Renting a car is often essential for many travelers. While it’s perfectly possible to enjoy many sights on foot or via taxi, you’ll be able to explore much more of an unfamiliar state or country if you have your own transportation. Even if you have your own car, you may not want to drive it long distances, especially if it already has a good amount of miles on the odometer.
The act of renting a car is easy enough, but each rental car company will have different rules and stipulations attached when borrowing one of its vehicles. To save yourself a lot of hassle later on, be aware of some of the mistakes that many first-time car renters make.
Not doing your research before renting a car
Not all car rental places are going to have the same prices, so it’s best to compare a few different rental companies before you make a decision. You can do this with booking sites online, such as Priceline or Autoslash. Another benefit of using car rental comparison sites is being able to find discount codes that you can use toward your rental.
Renting from an airport
In your eagerness to start your vacation as soon as the plane lands, renting a car at the airport seems like the most convenient option. However, renting a car from the airport will most likely cost more money. This is because of additional fees, such as taxes and airport surcharges. In this case, it pays to be patient and find a car rental place that is very close to the airport.
Getting extra insurance
Many car rental companies will push for you to purchase additional coverage in the event of an accident. While each insurance policy is different, it’s very likely that your auto insurance already covers rental cars.
Additionally, if you book with a credit card, you may be eligible for additional coverage under the credit card’s policy that will pay for damages that your personal insurance can’t cover.
Not joining the rental club
If you’re a frequent traveler, it may be worth it to get a club membership with a rental company. While higher tiers of membership may require an annual fee, a free membership will often still give you perks such as discounted rentals. Being a club member also means you can rack up points towards free rentals or upgrades.
Paying for extra services
You may need a few extra accessories for your rental car, such as a car seat or a GPS. Getting these from the rental company can cost more than $10 per day.
If you don’t want to pay for your own GPS, it’s best to just use your phone for the duration of your trip. A car seat is much less convenient to carry around, but many airlines allow you to check one onto the plane at no extra charge.
Not inspecting the vehicle
If your rental car has any pre-existing scratches or dents, there’s always the possibility that you may be charged for it. You should always take a few extra minutes to inspect the car before pulling out of the rental lot. For additional evidence, take pictures on your phone that will be timestamped or have an employee of the rental company inspect the vehicle with you.
Prepaying for gas
It’s very common for car rental companies to offer a full tank on your rental car for an extra fee. While this is convenient, you may be able to find other places nearby with cheaper gas prices than the rate offered by the rental company. However, you should never forget to return the car with a full tank of gas, or else you’ll have to pay some big fees.