Pssttt… Want a cheat code for saving about 50% off of renting a car when you travel? In most parts of the world, if you rent a stick shift car you can save a ton of money.
Now, in America, the most common response to this blog post might be “wait, where can you rent a stick shift car?” It’s near to impossible to find a stick shift rental in the states. But go overseas and stick shift cars (both rented and owned) are the norm because stick shift cars tend to be both more fuel efficient (hey European gas prices), cheaper to buy (automatic transmissions cost more to manufacture), and are both cheaper to maintain and last longer because of their simplicity (fewer moving pieces = fewer things can break). Thus, just about everyone who learns to drive outside of the US learns to drive on a stick shift.
Rental car companies know all of this and they use it to their advantage. Here’s how I imagine the strategy meeting going at Big Rental Inc: “American wants to rent an automatic overseas because they don’t know how to drive a stick? Awesome, let’s charge them twice as much money.” And most Americans pay because, well, they don’t have any other choice. Nothing will remind you of home in America more than a corporation raking you over the coals to extract more money from your pocket.
So what kind of savings are we talking about if you rent a stick shift? Here are some examples.
Automatic Transmission Car Rental Prices
Manual Transmission Car Rental Prices
Knowing how to drive a stick shift will save you $204 (about 40%) in the economy range.
The other thing to note is that there’s an available car category that’s cheaper than economy if you drive stick. The cheapest stick shift car (in this case a mini) is 62% cheaper than the cheapest automatic car. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend that $317 in savings on some fine Italian driving moccasins. Or maybe some wine? Sure! Heck, $317 to do just fine in fueling me on a hedonistic tour of Florence’s museums, restaurants, cafes, wine shops, and gelaterias. I’m sure I’d probably have a few bucks left over the next day to remedy my hangover. But it’d be ok because it’d be an Italian hangover. How fancy.
The savings can vary and you may find that certain car categories are not offered in a manual, so be sure to do your research to see where you can get the best deal.
The savings are not just limited to Europe. In Argentina the cheapest car rental I found on Sixt.com was an manual Ford for $50.25 per day whereas the cheapest automatic was a Ford Focus for $121.25 per day. You’ll save with a stick in India, though not that much, with a manual going for $32 and an automatic going for $41 per day on Zoomcar.com. When I checked out Australia on VroomVroomVroom I saw that the prices between automatics and manuals weren’t that different. But they make up for it by naming their car rental site Vroom Vroom Vroom. I mean, what better way to capture the fun loving ethos of the land down under. As in all things, your mileage may vary.
Keep in mind that driving a stick is not the only way to save when you rent a car in while traveling. Savvy Backpacker wrote a great post with advice on how to save money while renting a car abroad. My personal favorite is the advice to do a long term rental which, to be honest, I didn’t even know companies would do. The more you knowwwwww….
If you’re taking a trip overseas and would rather spend your hard earned greenbacks on having fun, rent a stick shift. And if you don’t know how, we’d be happy to help you learn to drive a manual transmission.