The average car rental is a process that should be given more than last minute attention while traveling. Unfortunately, many families (and business travelers) don’t do a few little things up front that could lead to a more stress-free rental car travel experience. As any frequent traveler knows, getting the right car rental at the beginning of the trip can certainly make for a much more enjoyable trip for everyone involved at the end. Below are 5 keys to a successful car rental that every traveler should keep in mind:
1. do some homework. As with any wise buying decision, even a little preparation can save dollars. For example, the wise and experienced traveler will ensure that their own car insurance is up to date and sufficient for their planned car rental needs. It is widely accepted that travelers do not need to take out the insurance offered by the rental company if their own coverage can adequately protect them. The only exception to this could be: lack of insurance because the renter does not have a personal car. In this case, the insurance from the higher priced rental company is better than none.
2. Understand your rental agreement. Wise Car Rental customers will make absolutely sure they understand the terms and requirements of any car or vehicle rental agreement. This is an important part of preparation for travel and car rentals, and should not be something that is looked at only when a problem arises. Some details that should always be confirmed include: 1) How many miles are allowed per day (experienced rental customers agree that unlimited mileage is best for most travelers), and 2) Is the customer required to fill up the gas tank when the car is returned? ? Rental companies usually offer a fuel option that allows the customer to prepay for a tank of gas. This means that the driver can return the car without filling up the tank. In most cases, it’s best to buy gas when needed, filling the tank just before returning the car.
3. Know what you are renting. While many travelers will actually consider insurance, mileage, and gas when renting a car, most won’t take the time to look at the physical condition of the car to check for dents, scratches, and other appearance issues. Customer feedback and customer complaints indicate that car rental companies sometimes try to blame the current renter for these problems. To avoid this difficulty, smart car rental customers will flag any problems before taking the car, making sure scratches, dents and upholstery issues are noted in writing by the company representative. Tip: Experienced renters use their digital cameras to document any problems before they leave.
4. Look for value but pay for happiness. The car rental industry has grown rapidly and now includes dozens of options. This level of competition has led to reduced prices, even from some of the big name companies. Of course, the best deal for the lowest price is everyone’s goal. However, experience in the field of car rental has taught many people that the lowest price is not always the key to happiness. (It’s always a good idea to pay special attention to the “however”). As the options increase, customers are tempted to choose lesser-known companies to save money. Many of these occasional renters assume that state and federal laws will protect them from any major problems. While it is generally true that “brand name” corporations and many smaller businesses will provide a quality and worry-free experience, issues can arise with some of the smaller startups. The smart lessee will be sure to clear up any questions about the terms and conditions of the car, especially with smaller fleet companies. The pressure to create and grow a business can lead some to take shortcuts. In the end, the client may have to pay for that pressure.
5. Highlight small details. There are a number of items in the fine print of rental agreements that can add to or subtract from the total cost that you ultimately end up paying. Two that need to be fully understood up front are: 1) Return Requirements – Is the original renter required to return the car to the same location? There may be a charge to return the vehicle to another location. 2) Will there be an additional charge if the driver is a minor? Companies may include a surcharge if the driver is under 25, for example. These are the most popular and can mean hidden charges at the end of your trip that you didn’t expect. Be sure to read the fine print and ask questions before you drive that rental car off the lot.
Vacations can be hectic enough without adding the stress of a bad rental car to the equation. Mistakes the average traveler makes when renting a car range from failing to plan before starting the trip, to doing little things during the rental process that end up costing you more money in the end. Savvy travelers can avoid these mistakes by following the five tips outlined above for a stress-free and successful car rental.