Renting a car for business is always a bit confusing. Can a company rent a car for an employee? Who’s footing the bill? Will you be reimbursed for any fees or other incidentals? Do you go with a basic economy car or should you get something a little nicer to impress clients? What about insurance? You may have a lot of questions, and your company likely didn’t go over super specific rental car details during training.
It’s important to chat with your manager or someone in the people (HR) department who’s knowledgeable about travel protocol before you book. Otherwise, you might miss out on crucial discounts, loopholes or details while renting a car for business use. It’s not always complicated, though: Business car rentals can sometimes be pretty straightforward and easy, too. Here’s what to know.
1. Paying for a business car rental
The good thing about traveling for work is that you’ll almost never have to foot the bill when renting a car for business use (unless you try to sneak in a convertible upgrade). The downside is, company policies can be confusing and rental car companies may not be aware of them unless you’re employed by a massive company.
You might be asked to present your own credit card to cover any incidental charges. If you don’t have a company credit card, make sure to keep good track of your receipts so your company can reimburse you after the trip. It’s a temporary pain, but your company should be adamant and prompt about paying you back.
2. Car rental insurance for business trips
When renting a car for business, you should make sure you have insurance coverage, and preferably coverage offered by your employer. If you don’t have personal auto insurance, you might want to look into getting traveler’s insurance, which often includes coverage for rental cars. You should also check with your credit card company to see if your benefits include rental car coverage.
Finally, ask your company if they have a contract with a specific rental car company that includes insurance coverage. Many large corporations have long-standing relationships with big rental companies and have all the details ironed out, making car rental for business a smooth and fast process. Doing your due diligence can save you hundreds of dollars of unnecessary charges.
3. Inspecting business travel car rentals
Even though you may not be on the hook for the bill, it’s always a good idea to check for scratches, dents, nicks and any interior damage to the rental car. No one wants to be stuck in a hard spot if the rental car company is trying to charge your employer for damage and your employer thinks you’re the one responsible. We’re not trying to freak you out with ‘what-ifs’, but a quick once-over takes less than 5 minutes and gives you the peace of mind you need to drive confidently.
Your employer may never know or see that you do it, but having smooth business trips makes things easier for you, too. No one likes dealing with minutiae for weeks after you get back home. Business travel is hard enough as it is!
4. Alternatives to renting a car for business
If your company doesn’t have an established relationship with a big rental car company, you may score some points with them by exploring car rental alternatives like Avail. Borrowing a car through a car sharing company can save a lot of time and money. It’s almost exactly like renting a car, but the car is owned by a local person and not a large rental car company. Car sharing companies like Avail offer insurance coverage with every trip and have no additional fee for a second driver. We have convenient neighborhood locations around Chicago and Denver, all equipped with a self-service key box so you can grab the keys and drive off — no lines, no waiting. Returning the car is just as simple.