Car Rental Questions and We Have The Answers
Car rental questions are everywhere!! We have all rented a car and consider ourselves pretty savvy with this small task of vacation planning. But, if you’re like most people, you’ve asked a question or two about car rentals and the answers are not always so easy.
Let’s take a look at a couple of considerations when renting a car.
1. Should I buy insurance if I have insurance on my personal car?
- This is probably where you’ll find the most car rental questions. If you have your own auto insurance policy, it may cover collision damage and personal liability while using a rental car
- Check and see if your credit card(s) have an option for insurance. If so use that card to reserve the car rental. Many credit cards will provide a secondary collision coverage which can be used to cover deductible and may provide secondary collision coverage. Check on this before you rent the car and use that card
- “The credit card coverage will kick in for anything your personal policy doesn’t cover, and you don’t need to pay your deductible,” says Brian Karimzad, the director of MileCards.com, a travel rewards card comparison website.
- If you are concerned about your personal insurance rates increasing because of small, or large, damage to your rental car, it is best to purchase the insurance company’s policy.
- Remember damage includes things like dings and dents while parked at the tourist attractions and sites. Other drivers in their rental cars may not be as cautious when opening doors.
- It’s a good idea to have a talk with your personal insurance company before you start planning your vacation. They can answer questions about your specific policy. Don’t go on what a friend has done or how their insurance policy works. Research and check your own policy to be sure you have everything covered and you understand what is and is not covered when renting a car.
- In addition to having a conversation with your insurance agent, I would follow up with an email to having the points in writing…. just in case.
2. Is it cheaper to rent at the airport or a location in the city
- There are surcharges and fees associated with renting at the airport. Most of us do not realize this until we are at the counter, signing the rental agreement.
- You can avoid the additional charges by renting from a car rental office near your hotel or in town.
- To avoid the costs of taxis or Uber, there may be shuttle service to off-airport locations or your hotel may offer a shuttle to the hotel.
- When choosing a hotel, ask if there is a car rental office on-site or nearby
- Ask the car rental company if they have an option for car delivery to your hotel
- Another reason to opt for off-airport rental is less crowds
3. I found a great rate and made a reservation. Should I have shopped around?
- Rates for car rentals can vary from brand to brand. Most times you will benefit from shopping around instead of quickly booking what appears to be a “cheap rate”.
- There are websites such as CarRentalSavers.com and AutoSlash.com where you can compare rates and cars and while you’re at it, see if there are any coupons on their sites too.
- AutoSlash.com tracks your rental rates and will rebook your reservation if the rate drops.
- Are you members of any organizations or companies such as AARP, AAA or credit unions. Check for deals offered especially for their members.
4. Should I worry about milage?
- Does your trip including driving long distances? If so, double check for any milage caps. Especially if your rental is part of a special deal.
- Most rentals include unlimited milage, but it is a good idea to always double check.
- It’s especially important to check for this if you are renting over a long period of time.
5. I’m always rushing to the airport for my flight home. It’s easier to pre-pay for my gasoline. Is that the right thing to do?
- Prepaying is offered as a convenience for you; to save you time when returning to the airport. And, I must admit I have been rushing to the airport and realize I need to stop and gas-up with little time for a stop at the gas station. I’m wishing that I would have taken that option because if I return the car and it is not full, the rate is much higher than pre-pay. But, each time I have stopped and refueled myself.
- Pre-pay is for a full tank of gas and you will probably not need a full tank.
- It’s better to fill up yourself the day or evening prior to heading home. Plan time to refuel and save the money.
- Many times the pre-pay amount is more than the per-gallon amounts you’ll find at stations in the city.
- For less expensive options, choose a fuel station away from inter-states, the airport and major highway intersections. Neighborhood stations tend to be less expensive.
6. During the car inspection, I just check for dents and scratches. That’s enough, right?
- No rushing through this process. Take your time to look over the exterior of the car. Look for dents, scratches, and smudges which look as though rubber has been scrapped across the car. Each of these can be considered damage done by you when returning the car.
- Complete a thorough inspection with the agent when possible. If the agent is not available to go over the car with you, check in with an agent once you have completed the inspection. Point out any areas of concern. And, do so before getting in the car and driving away. Before leaving, take photos of any large damage; include both the exterior and interior of the car.
- Check the interior of the car for spills, stains, cigarette burns or tears. Point out any excessive wear on the seat covers and have that noted on the rental agreement. The car interior is one of the most overlooked areas of the car inspection. Your rental car agent may suggest that it’s not necessary, but take your time to look over the car inside/outside. This is especially true if you are not purchasing their insurance.
- Remember no ding, dent or scratch is too small to mention. When you return the car, small dings and dents do count.
7. I rent from all different rental companies. I like to try them all. Is that good idea?
- I am a big fan of brand loyalty. There are amenities galore for booking and renting with the same company.
- Many brands will offer special discounts, upgrades and special lines to move your ahead at the check-in counter
- Budget should always trump everything else. On vacation you want to get the most for your money and sometimes that will mean going outside of your favorite brand for a really good deal.
- If you find a better deal ask your favorite rental brand if they will match the deal. Doesn’t hurt to ask. The brands like to keep you loyal.
8. No need to pay attention to the times on the rental agreement. I’ll just return the car when I can. That’s ok, right?
- Car rental rates are based on a 24-hour period. When making your reservation consider when you arrive and when you will leave and keep in mind the 24-hour rental rates.
- Many car rental companies will allow a grace period, but you can’t bet on that. That grace period is not very long.
- An extra hour or two could be expensive. To avoid a penalty, plan ahead and make sure you are staying close to your the 24-hour rental period
9. I’ve rented cars before and noticed fees listed that I’m not aware of. Do I have an option to pay these fees?
- Fees are not negotiable. However, you can save money by selecting rental offices off-airport.
- Ask for clarification of any fees you see on your rental agreement. You should understand exactly what you are being charged and why. Don’t hesitate to ask. Most people just sign and go.
10. I need to cancel my reservation. That should not be a problem, right?
- Most car rental companies will charge a fee for any cancellation within a certain period. The time frame could be 72 hours to 24 hours prior to your arrival.
- Notify the company via their website or telephone as soon as you know you must cancel.
11. Do I need to rent a GPS or child seat?
- There is no need to rent a GPS if you have a smart phone, download apps which not only provide directions but also traffic and weather conditions.
- If you use a GPS at home, bring it along with you to avoid the daily GPS rental fee charged by the car rental company.
- Traveling by air you can bring along your child seat from home. Although it may add a bit more organizing and logistics, you can check it at the gate and have it ready for the car when you arrive. It’s another way to save money.
12. Are there any other surprises I should think about
- Yes! Keep speed within the local limits. Any speeding tickets during the time of your rental will be charged back to you. They can be pricey.
- This also include parking tickets, road toll fees and any special lane travel. There is no way to skip out on these fees. They will follow you. The car rental company has the drivers license, address and phone number of the renter.
- Before heading to your destination, research the local road rules and laws.
- For road trips research where the road tolls are located and pay-as-you-go for tolls to make sure you cover them all.
- If you do not purchase road emergency service, you’ll be out-of-pocket for any roadside emergencies. Bring along your AAA card or other roadside membership you may have to help if you’re stuck on the side of the road.
More questions about road safety? Take a look at AAA.com for great tips.