For many norev’s, rental cars are the least considered part of traveling. And then comes the last-minute sticker shock.
So how can you avoid that last-minute sticker shock?
Well here are some ideas:
- Rent from an off airport location and avoid the airport taxes which in some cities can almost double the cost of your rental. Many car rental companies have other locations around the city beyond the airport. If you are staying at a hotel near the hotel, you can take the hotel shuttle to get to your hotel. Then look for car rental agencies near that hotel. maybe in the hotel you are staying in. If your hotel does not have a car rental location but there is one nearby, you can normally get the hotel shuttle bus to take you there. Then set your rental up to return it to the airport which you can usually do for no additional fee.
- Make sure you return the car with the gas tank full unless you took the fuel option. Nothing like taking the car back and find the rental car company is going to charge you $4 a gallon to refill the car.
- Insurance – check to see if you have a credit card offers car rental insurance which will cover you. If not check your own auto insurance policy and see if it covers rental insurance. If either do then you can probably deny the car rental insurance offer. If you are traveling internationally, the car rental companies may still require you take their insurance but you can probably take the minimum if your credit card is going to also cover you.
- Returning the car early may not save you any money as the car rental company is going to calculate possible loss of revenue as they may not be able to rent the car for those extra days.
- Toll fees – Many toll roads don’t have a toll booth. So you drive a toll road without a toll tag. Months later the car rental company sends you a bill on the tolls that might also include late fees or processing fees. To prevent this, ask the rental car company if they have a toll tracker product that will cover your toll fees during the rental.
- Parking or traffic tickets are the driver’s responsibility. But if ever there were a financial incentive to driving carefully, it’s in a rental car, where ticket fees may come with a service charge from the rental company. Some of these fees can run you $50 or more per ticket and that is on top of the cost of the ticket!
- Double check before you take that “upgrade” from the rental car company and ask how much more the “upgrade” will cost you.
- Never assume any one car rental company will offer you the cheapest price or the smaller the car the cheaper the price. Prices vary by the hour in some cases. One time you might find small car to be the least expensive, the next time it might me an intermediate car.
- One way rentals often have an additional fee and in some cases a huge additional fee. But not always. Renting a car in Florida and driving it to a place like Michigan after Spring Break is over might have no drop fee. Same for driving from Phoenix to say Denver after baseball spring training is over. It’s a matter of how badly a rental car company needs to get their cars to other locations as it how cheap that drop fee might be.
- Never assume your airline code will get you the lowest cost. As about resident rates, military discounts (if you qualify), AAA discounts and then just ask if they have any other discounts that you might qualify for.