7 Hacks to Make Renting a Car So Much Easier

Renting a Car

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If you’re like most people, you find it frustrating to rent a car. It’s always so expensive. The website is unclear about what vehicle you’re actually getting. They tack on all these hidden fees.

While some of that is just part of the process, there are some easy travel hacks that will lessen the car rental headache.

#1 – Compare Prices Between Rental Companies

And no, that does not just mean on Priceline or Expedia.

Those aggregator sites are often promoting sponsored posts from the national chains. It’s worth looking at, but check the company websites for big players like Enterprise, Hertz, and Avis. They may have deals that are even better than what they’re advertising on the travel sites. It’s also well worth your time to look for local companies in whatever city you’re traveling to. Many smaller companies operate with less overhead, so, even though they have a smaller fleet, they can give you a better deal. Google “car rentals in [city]” and look beyond the first page.

Smaller companies can be just as easy to work with, too. Over the past few decades, we have watched the development of car rental apps and simplified processes for online booking. So, to make an informed decision, you will need to do a little digging. Depending on your budget and preferences, the rental car company you choose should have a decent selection of vehicles, exceptional customer service, and low rates.

#2 – Read Rental Company Reviews

This is especially important if you’re looking into smaller, local companies, but it matters for the big chains too. Sometimes a certain location of a rental chain has a horrible reputation. If you notice recurring themes of complaints about cars breaking down or slow roadside assistance, that could be an indicator that the company is not maintaining its fleet.

If possible, seek out reputable, third-party sites to gather information. Remember that reviews do tend to skew negative. In other words, people are more likely to hop online and rant if something went wrong than they are to detail a good experience. Don’t necessarily take it as a bad sign if a company only has a few reviews as long they’re mostly neutral or positive.

#3 – Bring Your Own Extras

Many companies charge extra for car seats, phone chargers, or other items that you might assume they have available to borrow. Save money by bringing your own. It’s also a good idea to set a reminder to take out everything you put in the car when you return it. Something like a charger is easy to forget.

#4 – Compare Insurance Options

insurance coverage for your rental car

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Choosing the right insurance coverage for your rental car can alleviate future headaches should any damage occur. With so many options, the best choice may not be immediately apparent. Are you asking yourself, do I need to purchase rental car insurance from the company? Why do I need more insurance when I have a policy? Will my credit card issuer cover my car rental? Each of these questions has its pros and cons.

Purchase Insurance from the Rental Company

The first option is to purchase insurance from the rental car company. The advantage of this is that it is usually the most convenient option and saves you from filing a claim with your insurance company. The downside is that it can be more expensive than other options and may not provide as much coverage as you would like.

Use Your Insurance Company

The second option is to use your car insurance policy. Most likely, you are familiar with your coverages and deductibles, and your coverage may be cheaper than the rates the rental company offers. However, if you have to file a claim with your insurance company, it could increase your rates down the road.

Check With Your Credit Card Issuer

The third option is to use the insurance coverage provided by your credit card issuer. The advantage of this is that it can save you money on your rental car insurance. The downside is it can be difficult to get claims approved, and some cards only provide limited coverage.

#5 – Reserve Your Rental Car in Advance

Reserving your rental car in advance is the best way to ensure you get the vehicle you want at a reasonable price. As you know, a vacation should be a time to relax and recharge, but often it turns into a stressful experience. One of the biggest causes of vacation stress is transportation—specifically renting a car. If you reserve your rental car in advance, you can lock in the costs at the current rates. So, if rates increase closer to your travel dates, you will not have to pay more for your rental car.

In addition, be flexible with your dates if possible. If you can maneuver your travel dates, you have a better chance of getting the rental car you want at the price you want. For example, rates tend to be higher during weekends and holidays, so if you can avoid traveling during those times, you will likely save money. Flexibility will also help to ensure you can select a vehicle that is well-suited for your needs. Regardless of your situation, if you wait to reserve your rental car until the last minute, you may pay much more than you originally calculated.

#6 – Inspect the Vehicle for Damage Before Leaving

It takes just a few minutes to walk around your car and check for any dents, scratches, or other signs of pre-existing issues to help avoid unexpected charges. Look for any dashboard warning lights, and check when the oil was last changed. If you notice any problems before you leave, it’s usually straightforward to switch to another vehicle. This is more of a hassle once you’re on the road. If you notice any damage, be sure to point it out to a representative from the rental car company and notate it on your contract.

While it’s not damage, also take note of the exact gas level. Most companies require you to return the car with the same amount of gas it started with, but you can save some money with careful eyes here. For instance, if the tank is only 3/4 full when you get the car, you can save money by not filling it all the way up when you return it.

#7 – Keep Track of Mileage To Avoid Excess Charges

Sometimes you can get a cheaper rental if you opt for one that doesn’t have unlimited mileage. But if that’s the case, pay attention to how far you’re driving. If your GPS gives you two routes with similar ETAs, choose the one that’s a shorter distance. Most economy cars have a standard mileage limit of 100 miles per day, while larger vehicles like SUVs may have a limit of 150 or 200 miles per day. If you are unsure how far you will be driving, err on the side of caution and ask about their excess mileage policy before booking. As you can see, renting a car does not have to be a stressful experience. With these hacks, you can make the process easier and less expensive. Enjoy your trip!

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