1. My flight arrives at midnight. Will the rental car company still be open that late so that I can pick up my car?
Priceline assigns a rental car company to you based on the pickup time you enter, taking into account the operating hours of each particular rental car company at the airport in which your rental will be picked up.
2. Can I pick up my car earlier than the time I entered when I placed my offer?
You should not have any problem picking up your car earlier in the day on the same day as you've designated. It is important to know, however, that rentals are based on a 24 hour period beginning at pickup. Therefore, if you entered a 6:00 p.m. pickup time and instead pick up the car at 3:00 p.m., then you will need to return the car no later than 3:00 p.m. on the day that you designated as your drop off date when you bid or you will be charged the full daily rate (not your bid amount) in effect at that location for the car class of your rental. Most rental car companies have a 1 hour grace period; however, they are not obligated to extend this courtesy to Priceline customers unless it is specifically mentioned on your rental car contract.
3. Is it best to bid far in advance or at the last minute or somewhere in between.
It is my view that rental car bids should not be placed too far in advance unless you are bidding in a city projected to be very high occupancy, such as Orlando as Christmastime. Rental car companies run promotions quite frequently, so if you lock yourself into a non-cancellable rental too early, you run the risk of missing out on a better rate.
4. How much should I bid for a rental car?
Check the Websites for Checking Rental Car Rates category on this board to avail yourself of any promotion that may apply to the city/car class in which you are bidding. Then check the website of each of the five major rental car companies that Priceline uses, as well as any other rental car company's website that you would be willing to use if a better rate was available. You'll then know what price to beat. As to what you should actually bid, I recommend that you scan through the winning bids posted on this board to see if there are any listings that are similar to your parameters (city/car class and weekend vs. weekday). Acceptable offers can vary significantly by city even when available rates are similar. Therefore, I am unable to suggest a general offer amount for rental cars.
5. Important to read if your pickup day is a Thursday and your return is no later than the following Tuesday.
Weekend rates are effective for rental car pickups no earlier than 12:00 noon on Thursday with a return no later than 12:00 noon the following Tuesday. While I do not know if your pickup and dropoff times matter when using Priceline, they clearly do when using Hotwire, as I've seen a daily rate more than 100% greater just by entering an 11:00 a.m. pickup on a Thursday (with the return no later than noon Tuesday) vs. entering a 12:00 noon pickup time. I don't think it would be unreasonable to assume that Priceline uses similar pricing, but I just do not know. If you absolutely must pick up your car before noon, then you probably don't have an option, but if you are flexible, it could result in a significant savings. Also, if you are keeping your car past noon the following Tuesday, this should not apply to you. This FAQ applies only to cars picked up on Thursdays as that is the day weekend rates first take effect.
6. I only want a rental car company that is onsite at the airport. Does Priceline use offsite rental car companies?
Priceline uses the five major rental car companies, some of which are located onsite and some of which are located offsite, depending on the airport. Most airport websites indicate which companies are located onsite, so you can check there to determine if the options available will work for you.
7. Can I drive my Priceline rental car into Canada or Mexico?
The only way to determine this is to call Alamo, Avis, Budget, National and Hertz (the rental car companies Priceline uses for Name Your Own Price) and ask them.