving hundreds of dollars using the Hertz AAA code including one car seat rental when compared to other companies with two car seats.

However, I have always had great success getting super low rates with National. There is a laundry list of discount codes out there as well as coupons that can be stacked, but what I discovered was a secret hidden inside the Car and Driver discount code XVC1092. What is not publicized anywhere is that the rate code includes at least two (2) free car seats.

At first I was skeptical when I reserved two mini-vans and the price did not change after adding on two child/toddler seats ($9.99/Day; $60.00/Max Amt). So I sent National an email requesting verification that my rate I was quoted actually included two car seats, and I was not going to be surprised with extra charges. The response I received back was “due to the discount code / contract ID on these reservations, the child seats cost is included in your rate.” Ok, seems legit to me and I had written documentation to take with me to the rental.

However, before I officially made all of my reservations with National, I wanted to actually physically talk with National and verify car seats were included in the rate code. So I called up National and again verified to a live person that the Car and Driver rate code included two (2) free car seats. Note, I asked nothing about who qualified to use the rate code, only if the rate code included car seat rentals.

There is still some debate about where the Car and Drive rate code came from and who qualifies for its use. However, hundreds if not thousands of people have used the National Car and Driver discount code with success, so I have absolutely no concerns about using it. I may have even used it in years past, but do not recall. With successful use of the Car and Driver rate code, this can be a huge benefit to families who require car seats with their rental.

As always, only use rates codes which you are eligible.

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10 thoughts on “The Value of a Free Car Seat with Vehicle Rental

  1. @AmyRenee: Thanks for the read! I did not realize just how widely of an issue car seat rental cleanliness had become. Hopefully since that was an older article, the car rental companies have “cleaned” up their act. We will report accordingly with our experience.

  2. We’ve rented car seats before, with mixed results. Some were brand new, and some looked like they might be more dangerous than strapping the kid to the hood of the car. Personally I think they should always have brand new seats. After all, at $9.99 a day, how often do they have to rent the seats out to recoup their costs?

    • @Steve: I totally agree in that the seats should be newer and cleaned after each use. They are a cash cow for the rental car companies, so the car companies should ensure happy families by not cheaping out on car seats.

  3. As a Child Passenger Safety Technician, I would strongly advise against using car seats from rental companies. Along with the uncertainity regarding the cleanliness of the seat, you also do not know the history of the seat you’re using. It could have been in prior collisions which would deem it unsafe to use. Attempts to clean it may have been made with methods that compromise the safety of the seat (ie. bleach or submerged straps).

    While it may be inconvenient or cost more, the safest option for your child is to bring your child’s car seat with you which ideally they should be riding in on the airplane as well.

  4. Andy says:

    Any update on the National Code? I tried to use it but shows invalid. I need the 2 car seats for free! . Any updates will be greatly appreciated.

    • @Andy: Thanks for your question. I just ran a couple different scenarios through the National system, and the code still appears to work when adding two car seats to the reservation. Just make sure to select “Child/toddler Seat ” for the reservation, as the other options add additional costs. I’ve used this code several times with no issues. When you get to the desk, they ask what kind of car seats you need anyways, so it doesn’t matter which you select in the reservation, as it shows you were allotted two (2).

  5. LAX Shuttle also offers service to and from all four major Cruise Terminals in Los Angeles and Southern California. Whether your traveling for business or pleasure, LAX Shuttle will get you to and from your destination to LAX.

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