When you travel a lot, rental cars become a necessity.
Renting a car becomes more evident for cities with inadequate public transportation systems. But not all rental cars are on equal footing when it comes to cost, service, and general reliability. Choosing one, therefore, becomes part of the travel planning.rental ca
With the plethora of rental car companies both in the U.S. and abroad, travelers would be hard-pressed to find the best one. Here are a few tips that can help you navigate the rental car minefield, so you get the most value out of your borrowed wheels.
How to Find the Cheapest Rental
Go online and do your research first before booking a car. As a rule, rental companies located inside the airport are more expensive. Look for a company outside the airport that has better rates, but factor the cost of getting out of the airport to pick up the rental vehicle. Choose a company that offers free shuttle rides from the airport.
Inspect the Vehicle Before Using It
Give the car a thorough inspection before driving off. Take pictures of any dents, scratches, and discoloration both on the interior and exterior of the vehicle. There are plenty of websites that offer free vin checks to know the car’s history, just to be safe. Don’t get a car that’s prone to accidents.
Requirements for Renting a Car
You need a valid driver’s license, a credit card, and insurance coverage. Although possible, it’s harder to rent a car without a credit card. The process will be longer, you’ll pay in cash, and there will be multiple checks to make sure you’re legit.
If you have insurance, it will generally cover car rentals, but it won’t hurt to check with your insurer. Most car rental companies offer protection as an added cost. If you already have coverage, you don’t need it. You can also check with the credit card company you used to book your ride if they offer car rental insurance. Before making the decision you need to check if your car has significant defects that are simply non-repairable. These cars are called lemon cars. A lemon car is unfixable, plain and simple. Even the best mechanics in the world won’t be able to fix a lemon, so be better informed about the lemon law.
Mind Where You Go
Don’t go nuts driving your rental vehicle off-road. You’ll pay for any damage the car sustains while you use it. Also, check whether you can drive the car out of state or to another country. There is the issue of returning the vehicle and the corresponding drop-off fees if you don’t take it back where you got it.
Clean the Car Before Returning It
Always make sure the car is clean before returning it, or you’ll pay a cleaning fee. Most companies allow pets as long as it’s in a crate, but any damage the animal does will be the owner’s responsibility.
Drivers Under 25 Years Old Pay More
Younger drivers tend to be more reckless. If you’re 25 years old and below, expect to pay a surcharge of $20 – $25 extra for renting a car.
Gas Up Before Heading Back
Don’t forget to fill up the tank before returning the rental car. Companies charge 3x more for fuel if they have to gas up the car themselves. Also, avoid pre-paying for gas.
Don’t Fall for Upgrades
Most rental companies will offer you either vehicle size upgrades or accessories like GPS systems. Don’t fall for these unless they provide it for free because these upgrades come at a cost. You’ll only need a bigger car if you’re more than five people with a lot of luggage. For GPS, you can always use your smartphone.
Remember, finding the “best” rental car company is subjective.
What does the best mean to you? To some people, this could mean being the most affordable rental. Others may look at the quality and diversity of the car selection. Most might consider companies with the best sales and customer service staff the best.
In a perfect world, you can have it all. In reality, don’t expect one company to have all these traits. If you can find an affordable car rental that has quality cars, for instance, you can go for it even if the staff have no customer service skills.