In this article, I am sharing the top 10 tips when renting a car for a trip. Renting a car, like many other experiences, can be both easy and complicated. It’s easy to book a car but often you are given a number of choices that can get a bit confusing. It’s very common to get offers about extras such as insurance, GPS, refueling, additional driver, etc. All these things seem important, but sometimes they come at a high cost. Here, I want to review few topics, which are relevant for car rental in general. You might be familiar with some of the tips, especially if you have traveled a lot. But some of them will be useful even if you are an experienced traveler.
Tip 1: Sign up for reward programs
Some of you might have access to a car rental rewards program through your bank card, loyalty card, or in some cases through your employer. If you do not participate in any of the loyalty programs, make sure to register for one. I think the biggest perk is that some of these programs will help you to have your car ready when you get to the airport so you don’t have to waste time checking in at the counter. You just see your reservation on your app or look for your name on the board in the lot, which should indicate your car. If you have a premium credit card, some car rental companies might give you higher status in their loyalty program.
Tip 2: Inspect the vehicle thoroughly
Often, once we receive a car we want to begin our trip as soon as possible, and in those cases, we forget about inspecting its condition. Make sure to record each side of the vehicle to spot any existing damage such as dents and scratches, prior to your departure. It will help you prevent any future misunderstandings regarding the damages that existed before accepting the car. Imagine the employees asking about the damage after your trip. In such instances you can simply use your recordings to prove that the damage was already there when you got the car. Without doing so you might be kept liable for the damages which you did not do.
Tip 3: Check your insurances
Often premium credit cards offer primary insurance coverage for rental cars. This will enable you to avoid expensive insurance coverage when renting a car. However, it might be a basic insurance, and you might need to get an additional coverage. It would be best to do that online instead of choosing expensive options at the counter.
Tip 4: Avoid using points
If you are planning to use the insurance that comes together with your credit card, then you need to think twice before ordering your car with points. In some cases, the insurance from credit card is not valid unless you make the full payment with that specific card. But this might differ based on your credit card provider.
Tip 5: Avoid underage rental fees
Most car rental companies charge extra fee if you’re under the age of 25. While this charge is hard to avoid if you’re under 25, there are offers out there that allow you to avoid this extra cost. For instance, if you are a AAA member, the fee will be waived with Hertz. Also, if you’re a USAA member, the fee can be waived with Enterprise.
Tip 6: Avoid refueling options
Car rental companies often give you refueling options which at first seem convenient. However, these are generally expensive, and in some cases are priced up to three times the usual cost of fuel. The best is to refuel the car yourself before dropping it off.
Tip 7: Pack a phone charger, cable, and phone holder
When renting a car, it is good to have a charger, cable and holder for your phone. It will help you avoid the cost of renting GPS and at the same time you will be using a device that you are familiar with.
Tip 8: Switch on speed limit indicators in your app
Some navigation apps, such as Google Maps offer the option of displaying speed limits in some locations. This might be very useful especially when driving on roads you are not familiar with.
Tip 9: Have the essential items with you
It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it”. Assuming that your car is already equipped with a standard emergency kit, there are few additional items you could also take, such as – a copy of your insurance, paper maps, flashlight, chargers, and cables.
Tip 10: Use ECO Mode, if the car supports it
Nowadays many cars, including the ones used by rental companies, have the Eco Mode installed in it. Make sure to enable it if you want to save on fuel. Sometimes it might make your car feel less powerful but usually it’s worth the savings.