Things to Know when Renting a Car
How tough can this be? You need a car, so you rent one, simple as that. And maybe you are right, but there are some pitfalls that you should avoid when renting a car. In this article we will make a few suggestions that can save you time and money and we will point out those pesky charges that can catch you by surprise.
Are Car Rental Discounts available? And should I get that car rental insurance? Even the novice traveler is savvy enough to look for discounts on airfare or hotel rooms, but do we look for car rental discounts or is saving on transportation and after thought? BTG believes that every dollar saved is money that can be spent on souvenirs, right? So let’s answer some of the more common questions asked when standing at the rental car counter.
Shop Around for Car Rental
Car rental companies are not all built the same. We highly recommend that you seek out a company that suits your needs and your budget. Be aware of the potential fees that come along with renting a vehicle and some of the more costly mistakes made when choosing a vehicle.
Rental car companies will charge for anything from GPS service to satellite radio and from fuel to returning your car early. Your best strategy to avoid these charges is to become familiar with one company. Ask routinely what charges are possible and understand how to eliminate them. Switching from one company to another will require you to learn the pitfalls of each, so sticking with one will make life much easier.
Here are some of the charges you may (or may not) be able to avoid:
State and Local Taxes – This one is just a given, the federal, state and local are going to get their money. But we would be remiss if we didn’t include taxes as one of the charges you can expect.
Airport Conveinience Fee – Actually we shouldn’t call this a convenience fee, but that is what it amounts too. The airport knows that rental car companies want operate at the airport, so they charge for the luxury. And the rental car company passes that charge directly on to you the renter.
You can avoid this charge, but it will likely come with other costs and perhaps (as we mentioned) some inconvenience. So do your homework on this one and determine if the effort is worth the reward.
Refueling Charges – The refueling charge is just flat out avoidable. It just this simple, fill the tank before you return the vehicle. However, and I have underlined the word however, do not fill the tank any more than the level in which you received the vehicle. For example if you received the vehicle with one-half tank of gas, do not give the car rental company any more than that when you return the vehicle.
Under 25 driver fee – If you or any driving member of your party is under the age of 25, you can expect to pay more to rent a vehicle. This fee will vary from company to company and from state to state, but when applicable you can expect to pay an additional $25 to $60 per day to rent a vehicle.
The “underage” fee, as it is often called, is the result of the increased risk that insurnace comapnies assess to younger drivers. And of course the car rental compnay will pass this expense on to the consumer.
Should I Purchase Rental Car Insurance
Most of us probably have automobile insurance coverage for our personal vehicle. But I would venture to say that not many of us understand exactly what our coverage means. I recommend highly that you take some time and understand the insurance coverage that you are paying for, now with that said, if you are planning to rent a vehicle you will certainly want to ask how your current insurance pertains to renting a vehicle.
Before we continue much further lets cover a few key points; first to discuss insurance coverage thoroughly we would need to dedicate an entire post to the subject, so we will. Next there are three basic ways that insurance coverage protects you:
When others are impacted – This type of insurance is often called “liability” coverage. To explain this coverage in just a few words, let’s say that when your actions injure another person or damage property owned by another person, liability insurance may cover the costs.
When you are impacted (by an accident) – This type of insurance is often called “collision” coverage. So why did I specify “by an accident”? Because you may be impacted by incidents that are not an accident and we will discuss those next. Now back to collision coverage, when your actions result in injury to yourself or property that is owned (or possibly rented) by you, then collision coverage may cover the cost.
Collision insurance coverage will often involve a deductible. A deductible is an amount of money that will be your responsibility before the insurance coverage will become responsible. Typically the lower the deductible, the lower your monthly insurance premiums. You should know what deductible you have with your insurance.
When you are impacted (by something other than an accident) – When we think of auto insurance, we most often think of coverage for being involved in a collision of some type. However, auto insurance may cover events such as theft, vandalism, or acts of nature. This type of auto insurance is often called “Comprehensive” coverage. Comprehensive and collision are very often sold together, but they are distinctly different coverages.
Comprehensive auto insurance may be important when renting a vehicle. Keep in mind that you will driving, parking and leaving the vehicle in areas that you may not be familiar with. This fact will increase the risk of an incident and well… that’s what insurance is all about.
So why did we just give you an introductory lesson in automobile insurance? Because armed with this knowledge you will be capable of asking your current insurance company if it will protect you when renting a vehicle. And if it does not fully protect you, it will save you money the next time you rent a vehicle by not paying for unnecessary insurance coverage.
Please, Review you own Insurance Policy
Understanding your insurance coverage is a task that should be completed prior to actually needing the coverage. As an example, I once needed to replace my windshield due to a crack and called my insurance to find out that I had a $250 deductible for windshield replacement. Upon asking, I also found that for a few pennies more each month, I could have lowered the deductible for windshield replacement to $100.
Several key questions to ask when discussing your coverage with your insurance company are:
- Of course, Does my insurance cover me when I rent a vehicle?
- Am I receiving all of the discounts I am entitled too?
- Do I get a rental car if my car is damaged?
- What are my deductibles (all of my deductibles)?
- Do I have Roadside Assistance coverage?
- What are the requirements for submitting a claim?
Keep in mind that you pay for your insurance coverage and you will want to know these details in advance of an incident. The suggestion to understand your coverage’s also apply to other insurances such as, home owners, life and health insurance.
Know the Rental Companies Mileage Plan
Avoid high costs by paying attention to the kind of mileage plans available and make the right choice depending on your needs. Some companies provide unlimited mileage, so you can drive as many miles in the car as you need to without incurring extra fees. When a plan has a mileage cap, you’ll be charged a fee if you exceed it.
Choose The Right Fuel Replacement Option
Prepay – Paying a flat fee for a full tank of fuel at the outset lets you return the car with fuel at any level, but you don’t get a refund for unused gas.
Let the company refuel – This option lets you return the car with a less-than-full tank of gas, leaving it to the rental company to refuel. This is the most expensive choice, because the rental company will charge extra, sometimes as much as double what a gas station would cost.
Fill the tank yourself – Stop and fuel up the car at a gas station right before returning. You’ll pay a better rate than if you return it less than full.
Return The Car In On Time.
Most rental car companies will charge you an hourly fee if you are more than 30 minutes late in returning your rental.
Take a little extra time when renting a car and address these issues. Avoid the mistake of paying more than you need to.