Renting a car is supposed to be a money and time saver especially when you are travelling but it often ends up being a nightmare for travellers. There are lots of stories online of people who were forced to part with huge amounts of money to rental car companies, some more than enough to buy new cars for nothing. You need to remember that rental car companies are in business and their employees are taught to do anything possible to get more money out of you. So, don’t believe those unlimited mile adverts on booking websites until you get the rental agreement and don’t pay for anything that isn’t necessary for the car to keep going. Here are 10 tips that will save you money the next time you rent a car.
Avoid Picking Up at The Airport
This is one of the most basic pieces of advice that many people ignore when it comes to renting a car. Most airports are revenue hubs for the local authorities and everything there is hiked including fees. You may realize that the cost of picking up a car at the next rental car outlet away from the airport is way cheaper than the picking up at the airport option. That is because you are paying a lot more for the convenience which can be avoided if you just accept a short taxi ride to another location to pick up a car.
Insist On Using Your Own Insurance
Ever heard of someone who bought $3,000 worth of insurance on a rental car because they said yes to something they didn’t understand while picking up a car? Well, it happens lots of times. Most car rental companies will charge you up to 70% more money by demanding that you buy their insurance which is charged daily. Now, if you have a driving license, chances are you have your personal insurance which covers any car your drive including rentals. If you don’t drive, you should check with your credit card company because many do offer collision and damage in which case you will only have to buy liability insurance. You shouldn’t buy insurance from a rental car if you have insurance though.
Avoid Pre-Paying at All Costs
Renting a car is a contract and once you pay, the company will do everything in their power to hold onto that money. The worst comes when you have to cancel or change the dates of pickup and return of the vehicle. It is interpreted as a breach of contract and they will charge you huge cancellation fees especially when you do it within a day of the day of pickup. While prepaying may seem cheap on paper, other costs often come up when you pick up the car and it may just come up to the same cost of paying at pickup. Therefore, to avoid losing money if your plans change, just hold onto your money until you have the car.
Don’t Use Company Toll Passes
Most of the so-called rental car packages including GPS, toll passes and carriers cost lots of money and you will probably not need them. If you are new to a place, use your smartphone as your GPS. Most hidden charges come from toll passes which the rental companies may charge you three to four times what you would pay on the toll road. Some rental companies will charge you for the toll pass for going through the area where a toll road is located even if you don’t use the road. Just carry some change and use it to pay toll fees out of pocket.
Fill The Tank Yourself Before Returning
Many attendants will tell you that you don’t have to fill up the car that you can just return it and they will refuel it. Well, that is a bad idea because the price for the full tank of fuel when you return the car will be up to three times the actual cost at the gas station. Moreover, whatever level of fuel you return the car at, they will insist on charging you a full tank anyways. Just locate a gas station near the rental car outlet where you are returning the car and fill up the tank yourself.
Check And Photograph Damages Before Taking the Car
Many people have paid for damages they never caused because of ignoring this advice. Your insurance premiums will also go up if the company has to pay for dents on a rental car even if you didn’t cause them. It is therefore smart to check both inside and outside the rental car and photograph any dents before taking the car. That way, you have some evidence against extortion when you return the car. If the attendant insists that you caused damage, insist on seeing it yourself and have it valued before you leave because you may be slapped with some charges you never saw coming.
Tap Into Your AAA, Costco or Other Memberships
Any chance to save money while travelling is always welcome and trade union and driver club memberships do come in handy sometimes. Costco, AAA and AARP sometimes partner with rental car companies to offer discounts to members. If you have any such membership, do check if they have any promotions or discounts and tap into them when you rent your next car.
Check To Ensure They Don’t Double-Charge You Credit Card
It may be intentional or mistakes but it happens that a rental car company charges your card more than once. Some people have complained about having been charged up to six months after they rented a car. You should therefore check your credit card statements to ensure you were only charged once. You should also hold onto the receipts and all the paperwork because some ridiculous claims may be raised long after your trip.
Don’t Accept Child Car Seats from The Rental Company
If you are travelling with your baby, it would be smart to buy your own seats for the baby because rental car companies will charge a huge premium for theirs. It will be cheaper to come with your own seat or get one from a store because the company will charge you per day for the seats. The same goes for GPS.
Use Car Rental Discount Websites Such as Expedia
Many people are aware of this now and they no longer use the rental company apps and websites. Websites like Expedia and Autoslash don’t work for any particular rental car company so they will give you’re the details of all the discounts available from multiple companies. The sites will also help you locate discounts available to you if you have Costco or AAA.
If you know of any other car-renting tips and tricks do let us know in the comments below.