Overcharging is an issue customers face at Car Rental establishments all over the country. The rate you’re paying might look reasonable, but the bottom line can be shocking once you tally up the dollars and cents. Taxes and fees can be applied to virtually everything – from adding additional drivers and listening to satellite radio to refilling your gas tank.
Here are some tips you can use to help avoid the pitfalls of the fine print and save money on your next car rental.
Call your auto insurance agent to see if you’re covered for rentals. The biggest extra costs are Loss Damage waivers and the Collision Damage Waiver. You may, in fact – already be covered! That being said – Loss Damage is a bit more difficult to come by – so if you’re not covered, be sure to sign up for it with your rental company.
Try to stay away from airport rentals – Airport car rental companies have to pay convenience fees to their respective airports. As such, they pass on a substantial portion of that cost to the customer. Even worse? Airports can charge targeted taxes on rentals as well. Guess who pays? YOU! Getting away from the airport will cost you a few luxuries – like 24-hour service, mileage restrictions, etc- but if you’re OK living without that, you can save a lot of money.
Research local gas prices the day before you travel. Always compare those rates to that of the rental company. Note that the refill rate is for a full tank of gas, regardless of how much gas you actually use. You can save significant sums of money buying gas locally. Just be sure to fill up at a station close to the rental office. If you return the car with anything less than a full tank, you’ll pay for a full tank anyway and that can be double, if not triple over going market rates.
Don’t get caught up in extras – Child seats are law, so that’s one thing – but GPS, Satellite Radio and the like? They’re add-ons. Don’t get swallowed up by them. Think about how much time you’ll need to spend in the car and spend accordingly.
Return your car on time – Remember those nice hour-two hour grace periods? Thanks to the economy, most rental companies have eliminated them altogether. Some companies even charge extra hours as full day rates. If you know you’re running late – be sure to call the rental company and speak with your agent as to whether extending your rental an extra day is less expensive than paying the late fees.
Above all else – be sure to follow the conditions of your contract. Don’t let valets drive your car if they’re not covered. Don’t smoke in the car if it’s a non-smoking car. Don’t ever drink and drive. Stick to these rules, and you’ll save yourself a lot of money and get more out of your car rental.