Car rental costs skyrocket in Calgary as demand for summer travel returns

CALGARY — For months now there have been reports of sky high rental car prices in major U.S. cities. Now those looking to rent a car from Calgary are seeing a similar situation.

“Prices are based on supply and demand. Supply is nowhere, demand is high so prices are more than four times [higher] compared to before COVID,” said Baljeet Sidhu, owner, Routes Car Rental, near Calgary airport.

Sidhu said a midsize SUV which would usually run $80-90 this time of year is closer to $300 a day, if the vehicle is even available.

“Before COVID we were running 550 cars and we were planning to increase to 750 but right now we have 140 cars,” said Sidhu.

Sidhu said it’s routine to sell cars to update fleet. Other rental companies strapped for cash also sold off inventory during the pandemic. Now the problem is demand is returning while automakers are still struggling to produce new vehicles due to supply chain issues.

Sidhu said orders are in to American and Japanese manufacturers, but he just doesn’t know when new cars will reach his lots.

BOOK IN ADVANCE

Travel expert Onanta Forbes suggests anyone planning a post-pandemic vacation should book their car rental as far in advance as possible.

“I would say that if you book in advance, you’re going to be able to take advantage or potential savings and also you have that peace of mind that when you get to that destination you’re going to have a car ready and prepped for you to go.”

Forbes said you might not get the best price booking last minute or even get a vehicle at all.

“You might get to the counter for a last minute car rental or afterthought to getting that car and there’s no cars available because there’s not enough cars in their fleet to address the demand that’s out there right now.”

Forbes suggests searching for promo codes and using your credit card to hold a reservation. If you find a better price later at least you had a backup.

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