drive or ride
Get where you need to.
Big city or small, roads will have a part in taking you where you need to go. Will you need your own car, a car that you use sometimes, or just a ride?
Travel by Car
Buying a car: how to get a great deal on a new or used car
Car rentals & rideshare: maximize rewards and save money
I need my own car
Whether your car needs to have the new car smell or you would be happy with a used one, keep in mind that it is worthwhile to negotiate, either on your own or by using online resource one or more of the following sites:
Your writer has saved thousands of dollars using these sites. Each of these sites connect with car dealers across the U.S. who will compete to sell or lease a car to you. Should you buy or lease?
When you buy the car, it belongs to you after it is completely paid off. A benefit of buying a car is that the value of the car after paying for it belongs to you; it is your asset. A car lease (which can have terms of 36 or 48 months) can be compared to a multi-year rental. Some on H-1Bs may prefer a lease, as you will drive a new car for a time period that can align to length of stay of your visa.
As you surely know, cars are notoriously poor investments. Did you know that cars typically lose 20% of their value in the first year? (source) If this makes you decide that buying a used car is the road you would like to take, there are a number of resources that you can use both to purchase a car and also to determine the fair value of your car.
Some of these sites include:
Those mentioned above
Kelly Blue Book
How will you pay for your car?
While some sites dealers may offer loans direct to you, make sure that you get the best rate possible. A small change in your interest rate can lead to a big change in your monthly payments. You might want to look at car loan interest rates from financial institutions such as:
Banks: Chase, Bank of America, Capital One
Credit Unions (a credit union is a nonprofit entity and sometimes offer lower rates)
Your car dealer
By searching multiple types of loan providers, you may be able to quickly find a loan with the best available terms given your financial goals and background.
You might also consider getting a personal loan through a company like SoFi.
I will only need a car occasionally or just need a ride
If you don't need your own car, but do need the use of one on occasion, there are a variety of options available to you. One route is to look at sites like Orbitz, CheapAir.com, or Expedia. Any of these sites will search available travel deals (car rentals, flights, or hotels) across many providers. Particularly when you are hoping to find the best price available, these are good search options.
If you plan to travel often, particularly if travel is part of your job, you may want to compare the points programs for the major rental companies such as: Hertz, Avis, Enterprise, and others. Frequent travelers can benefit by receiving perks like free upgrades, free rentals, shorter lines, and preferred services. A downside of these companies is that a car rental can be expensive and may come with fees that you may not expect.
Some consumers prefer car share programs like ZipCar, which can be a great option if you live in a densely populated area. And if you just need a ride you might consider: Lyft, Uber, or other rideshare providers.