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A 'perfect storm' is causing massive rental-car shortages, and prices are skyrocketing up to $700/dy

A rental-car shortage is pummeling the US and may only get worse as travel increases.

Vaccinations and easing travel restrictions have been pushing more people to travel again. Airline and hotel costs are still lower than they were before the pandemic, Nerdwallet recently reported. But if you're planning a last-minute vacation to a warm destination, you might want to check the local car-rental prices before you book any flights or rooms.

Hot tourist locations in Hawaii, Florida, Phoenix, Arizona, and Puerto Rico are being hit by what some are calling a "car-rental apocalypse."

Two or three years ago, the average car rental in Hawaii cost about $50 a day. Now some rental cars are going for over $500 a day, Jonathan Weinberg, the founder and CEO of AutoSlash, told Insider. In extreme cases, prices have risen to $700 a day, more than doubling 2019's numbers, Chris Woronka, a senior hotel-and-leisure analyst at Deutsche Bank, told Insider.

Procrastinators looking to book a rental car a week in advance in places like Florida could see prices about five to 10 times the average, Weinberg said. But even travelers who are planning ahead can see double or triple the typical costs.

"People are quickly realizing that they need to take the cost of the rental car into account, because it's no longer just an add-on," Weinberg said. "It literally could be the majority cost of your trip, so folks who are planning things last minute are unpleasantly surprised by it."

What the rental-car companies are saying