$1,000 a day to rent a car? Low supply, surging demand are pushing up prices in Hawaii

Rental cars are a hot commodity in Honolulu. If you can reserve one ― and that’s not guaranteed ― prepare to pay top dollar.
Updated: Mar. 30, 2021 at 2:42 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Rental cars are a hot commodity in Honolulu. If you can reserve one ― and that’s not guaranteed ― prepare to pay top dollar.

A spike in spring break travelers is causing a shortage of rental cars in a number of US vacation hotspots, including Honolulu. And that’s causing sky-high prices for vacationers.

Several travel websites on Monday showed very few rental cars available for Honolulu this week.

Vans were going for as much as $500 a day. Convertibles were renting for $1,000 or more.

On Maui, the cheapest rental is $722 each day for a Toyota Camry.

[Read a related report: ‘If you can’t obey our rules, don’t come’: Maui mayor has stern warning for visitors]

Timo Lee, a part-time Honolulu resident, was looking for a rental car and shocked by the prices.

She said she’s never had this problem before.

“Expedia, we tried Enterprise. Enterprise was like completely out of stock. Some companies have cars, but they are very expensive,” she said.

Carson Mann who is visiting from Minnesota said the prices for a rental car weren’t as high a week ago.

“My mom looked into getting a rental car, she said that it costs about $1200 for roughly like 21 days about a week ago,” said Mann.

Nicole Narami and her family arrived Monday evening from California and said they booked a rental weeks in advance, but say they’ll have to catch an Uber to their condo instead.

“So, you know, it’s really been kind of tough, you know, after like, six, seven hours of flight,” said Narami. “We expect the car to be ready and like just drive but no, it hasn’t been.”

Jerry Agrusa, UH Manoa Professor in the School of Travel Industry Management at the Shidler College of Business said a low supply in rental cars is because there was so much unknown as to when tourism would re-open and vaccines would be approved.

“Because of the pandemic the car rental companies had nowhere to put all the cars so what they had to do is they had to get rid of them, they had to sell them,” said Agrusa.

Rental car fees on Kauai are under $100, which Agrusa say it’s because they still have quarantine and resort bubble restrictions in place.

But the surge in demand is impacting other services, too.

“There’s also trouble getting Lyft, Uber, like all kinds of stuff. It’s really busy right now,” Lee said.

According to CNN, following a year of deep losses, rental car companies have been unable to rebuild their fleets, especially with auto plants shut by a shortage of computer chips needed to build cars.

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