If you’re planning a trip, renting a car gives you more freedom than public transportation. You can travel on your own schedule without worrying about buying tickets or packing into crowded buses and trains. What’s more, it can be a great way to get to out-of-the-way places that might otherwise be hard to access. Below, we go over a few points travelers should keep in mind to have the best experience.
Finding the Best Price
The major American car rental agencies have offices around the country and in many major cities and airports around the world. It’s possible to check the prices, fees, and available cars to get the best price. A number of flight pricing websites also allow you compare prices on local car rentals and book these at the same time as your flight. Rental prices are often higher if you book at an overseas agency office than if you book through the American office, so shop for better prices on their American websites. If you frequently need to rent a car, you can often get better deals by joining the agency’s loyalty membership program.
Insurance sounds like something you really need, but the rental agencies charge high fees for coverage. Fortunately, according to Car Rental Portugal, the good news is that your present car insurance policy may cover you whether you are driving your car or a rental. Check your policy in advance to make sure. Many credit card companies offer insurance coverage on rental cars. Of course, you must pay for the rental with a qualifying card. Simply having the card doesn’t mean you are covered. In some cases, travel insurance policies will include car insurance in their policies. These options should help you getting gouged with extra costs.
What to Avoid
The number one thing to avoid is surcharges. Rental agencies love to add these, and they can pile up the expenses quickly. Some charge extra if more than one person intends to drive the car, though they often waive this fee for loyalty program members. Many agencies limit your diving distance to a specified geographic area. Cars typically have GPS tracking devices installed, and some agencies use this data to determine where you’ve traveled, charging extra is you violate their limit. It is typical for rental agencies to limit your mileage, and then charge you extra if you go over this limit, so make a note of the mileage reading before you start. Agencies may allow you to pay for your fuel in advance. This should be avoided if possible as they charge more than local gas stations. For more information, the New York Times has an excellent guide to avoiding rental fees.
Don’t take chances about getting into a dispute about damage to the vehicle. Check the car before you drive off and make certain there is no damage that the company does not list on their information sheet. When you return the car, make certain someone checks it when you drop it off. Any damage they report will be billed to your credit card, and it’s your word against theirs as to whether or not the charge is justified.
Avoid missing out on discounts by joining an agency’s loyalty membership program, and then rent from that agency whenever possible. Another thing to avoid is getting a car that’s too big for your needs. Fuel costs take a big chunk out of travel budgets regardless of where you rent your car. The US Department of Energy offers a handy calculator with information on different car types that will help you to estimate how much fuel you will use.
Renting a car when you travel can be a headache or a great idea. It can be a daunting task for travelers, and the rental agencies don’t always make it easy or cheap. Follow these tips and put a little effort into planning your trip, and you and your family are sure to have a relaxing vacation.