Main Photo: by Olya P
Trips become more comfortable and productive with the right equipment. A perfect one for the job is a car.
Renting a car on your next trip is one of the best ways to get around and discover a place you've never been to. If you've never rented a car before, we've got some useful tips to help get you behind the wheel of a rental with zero drama.
Don't Get Your Rental At The Airport
Everything is more expensive when you're in an airport, and that goes for car rentals as well. Don't grab a rental right when you get off the plane. It's more convenient, for sure, but it’s possible to save money if you take a cab to a rental company outside the airport.
Give The Vehicle a Thorough Inspection
Check the entire vehicle before you pull off the lot. This includes interior, exterior, engine, and trunk. Look closely for dents, scratches, dings, loose parts, faded paint, and missing components. Be sure to inform the rental car staff of your findings and document it using photos. Another item on your checklist should be to check the car by VIN number to be sure you're getting a roadworthy vehicle and not a junker that's been in multiple accidents.
Credit Cards Are Your Best Friend
You will always want to use your credit card to hold rental reservations. In fact, most car rental companies don't even accept prepaid cards and debit cards. This is because they need to check your credit score to verify you can indeed pay the rental price, insurance, tolls, and any extra charges. Save some time and needless frustration by using your credit card.
Choose Your Own Insurance
I highly recommend you avoid getting insurance from the rental car company because these are extremely overpriced. Shop around for more affordable options before picking up your car. You can also check with your existing insurance provider to see if your plan covers rentals. Many travel credit cards come with rental protection built in as well, be sure to check the fine print by either going online or calling in and asking specific questions.
The Best Prices Are Online
Browse online to find the best prices, usually days or weeks in advance will to get you the lowest price possible. Be wary of some car rental companies, not all are honest. It literally pays to do your due diligence on them. Research the companies that are offering the lowest prices and check the forums for any red flags. If a price is unbelievably low it usually means it’s too good to be true.
Gas Up Before Returning the Car
Don't forget to fill up the gas tank before you return the vehicle. Rental car companies charge an exorbitant price for fuel once it is returned. Sometimes three or four times a gas stations price per gallon. It only takes a few minutes, and it can save you tons of cash.
Don't Go Off-Roading
Avoid the urge to go off-roading when you're using a rental unless you paid extra for a 4x4 vehicle . If not, you’re just asking for trouble. Taking a sedan on a road that is bumpy or even worse, unpaved can take a toll on the car. And it will show once you return it.
Use Your Own GPS
Rental companies typically offer GPS systems as an add-on. Definitely, decline. Most of us already have a great GPS system in our pockets: your smartphone. If you are heading out of the country be sure to download the entire map of the city or country you're visiting on Google Maps for offline, turn-by-turn navigation.
Limit The Designated Drivers
No, I’m not talking about drinking and acting responsible. Although you should do that also. I’m talking about who is listed on the rental contract as a designated driver. Choose your them carefully, and limit the number of people on the contract to two since additional drivers cost more money. You should expect to pay extra if you're 25 years old or younger.
Even though it may seem like extra work, nothing beats renting a car when traveling. You get to visit sites faster, and avoid the hassle of learning how to ride a bus, or train while on the road. I understand renting a car can be daunting, especially for people doing it for the first time, but once you get pass the initial shock you’ll love it.
As long as you stick to the rules of the road and follow these car rental tips on your next trip you will save time and get the best deal possible.
Patrick Peterson is a writer/editor at AutoDetective. Born and raised in the automotive world. He's a passionate writer who crafts exquisite content pieces about everything related to cars and bikes.