Top 10 Car Rental Tips -- Edmunds.com
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Top 10 Car Rental Tips


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Remember when people rented cars mainly for the purpose of vacation transportation? These days, things have changed. The car rental industry has grown by leaps and bounds; the most current estimates available (for 2008) put annual car rental revenue at a whopping $21.9 billion. Airport rentals have historically been the main revenue driver, but that segment has remained virtually flat over the past decade and a half; the industry's growth is due almost entirely to the explosion of the "home-city" rental market — renting from a neighborhood location.

Those renting from neighborhood locations do so for a host of reasons. Some need an extra-large truck for that move across town. Some need a comfy hauler for a cross-country family road trip or a weekend of furniture shopping. And others crave a glamorous high-end cruiser for a fun-filled night out.

Whether you're an airport renter or a home-city renter, we've got a list of tips designed to help make your car-rental experience as pain-free as possible for your bank account.

  1. Surf the Net

    1. Surf the Net.

    As is the case with many purchases, you'll usually find the best rates on the Internet. Shop around. Buying online will afford you the luxury of seeing what rates look like on any vehicle your heart desires, without the inconvenience of having a salesperson breathing down your neck. Also, many companies offer special discounts to people who rent online. Rates will obviously vary from company to company, depending on vehicle availability, location and other factors. But rates aren't the only variable to consider. Consider hours of operation, for example; some companies may close earlier on weekends. Depending on your schedule, this might be a crucial issue for you.

  2. 2. Go weekend.

    Rates are typically cheaper on weekends. At one company we surveyed, you could rent a subcompact on a weekday for $64.99. When we opted for a weekend rental, the figure plummeted to a far more reasonable $22.99. If you've got some flexibility with your rental arrangements, opt for weekend rental. Your pocketbook will be eternally grateful.

  3. 3. Weekly does it.

    Weekend rates are great, but weekly rates are usually the best of all. At one company we surveyed, a subcompact went for a weekday rate of $56.99. That same car could be rented on a weekly basis for just $252.99, a savings of more than 30 percent if you used the vehicle for all seven days, and more than 10 percent if you returned it after five days. If you plan on using the vehicle for five days or more, choose the weekly rate.

  4. Think twice about insurance

    4. Think twice about insurance.

    When renting a car, you'll be offered a collision damage waiver (CDW) and a loss damage waiver (LDW). The first covers you in the event of a collision, while the second covers any loss to the rental company. Both kinds of coverage are a good idea, but not if they duplicate coverage already included in your own insurance policy. Most insurance policies offer liability coverage to protect you if you injure someone in an accident; some also cover rental-car damage via comprehensive and collision coverage. Check your policy or call your insurance agent to verify coverage before signing up for a vehicle. If you're renting the car with a credit card, your card provider may pay for vehicle damages associated with an accident. Check with your card company ahead of time to make sure.

    There's one caveat. The collision damage waiver covers "loss of use," the charge levied by the rental car company to cover its lost income when the vehicle is out of service. In most states, auto insurance policies don't cover this loss, so if you have an accident, you may wind up having to pay this charge out of your own pocket. As such, getting the collision damage waiver may be a good idea.

  5. 5. Book early.

    It's not just a cliché; the early bird really does get the worm, and he usually gets it much cheaper than everyone else. Rates depend on how many vehicles the company has on the lot at the time the rental is made, so sooner is better. Reserve your car at least a week in advance.

  6. Think twice about prepaid gas

    6. Think twice about prepaid gas.

    Typically, renters have two choices when it comes to fuel: You can pay for a full tank of gas in advance and bring the vehicle back empty (or less than full), or you can opt to refuel it yourself just before returning it. Rental car companies suggest that paying in advance will add convenience and that the low rates offered will save you money. Well, they're right on the first part but wrong on the second. Paying in advance is an added convenience; if you want to save yourself the hassle of a trip to the gas station or avoid a last-minute rush when you're trying to make a plane, pay away. But unless you plan on using the entire tank of gas, prepaying will cause you to pay for more fuel than you've actually consumed. From a financial standpoint, prepaying is a bad idea unless you're absolutely certain that you'll use the full tank.

  7. Be careful of upgrades to larger vehicles

    7. Be careful of upgrades to larger vehicles.

    Sometimes, rental car companies will offer free upgrades to larger vehicles. They do this mainly because compacts tend to be in high demand. This sort of upgrade may seem like a great deal for you, the renter. If having a larger vehicle will genuinely enhance your rental experience, then take the upgrade. But if you have no real need for the extra space, it's cheaper to decline. Larger vehicles burn more gas, so that "free" upgrade isn't really free — you'll wind up paying for it at the pump.

  8. 8. Steer clear of airport pickups.

    Picking up a rental car at the airport can be more expensive due to taxes and fees. Try looking at nearby neighborhood locations to save money. A recent Travelocity study showed that renting at an airport costs more than 11.5 percent more on average than renting at a neighborhood location. Texas airports were the chief offenders, but airports in states like Arizona, Ohio, Maryland, Missouri and New Mexico also cost renters more in taxes and fees.

  9. Got kids? Seat 'em yourself

    9. Got kids? Seat 'em yourself.

    If you're traveling with a little one, you can save yourself some coin by bringing your own child safety seat. One rental company we surveyed charged almost $10 per day for child safety seat rental. Obviously, this can tack a significant amount onto your car rental expenses, so if you're able to, bring your own child safety seat. If you're renting a minivan, though, know that some rental minivans include integrated child safety seats at no extra cost.

  10. Join the club

    10. Join the club.

    Many of the larger companies offer club membership in which members pay a yearly fee in exchange for certain perks and privileges. These clubs can save you money with benefits like free rental days and airline miles, but you'll likely only see savings if you're a frequent renter. If you fall into this category and use rental vehicles more than occasionally, go clubbing.

For more tips regarding car rental, be sure to check out Tips for Hassle-Free Car Rental and Rent To Know: Using Car Rentals to Compare Cars.

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Comments

  • websteph websteph Posts:

    Great tips! Will def consider them next time I'm renting a car. Although I personally do like getting cars at the airport, the convenience is worth the extra money. I like being able to pack up my bags from the airport into my new ride that I will be driving for the next "X" amount of days. One of my fave online car rental companies is: http://www.e-zrentacar.com/.

  • limousine1 limousine1 Posts:

    Nice tips share with me. next time I will travailing in out or airport then i will contact with you, but How cost online car rental service. one of my know Cheap Limo Service his service well. all right your feedback continue .

  • alinds alinds Posts:

    Very Nice Tips, I have Car Rental Service In Jogjakarta Indonesia. Its very usefull tips .All what you say is really exellence to help the people who wants to get car rental service http://www.sewamobiljogja.info

  • sandeeps sandeeps Posts:

    Apart from these points, you might want to check special offers and discounts well in advance, cause a lot of firms offers very good discounts on online bookings. So it is advised that go through Special Offers on the website on particular website. PS: Here is the link to Hertz Special Offers : http://www.hertz.qa/rentacar/specialoffers/index.jsp?targetPage=specialOffersPerCategoryView.jsp

  • marcusday marcusday Posts:

    I always use MoreRentalCars.com to find the best deals in Car Hire. Their page is loaded with new deals daily. Go to: http://www.morerentalcars.com

  • this topic is hintful to everyone. this could be car rental airport you should book before going to a certain place to avoid hassles.

  • nellyn nellyn Posts:

    I have used http://www.carrentalsnet.com/ . They have great deals for one way car rental and all the apps you need for car rental on mobile devices.

  • lwh33 lwh33 Posts:

    I rented a van from Budget Rent-A-Car in New Orleans, LA area that was located at Sears’ department store in a shopping center in Metairie, LA. I had no problem making the reservation or picking up the van. The young woman who was working by herself on the afternoon of 1-18-14 was very nice and helpful, she also have very good customer severs skills. The issue that I feel needs to be addressed is the man that was working by himself on the afternoon of 1-19-14 was very rude and disrespectful. We arrived a little late (15-20 min) due to getting lost but we was in the office about 10 min before he stopped talking on his cell phone and told us I will be with you in a few, I just need to enter this in the system if that is okay with you all. We stated yes, by the time he helped us, put our information in the system the car was late, and charged a late fee of $67.56. We try to discuss with him the charges and he stated, “I do not have time, I have a family at home, and you all need come back on Monday or call the 800 number because his job is not to discuss charges on a Sat. afternoon”. We told him that we would not be in town and tried to ask him a few questions. He would not listen to us, he cut us off as we were asking questing and was starting to become irate and stated that we needed to go because he had to go or he would have to call 911. We did not want to cause any problems we had a few questions, we did exit and called customer service. During our call with customer serves, we talked with one of reps and she told us that she was not able to credit the charges and she put us on hold and transferred us to her supervisor. Her supervise was not willing to credit the late charges and told us that next time we should be 15-30 min earlier then the time it is due back to avoid the charges. I call my credit card and they asked that try one more time before entering a clam. I call today 3-6-14 talked with a very nice rep who was not able to apply the credit but transferred me to her supervisor Dona who was very nice. She was willing to discuss the charges. She was not willing to credit us any parts of charges unit I stated that “ 67.56 was a lot for an hour and that it would not have not been late if the employee had got off the his cell phone and entered our information into the system and I asked should I have pay for that.” Dona told that she could credit me for 50% that would be 33.31 and asked if I wanted the credit. I asked if she could credit the total and she stated no that was the best she could do. Thanks for all your help Dona!!! I have to pay 33.31 late fees for an employee to talk on his cell phone and enter other information into the system that is my information. I am not happy with this but due to time (time=money) I am going to let it go and take the lost. It has already cost more in time, which is also money vs. what I have to pay. It is not so much about the cost, as it is the principle that a company would allow this and not having this happen to the next person.

  • mcjull mcjull Posts:

    Very useful tips. Thank you. But there are plenty of sites and even app on phones through which you can rent a car anywhere in the country. Here is an example http://www.carrentalsmarket.com/iphone

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