Having a car on your trip, whether for work or play, can be the key to freedom and flexibility. But choosing a rental car can be totally overwhelming (okay, it’s really stressful!). And when you’re on a budget and don’t have time to deal with all the ins and outs, there’s the added stress of getting ripped off or accumulating unwanted fees. It’s okay to admit that you need a little car rental advice. That’s why we’ve put together some of our 13 best car rental tips and tricks that will help you save time, money, and unwanted stress.
Book your rental car as early as possible. It gives you time to find the best rates and make any changes if needed.
Shop around for the best deals out there. Compare prices on a few rental company websites and even aggregator sites. You can also check out local rental companies. And definitely read the reviews, so you know what to expect and don’t get scammed.
Look for discounts
There’s always a deal out there. Check with your credit card company to see what offers they may have on things like rental insurance. See if any of the organizations you belong to, or memberships with places like AAA or Costco, offer discounts. Ask your boss if the company has a discount car rental rate. And look for seasonal deals or coupon codes online by searching the name of the company with words like “coupon” or “discount code.”
Rent away from the airport
Though it’s convenient to rent from the airport, take this little piece of rental car advice and look at rental offices closer into the city. Most companies charge way more for airport pickups. It won’t take much time to hitch a rideshare to the office and save on cash.
Ask all the questions
Understand the conditions of your reservation. Read the fine print in the contract if you’re booking online, or if that sounds grueling, drill the agent when you book over the phone. Are there restrictions on crossing state lines? What happens if you return the car a few minutes late? Can you change or cancel your reservation for free? You need answers to these questions so you don’t end up with surprise charges.
Look for hidden fees
If you’re wondering how to avoid drop off fees at car rentals or how to avoid mileage fees at car rentals, our best advice is to ask the questions. You may not be able to find all the answers online, so give the rental company a call before booking. These fees can add up fast and sneak up on you if you don’t know what you’re getting into.
Be careful with rental insurance
First, check to see if your personal car insurance or travel insurance covers rental. Your credit card may cover it too. If not, be wary of the rental car company’s insurance. You absolutely need to be insured, but the rental company’s insurance could easily double the cost of your rental fee, especially if you’re adding another driver into the mix. Instead, purchase insurance online through a car rental insurance agency. That way, you’ll know exactly how much you’re paying and you can confidently decline the pricey insurance add-on at the rental office.
Reserve a small vehicle
You may be tempted to rent that cool new SUV, but the bigger the car, the more it will cost you. And a bigger car usually means worse gas mileage, too. Rent the smaller vehicle and then, when you pick up your car, ask for a free upgrade and see what they can offer you. You never know!
Rent an eco-friendly vehicle
Check to see if the rental company has fuel efficient vehicles like hybrids or electric cars. You could save a ton of money on gas, and spend less time filling up on your trip. How’s that for some eco-friendly car rental advice?
Check your fuel
The rental company may give you the option to rent a car that’s already got a full tank of gas, or you can opt to fill it yourself. Check local gas prices on your phone when you arrive, and then make a decision. And when you return the car, make sure you’re fully aware of the fuel policy in case you need to refill right before returning the car. There’s nothing worse than getting to the rental car place and realizing you forgot to fill up.
Snap some pics
Before you drive that rental car off the property, heed our car rental advice: take photos. Some rental companies have a system in place that allows you to note scratches and dents before you drive off, so you don’t get blamed for damages you didn’t incur. But it’s a good idea to take pictures of all these imperfections just in case. You definitely want to get that security deposit back without a hitch.
It may sound obvious, but when you’re renting a car, be responsible. Put your phone away so you don’t get into an accident, keep the car clean, and return the vehicle on time. That way, you’ll stay safe and you won’t end up shelling out more money than you anticipated.
Try car sharing
It can be tricky to save time and money with a rental company. Our best car rental advice is pretty straightforward: borrow a car with Avail. Instead of wasting time on reading all the fine print and spending more money than you should, go with Avail and say hello to affordable car sharing with no red tape.
Every trip is protected by insurance coverage from Allstate and includes 24/7 roadside assistance for added peace of mind. Check out car sharing with Avail and save those extra hours and dollars you’ve been looking for.