Renting a car, no matter whether domestically or internationally or if its for business or vacation, can be filled with a ton of potential pitfalls or dare I say traps?
During my days in the travel business I have dealt with alot of car rental companies and so I have been able to come up with some tips and advice on how to save money and time when looking for a car rental.
Hopefully, by considering some of these suggestions, you will find the whole process of renting a car much easier.
Booking online is often cheaper
I bet you didn’t think I would say that hu? – but its true! Check it out for yourself!
Compare, Contrast, and Find a Deal
Comparison websites like you’ll find here are a great way to rent a car. Using a site like this one, you can compare all the major car rental suppliers against one another on the same screen, and find the cheapest deal.
Look for Off Site Car Rental Companies
Alot of times these are the smaller companies. You will most likely have to take a free shuttle or even taxi there, but they are often much cheaper and will save you alot of money for the same car.
Don’t be up-sold
Never get any of the insurance they try to sell you, your insurance should cover you if something happens. Make sure you call them before you leave to see what they cover.
Don’t Prepay For Gas
They will charge you for a full tank whether you use a full tank or not…even though they tell you it’s cheaper, just don’t do it and fill up the tank at a nearby gas station before you drop the car off.
Don’t Buy the Upgrade!
I have found that on some economy cars (although it almost non exsistent now) you’ll probably have to hand-crank the windows, or manually adjust the seats or be without satellite radio or the in car GPS, but most people don’t need fancy for a car rental, you just need a car to get you from Point A to Point B.
Don’t Prepay for the Car Rental –
This way, If you happen to find a better deal somewhere else, or if something else comes up and you need to change your plans, at least you won’t be hit over the head with a cancellation fee!
It also means you can make a few bookings and choose the one that’s best for you as the date gets closer. By booking early you can lock in good prices, and all you have to do is just cancel the ones you don’t need before the date.
Look at all your Insurance Options
Depending on where you are going your car rental may already come with some form of basic insurance where, if you get into a accident you will have to pay the deductible which could be high, so before you go check with your credit card company to see what they will cover or gets some travel insurance for this.
Usually the car rental companies will charge a lot more for this type of supplement.
Check your Pick Up and Drop Off Times
Since most car rental companies charge in 24 hour blocks so if you don’t need the car until say 5pm make sure you note that when reserving as the default times are usually around 9 or 10am.
When dropping the car off, if you think you are going to be late, call the car rental company and see if they will give you a grace period to return the car.
GPS Rental or Baby Seat Rentals
Both can be very spendy so try to bring your own in both cases. Your phone and google maps should work just find domestically and if going international then you can buy one when you get to your destination and then sell it when you get home if you don’t plan to use it again.
For Baby Seats
Many airlines will let you check them in with your luggage for free or for a nominal fee. You could also buy a basic child seat once you get to your destination. Depending how long you need it, this may be a cheaper option and then at the end of your trip, you can either sell or donate the car seat.
Rental Pick up and Drop off
Try to get and leave the car at the same location otherwise they will probably charge you a Drop off fee and that’s usually pretty expensive.
Be Careful of the Tolls
Ask when reserving about what the offer for toll passes. Some Car Rental companies offer an “all-you-can-drive” toll option where you pay a set fee and can use it going through as many tolls as you like.
Others will charge you an administration fee on top of any tolls, so be careful of the fine print. .. You may also want to see if yours ( if you have one) will work where you are going.