11 Ways to Save Money on Your Next Car Rental
When traveling, you may want or need to rent a car for ease of transport. Particularly when you are traveling with children or to a city without many public transportation options. However, you don’t have to pay a lot of money to do so. With these 11 tips, you’ll be prepared to “outwit” the rental companies and save money in the process.
You don’t have to settle for the first car rental place that you see, even if it is the most convenient. Instead, look up all of the rental companies in the area and compare their prices. This way you can rent from the one with the best price.
Book a Small, Simple Car
Larger vehicles cost more to rent, as do those with automatic transmissions. The same is true for luxury cars, such as BMWs. You might be tempted to live a little, and choose a car that you otherwise couldn’t afford, but if you truly want to save money, you’ll have to rent a small compact-style car.
Keep an Eye on the Gas Tank
The general rule of thumb is to return the car with just as much gas as it had in it when you picked it up. However, some car rental agencies have a sneaky fee that charges you for a full tank of gas, even if it only had a quarter of a tank upon renting it. Read this section of your contract thoroughly!
Don’t Pick Up Your Rental Car At the Airport
Did you know that there are special airport rental surcharges? There are – and almost every car rental agency charges them. Thankfully, this is easy to avoid, especially in major cities, where there are other places in the area to rent a car.
Know Your Insurance Options
You don’t have to automatically opt into the rental company’s insurance program. Your personal car insurance may cover your rental, and there are certain credit cards, particularly those geared to frequent travelers, that come with rental car insurance coverage. This can save you at least $11 or more a day on your rental costs.
Book Your Car As Soon As Possible
Rental car prices fluctuate just like those of airlines. The sooner you book your car, the less you’ll pay. If you wait until the last minute, you might find yourself paying exorbitant rates, or stuck without a car, if they’ve all been rented. Plus, if you book earlier, you’ll have more vehicles to choose from.
Ignore the Salesmen’s Attempts At Up-Selling
The sales agent’s goal is twofold – he wants to help you, but he also wants to make more money for his employer. Beware of upgraded options that sound good, but also cost more. Read the contract thoroughly before agreeing to it to make sure that those upgrades are truly gratis, because more than likely, they aren’t.
Join a Loyalty Program
If you have a preferred car rental company, make sure to join their loyalty program. You might end up earning special discounts and free upgrades over time, particularly if you rent from them often. This can save you money in the long run.
Always Read the Fine Print on Your Contract
Be on the lookout for hidden fees and charges, and be prepared to argue (politely, of course) should you be charged for one of them. For example, there might be an additional cost if you are as much as ten minutes late returning the car! This type of small, hidden fee can be easily avoided as long as you know that it exists.
Use a Website That Provides You with Many Rates at Once
There are websites that provide you with many hotel and airfare options – and ones for car rentals as well. With RentalCars.com, you can look up many different rates, all from the major car rental companies, such as Hertz, Alamo, Enterprise, and Avis. You can search by pick up and drop off location, as well as by date, and can book the rental that works best, right there on the website. I highly recommend utilizing it!