There are some things that you should splurge on when you go on a trip. Dinner at a restaurant where your favorite celebrity is known to eat? Yes. A carriage ride through the park? Maybe, depending on your relationship status and the weather. A rental car? Not if you can help it. While renting a car may be a necessary part of your travel plans, it shouldn’t empty your wallet. Even if you think you have a good deal on the daily rate of your rental, there’s always the chance that you’ll get nailed with unexpected fees at the end of your trip, which may make you regret that pricey souvenir snow globe you bought. These tips will help you minimize the cost and shock of your next rental bill.
- Don’t get your car at the airport:
Many rental car agencies located at an airport are required (or just really love) to charge fees associated with the airport. Airports normally charge the rental company a percentage of each rented car, so the companies take it from you and then pay the airport. The rates vary based on the airport and rental company, but these fees can total 10% or more of the cost of your car rental. If you can pick up and drop off your rental at a location away from the airport, you could save some money. But think about whether the inconvenience and cost of transportation to the non-airport location would be worth saving the extra cash. The same kind of concession fee may also be applied if you arrange to pick up a rental car at your hotel.
- Check your insurance:
Your existing auto insurance might cover your rental, so buying the extra insurance that the rental company will try to push on you could be a waste of money. You might also receive coverage through your credit card if you use it to pay for the rental. Auto policies often have conditions when it comes to renting a car, so make sure you know what is covered on your personal policy before getting to the rental counter. The workers at rental companies aren’t required to know anything about your insurance or credit card, so they won’t be able to tell you what’s best for you. In fact, they’ll probably pressure you to buy their insurance regardless of what they know, so it’s in your best interest to find out before talking to them. Some possible holes in your personal coverage include business trips, international travel and long-term rentals.
- Know the age penalties:
Turning 21 has other perks besides the most celebrated one (you know, the one that you should never combine with driving, especially a rental car). For instance, many companies will allow you to rent a car at 21. The bad news is that most of those same companies will tack on daily surcharges if you’re under 25. The insurance will likely be higher for under-25-ers, as well. If possible, have someone 25 or older rent the car and don’t add anyone under 25 as an additional driver (additional drivers normally cost extra, anyway). If you’re under 25 and have to rent a car, make sure to shop around for the best rates for your age group. Consider the base rates, whether you’ll be purchasing insurance and the surcharges that might come with being young.
- Know how much mileage you’re allowed:
Unlimited mileage is a fairly common allowance these days, but many smaller companies may give you a free daily amount of miles and charge you for each mile over the limit. Depending on the company, you could pay 15 cents or 50 cents per mile, which could add up to a big surprise when you pay the bill. If you’re planning a long drive, you could be better off going with a major rental company with a higher base rate but unlimited mileage. Another time to double-check mileage allowances is if you’re about to use a special offer. Some special offers don’t include unlimited mileage, even if the company’s normal rentals do.
- Reserve in advance:
Just like airlines and hotels, car rental agencies tend to use a strategy where they charge more money as inventory decreases, so if you wait until the day or two before your trip to find a rental car, you’ll likely pay for it. You should book at least a week in advance, and if you’re smart, you’ll do it as soon as you make firm travel plans in order to get the best deals. Not only do you have the benefit of shopping around, some agencies offer discounts if you pay in advance on their sites. When reserving a car, it’s sometimes a good idea to choose the cheapest option, especially at smaller facilities, because there’s a good chance you’ll get a free upgrade. Agencies often overbook cars, so when they run out of the lower priced cars, they are obligated to provide a free upgrade. If you’re picky and the company has the cheap car you reserved, you should be able to pay an upgrade fee at the counter for the nicer car you were hoping for.
- Fill up the tank:
There’s no doubt that gas prices are high, but if you return your rental car without filling it back up, you could be paying the rental agency $9 per gallon for them to fill it. Most companies will let you pay ahead for gas and will provide you with a full tank that you don’t have to refill. Depending on the location, this could cost you more or less than what you would pay for a tank of gas at the average gas station in the area. The catch with this service is that you pay for the full tank, whether you use all of it, half of it or barely any. If you know you won’t be using a full tank of gas on your trip, your best bet is to choose to not pay ahead and remember to make a stop by a gas station before dropping your car off.
- Don’t return your car late:
This may seem like a no-brainer, but a little slip-up with your time management may cost you. Rental companies have a limited number of vehicles to rent out at any given time, so they may need yours back to inspect and give to another customer within a small time frame. Because of this, agencies charge steep hourly late fees. It’s important to know what the rental agency considers to be a "day." Many companies use 24-hour-day pricing; if you picked up your car at noon Wednesday, you would have to return it before noon on Thursday to avoid being charged. Some offer a 59-minute grace period after the return time stated on your contract, but you won’t always be so lucky. You may have the option to pay for an extra day if you’re late enough that the hourly charge would cost you more, but either way, you’re not going to leave happy.
- Don’t return your car too early:
In terms of car rentals, you might think that returning a car a couple of days early would give the company the opportunity to rent it out again, but that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, getting your car back on the lot early could end up doubling your rental bill. Not only could you pay a fee for each day you were supposed to have the car but didn’t, your entire rate could be recalculated. If you had a weekly rate, which is typically lower than what you would pay with a daily rate, but you return the car before the full week is over, you could be charged the daily rates instead. Or it could be treated as a different reservation and you may be charged the same amount as a walk-up who hadn’t reserved a car. Read your contract carefully to make sure you know if there are any penalties for returning the car too soon.
- Pick a driver:
You and your road-trip buddy may both be excellent drivers, but taking turns at the wheel could be a financial mistake. Many rental companies make you pay a daily fee for each additional person you want to authorize to drive the car. The fees and exact policies differ between states, companies, and even offices in some cases. Many companies will allow spouses to be an additional driver for free; some will also allow business associates to sign on at no charge. You may even find some more lenient agencies that will allow significant others or life companions to drive. The only way to know for certain who can drive for free is to ask ahead of time and read the contract carefully. Those who are left out can always be the ever-helpful backseat drivers.
- Bring your own child safety seat:
Having kids is expensive. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise, but you should figure this annoying fact into renting a car when you’ve got your children in tow. Car rental agencies will require you to have a child safety seat if it’s mandatory by law in the state or country where you are renting the car. The rental agency will have seats available for you, but these can cost $10 or $15 a day to rent. And many companies don’t offer weekly or maximum rates, so you could be stuck paying the pricey daily rate for the length of your rental. If you already have a safety seat for your child at home, you’d save some money by bringing it along. Rental companies don’t generally install the seats for you in order to avoid liability, so renting is no more convenient in that sense. Though it may be more trouble to take the seat with you on your trip, it’s probably easier to carry than a squirming kid, and you’re used to that.
Taken From Online Degrees Hub