ORLANDO, Fla. — As the summer travel season gets ready to kick off, there is one problem at the airport you may not have thought of: a national shortage of rental cars.

What You Need To Know

  • Travelers maybe too late to get a rental cars for July, says rental car dealer

  • The pandemic is to blame for the shortage of rental cars

  • If you need one, the best advice is to shop early

“Alaska is sold out for the entire summer travel season,” said Jonathan Weinberg, the founder and CEO of AutoSlash.com. “That means if you’re looking for a rental car in July or August, you’re already too late.”

At Orlando International Airport, passengers can find a rental car, but it will come at a cost.

“The rental car for only three days was going to run us $1,300, no way,” said Sharon Clark, who flew in for her birthday with her family from Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

While the Clarks looked for a 15-seater van for their big family, the sticker shock could still hit many travelers looking to rent a vehicle this summer.

Like many industries, car rental companies are blaming the issue on the pandemic.

“The rental car companies saw demand drop as much as 90% and they basically had to shift into survival mode and that translated to selling off hundreds of thousands of vehicles into the used car market,” said Weinberg.

Demand has grown this year. Rental cars were sold out at 18 of Florida’s 20 airports for Presidents’ Day Weekend, said Weinberg.

That issue could become a problem this summer in the Sunshine State.

“Most areas in Florida, they’re seeing high demand and we’re definitely expecting sell out areas in Orlando, Tampa area, St. Pete area,” he said.

If a rental car is available, expect to pay more.

“We’re seeing prices of over $100 a day, in some cases, prices approaching $500 a day, so it’s pretty crazy,” said Weinberg.

Automakers shut down production during the height of the pandemic and a global semiconductor shortage means it could be this fall before rental car companies can replenish their supply.

“We’ve even heard of people renting U-hauls in some cases, so you really need to think outside the box a little bit,” Weinberg said.

The best advice is to book as early as you can, and look at car sharing apps like Turo or Getaround.