The first time I ever booked a car rental was back in 2014 when we (a bunch of school friends) went on a group trip to the Magic Kingdom in Orlando. I remember that I made all the rookie mistakes that I could have possibly made through out the process of dealing with a rental car. However, after discussing my seemingly stupid mistakes with my friends and also having gone through this process many a times now, I have discovered that we all can benefit financially by simply following the five tips below :
You absolutely need the rental car insruance!
Whether you have car insurance or not, rental car insurance is a must. At a cost of about $11-$33 per day, you are getting covered against most of the unforeseen and unfortunate situations the probability of which isn’t low in US, even on the wide roads of Texas. You can either learn from other’s mistakes and get the rental car insurance or learn the hard way from your own. The problem with the latter option is that you should be habitual of throwing away money just for the sake of getting a bad experience. If that’s you then don’t get the insurance!
Pick up the car from a location other than the airport.
Picking up vehicles from the car rental services at the airport might be convenient, but is never the most economical option. You end up paying almost $50-$100 in airport taxes. You can avoid this extra cost if you decide to pick up the vehicle from a location close by to the airport or your hotel. Most of the car rental agencies at the airport arrange for shuttles to transport you to these nearby locations for free. You can still return the vehicle at the airport though!
Make your bookings atleast a week in advance!
Most of us are in a habit of booking our flights well in advance, unless its an unplanned visit or an emergency situation. However, its not the same case with the car rentals. Flight booking sites are partly to be blamed for not integrating car rental options with the flight options, but things are changing with Southwest and Delta airlines trying to fix that. With on-spot booking of a rental vehicle you not only waste a lot of time by standing in long queues, but you also end up paying 2-5 times more than what you would have paid for a booking done over a week in advance.
Do not leave your stuff behind when returning the car!
If you’re anything like me, you have an extra phone charger, water bottle, jacket, cap and a pair of sun glasses that always stay in your car. For a well trained human mind its easy to forget all such stuff in the rental car when returning it. Make a habit of not leaving any of your stuff behind in the rental before getting out of the parking lot. What happens if you leave behind your personal items in the rental vehicle, for example, a mobile phone? The rental car agencies have a lost and found section. If you are as lucky as I was, your phone will be shipped back to you in about 2 weeks. But, do you want to rely on luck?
Check for all sorts of discounts available to you!
There are many ways of getting a discount on your rental car. Some of the most common discounts are offered through employee discounts. It’s always a good habit to check with the rental company if it offers any sort of discounts for the company you work in. Another type of discount is the one offered through your insurance agency, for example, AAA insurance offers discounts for booking through Alamo and National car rental agencies.
Hope these warnings help you avoide the rookie mistakes that we’ve been making when booking rental cars. I would love to hear about your experiences and if you have any more suggestions to add, please do so in the comments section below :-