Choosing a Car and Renting One Online
Renting a vehicle online offers the flexibility and freedom when you travel. However, a car rental can sometimes give you headaches such as when looking for the best deals or finding the appropriate insurance options for your particular situation. However, with the simple tips below, car rental problems will be avoided, and you will be able to save money on your next trip.
Choosing a Car to Rent
Especially when travelling with kids or a lot of luggage, you have to decide carefully on the type of vehicle you will need. Will an SUV or a large sedan suffice? You can save some cash on gas and rental rates if you get the smallest possible model that will fit your needs.
Aside from the size, other factors must also be considered. Do you want an eco-friendly automobile? Do you prefer to drive with automatic transmission? Check if the rental company offers some extras that you may need like a GPS system.
Booking the Car
If you are renting just for a few days, you may want to contact a well-known major rental service provider. However, for longer rentals that may last for a week or more, you may receive better quotes from local rental firms, especially auto dealers. Bear in mind that if you opt to rent from a local company and intend to drive a lot, they may not have the support services provided by big companies in case you figure in an accident or the car breaks down.
Before booking, make sure you have already shopped around for good deals. There are a lot of aggregator sites and booking engines that you can use such as Kayak and Travelocity. Also, make sure to visit the sites of the car rental companies you are considering. This way, you may be able to avoid booking fees and avail of promos or discounts.
Understand the Terms of Your Rental Agreement
Before confirming your online reservation, make sure you have carefully read and understood all the provisions in the agreement. Check for small details like penalties for no shows, how long they will hold the car for you in case you can’t make it to the agreed pickup location on time for whatever reason, number of allowed drivers, support services in the area you are travelling to, drop off charges in case of one-way rentals, and others.
The Real Cost of Car Rentals
The actual rates you see may double once local and state taxes, and other charges that you will be made to shoulder are added up. So, make sure that the quotes you get already include everything and there will be no hidden charges to surprise you later on. Likewise, the published rates may have a validity date or may be available only during the off-season.
Most of the major booking engines today are more transparent in terms of rental rates and will gladly provide all the details that comprise the total cost of your car rental, including tax estimates and other expected costs even before you book a car. Some sites even guarantee that their estimates would not deviate from the actual rates by more than 1%.
Bear in mind that there are rental companies that operate like airlines where rates can change at any moment depending on car availability, and whatever rates are quoted, are valid only for the moment, unless reservation is made.
When Picking Up the Car
If you’ll be proceeding to the hotel from the airport to spend the night, you can save a day’s worth of car rental money by taking the shuttle service to the hotel instead of driving. You can also avoid paying for expensive airport surcharges by picking up the car at the rental office.
If you charge the rental to your major credit card or if you have your own personal auto insurance coverage, you may be covered for collision damage, at the very least. Thus, you wouldn’t have to buy the collision or loss damage waiver from the car rental company. To be sure, ask your card company or your insurance provider.
Carefully inspect the car for body damage before leaving the pickup station. Make sure that turn signals and lights are all in good working condition. Likewise, check the odometer reading. Report any damage or anything unusual immediately.
Get yourself acquainted with the car before you drive away with it. Learn how to use or turn on the headlights, turn signals, and windshield wipers, as well as which side of the car the gasoline tank is on. This may seem trivial, but it is actually important that you know the car’s model, make, and color so you wouldn’t lose it when you park on a busy parking area.
When Returning the Car
Beware of prepaid gas plans. Fill up the gas tank yourself before bringing back the car to the rental office so you will only be charged for the gasoline you actually used. Avoid filling up at the gas station near the airport if you’re dropping off the car at the airport as gas prices are usually very high there. You can check online for the lowest gas prices in the area.
It may seem illogical, but returning the car much earlier than the agreed time may actually cost you more money. Some companies charge an early return fee. In the same way, returning the car late will also cost you money. Most car rental companies only provide a 30-minute window before late charges start to accumulate.
Once you are at the drop off point, make sure that you have retrieved all your personal belongings from the car before leaving. A lot of customers unintentionally leave their sunglasses, cellular phones, and umbrellas in the car. Also check the trunk as you may have left some belongings there. Have the car rental attendant check the car for damages in your presence so you can agree about any damages. Finally, carefully examine the rental agreement for all billed charges and make sure that any unused deposit is returned to you or deposited to your account.