Car Rental Guide
For extended trips, especially trips that involve flying and leaving the car at home, car rentals are often a huge necessity. Rental cars provide a little more freedom and provide less of an issue while traveling. However, some concerns can come up regarding rental insurance, fees, and agreements, so it’s best to know what to do in terms of renting a car and to have these tips in the back of your mind.
Choosing Your Vehicle
Think carefully about what you need in a vehicle, such as the size, gas mileage, and overall convenience. If you prefer automatic transmission, be sure to reserve a car that isn’t a stick shift.
Booking Your Vehicle
Depending on where you’re traveling, some rental agencies may offer lower rates. Prior to booking, review company standards. Don’t be afraid to shop around—before visiting the agency in person, try to do a little online comparison shopping first. While shopping, check for any rewards programs your credit card company may offer and if your employer may receive a negotiated rate.
Before booking, try your best to find any promotional codes or coupons for your rental. Some coupons can save you anywhere from 5-20 percent off. If you haven’t already, consider joining a loyalty program with your car rental company. Depending on the agency, some may offer a little more convenience to rewards members and allow you to become eligible for special discounts and upgrades.
Understanding Your Rental Agreement
Read the terms and conditions carefully. If you’re booking over the phone, speak with your agent about any restrictions or questions you may have regarding your rental. Ask about penalties for no shows, how long they can hold your vehicle, and if there are any other fees for extra drivers.
Make sure you’ll need your rental on the first day. For example, if your rental is just to leave the airport and go to your hotel for the evening, see if there’s a shuttle that can take you instead.
Before leaving, inspect your car for any damage and check all lights and signals so that you can report defects initially. Be sure to take time to get familiar with your rental—you’ll want to learn how to operate the windshield wipers before rainfall begins, for example. Try to remember key features about your vehicle so you can spot it quicker in parking lots between trips.
Returning Your Car
Fill the gas tank up yourself with an amount you’ll actually use. Avoid gas stations near the airport, as they are usually more expensive due to their location and convenience. Before filling up, try to find stations with cheaper gas or rewards deals. Sites like gasbuddy.com allow you to compare fuel prices online.
Try to return your vehicle on the listed date since some agencies may charge an early return fee, which is just as bad as a late fee. Before leaving your automobile, double check the car for any personal items and review your agreement carefully to make sure you aren’t being overcharged or if any extra fees are listed by mistake.
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