Convenience is the name of the game, even on traveling in a foreign land. While some travelers opt the more adventurous route by exploring the neighborhood on foot, most could not afford that luxury. Thus, they would rather rent a car to navigate the roads, or simply to get from point A to point B.
Car rental agencies have customers ranging from wealthy businesspeople flying solo to families who have babies or small kiddos in tow. By renting a car, they can decrease the inconveniences of having to lug around their excess baggage.
Here are the things to know before you avail of the car rental service:
You can scrimp on as many aspects of the whole process without jeopardizing the entire trip. From the reservation, refueling, off-airport pickup, to the number of drivers, you can avoid the additional costs car rental may incur on your trip expenses.
For one, reservation is free—unless the car rental agency employs a down payment scheme. In which case, they cannot return your money once you cancel.
Some agencies charge as much as $8 if you want to have a full tank as soon as you get it, even though the current fuel price range of around $2-$4 depending on the state. Refueling the car yourself would be a far cheaper option; just research on the gas stations nearest your pickup locations.
Speaking of pickup, opting to do the transaction off the airport grounds is also a cheaper alternative. Agencies, whether car rental, taxi hailing, or any food establishments, pay exorbitant fees just to operate at the airport. When you do an off-airport pickup, that fee would be shouldered mostly by you. To avoid incurring more, hail a taxi to bring you to the pickup point or take a walk if it is only a couple of blocks away from the exit.
Number of Drivers
Finally, the number of drivers is necessary for the agency to know, especially if the one holding the wheel is someone below 25 years old. This may sound biased, but teenagers are most likely to be involved in a car accident than any other age group. Aside from that, having more than one person responsible for driving would mean double the possibility of incurring damages. Bottom line, have at most two adults behind the wheel alternating between long road trips.
A credit card is the best (and usually only) way to go.
If you want to avoid the hassle of the car rental company poking around your finances to see if you can pay them, have this rectangular plastic ready. And do not fret, because paying via credit card works in your favor as well. Most of these companies provide auto insurances usually not covered by your car insurance (if you already have one).
If you do not have one yet, ask your favored insurance company about it and avail for one at least a week before the car rental period. After choosing your auto insurance package, let the credit card company cover the rest of it. Having your auto insurance instead of purchasing it in-store is another way to cut back on charges.
Make sure to read the car rental agreement terms.
Yes, reading for some may not be a fun activity, but knowing the boundaries of your freedom to use the vehicle lets you enjoy the benefits of it without crossing any lines. It is in the terms that you can see whether the car you are renting is allowed to be taken on off-paved roads, what damage is considered “damaged” by the company, how much are the penalty fees when you return the car too early or too late, among others. Knowing your boundaries requires you to be extra careful when handling their property.
Always, ALWAYS have the car rental agent before and after accepting the car keys.
Before skipping around with the car keys in tow, make sure that the car rental agency would bring an agent that would ensure that the transaction goes smoothly. Have the agent check the car beforehand—the exterior finishes, the interiors, the engine, and odometers—before accepting the car to avoid incurring damage fees that are not actually your fault.
To double the security, take pictures during the inspection so that when the time comes that it is your word against theirs, you have proof of what commenced.
It never hurts to ask.
Finally, asking is not a crime especially if it is not stated in the agreement terms. After all, your money and your trip are at stake here. It also helps you in preparing beforehand. For example, do they have GPS installed on their vehicles? Are you allowed to take it across different states or countries? As previously mentioned, knowing these things help you to handle the car with care.
Car rentals need not be as stressful as your work, life, and other stuff that you are taking a vacation from. By knowing what works and what are the things you can do to save both money and your time, your holiday may not become so bad after all.