PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - As more people become vaccinated and get the urge to travel, they're running into an unexpected frustration: a nationwide shortage of rental cars.
At Portland International Airport, the price of renting a car has increased significantly.
In popular travel destinations like Hawaii, cars are not only expensive, but also booked several weeks out.
"The rental car market is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my 11 years in the business," said Jonathan Weinberg, Founder and CEO of Autoslash.com, a company that helps people find the best possible deals on rental cars. "Unfortunately many people are canceling their trips. We’ve heard of a number of people who basically have trips planned, they booked their air fare, they booked their hotels and then they try and get a rental car and they realize it’s impossible to get a rental car."
Weinberg said the pandemic caused the rental car crunch, beginning in March, 2020.
Due to pandemic restrictions and wary travelers, rental car companies saw demand drop by 90%.
To stay afloat, those companies sold off as many cars as they could into the used car market.
Now, with more people wanting to travel again, there aren't enough cars to go around.
Compounding matters, auto manufacturers trying to get more vehicles off the line are finding a shortage of computer chips, slowing down the increase in supply of new cars.
Weinberg thinks it could be fall before the rental car companies replenish their stock.
In the meantime, the cars that are available are fetching premium prices, into the hundreds of dollars per day.
Weinberg said anyone traveling and hoping to rent a car should plan well in advance and book as early as possible, and shop around for better prices.