LOUISVILLE, Ky. — If you need a rental car in the next few months, you may want to book it early, and you could see higher rates, due in part to what some are calling a “massive shortage” in inventory. 

What You Need To Know

  • Some cities are experiencing longer waits for rental cars

  • Rates may be higher than normal

  • The issue is due in part to a "massive shortage" in rental car inventory after rental car companies sold off many cars, says Jonathan Weinberg of AutoSlash.com

  • The Louisville Regional Airport Authority reported no major issues 

At Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport Thursday afternoon, rental cars were still available in the garage. 

Laurence McGrath of New York said he had waited more than an hour for one.

"We’re still not at the desk yet," he told Spectrum News as he stood in line. 

No travelers said they had any trouble finding a car to rent at the airport Thursday. 

Rental car companies there have not encountered major issues, according to Natalie Chaudoin, director of public relations with the Louisville Regional Airport Authority.

"They are being very cautious to mitigate any issues with their reservation system, so for example, they’re only going to take a limited number of reservations to match their available inventory," she said. 

According to the American Car Rental Association, the industry saw rentals at airports reduced by between 50 and 80% from the start of the pandemic to September.

Jonathan Weinberg is the head of AutoSlash.com, which tracks rental car rates.

Last year, the companies sold off many cars to survive, but then travel began to rebound this year, he said.

“What that translated to was rates of hundreds of dollars a day, anywhere from two to five times the normal rate, and that was when you could find a rental car at all," Weinberg said. "In some cases, in some areas, we saw complete sellout situations where you couldn’t find a rental car at any price." 

Weinberg expects rates will continue to rise and recommends booking early. 

An online search of available rental car reservations in Louisville for this weekend showed daily rates for sedans in the $60s, but close to $100 a day for Memorial Day weekend. 

Spectrum News left messages with rental car companies Hertz and Enterprise but has not yet received a response.