Q. I'm about to take my first business trip to Phoenix and need to rent a car. I'm accustomed to prices for a medium-sized car in the $18-$22 per day range for most of the locations I travel. Needless to say, I was dumbfounded when I looked today and prices were more than double that.  Why are prices so high in Phoenix?

A. It's because rental car companies have reduced their fleets and they can charge more for their product. But that brings up the question: why have airlines not been able to jack up fares the same way? the difference is that renters are a captive audience. Consumers can decide to stay home, but once they decide to fly somewhere, unless they want to take the public bus or have a friend who will loan them a car while they're visiting, they have no choice but to rent. The rental car companies have the upper hand. You might want to check out AutoSlash.com, which checks multiple rental car sites, and makes use of promo codes and coupons you might have otherwise missed.

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