Are you thinking of renting a car?
Chances are you have at one time or another rented a car. If you have, you must have realized that it’s more than just hopping into a vehicle and driving away. You will come across issues such as whether you should take additional insurance, who should refuel the car, whether you can legally drive into another country, car inspection and who should be there to witness it, etc.
There are many questions about car rentals that you should be aware of before signing on the dotted line. Below are five things you should not do when renting a car.
1. Prepaying for Gasoline
While it may appeal to pay for gasoline in advance, you are likely to pay more, especially if you return the car with unused fuel. Unless you have an early flight that will make it inconvenient to refuel the car yourself, always avoid prepaying for gasoline. Even where you are only charged for the fuel you use, having a car rental agency refuel the car is always more costly than refuelling it yourself.
2. Failing to Identify a Refueling Station Near Where You Pick up the Car
Immediately after picking the car, identify the nearest best-priced places to refuel. As you drive from the rental agency or out of the airport, take note of local gas stations, especially the easily accessible and best-priced ones. Knowing exactly where the gas stations are means you don’t have to drive around in unfamiliar neighbourhoods looking for gas stations.
3. Purchasing Insurance
Before purchasing a car rental insurance, check with your insurance company first to establish whether they cover rentals as well. If you have full coverage, chances are it covers car rentals as well. However, a minimum cover may not include car rentals. Check with your insurance first before you commit to purchasing car rental insurance. In most cases, your car insurance also covers your rented car.
Even if the rental car is an upgrade of the one you have at home, a comprehensive insurance will cover it nonetheless. In any case, even where your regular car insurance does not cover vehicle rentals, chances are your credit card does. In some instances, a credit card coverage is better than your car insurance. It also provides a secondary insurance coverage for whatever your regular car insurance does not cover.
4. Overlooking the Caveat on “Loss of Use” Insurance
If your car rental is damaged, you will be charged for “loss of use” to compensate for lost revenue during the time when the vehicle will be off the road for repairs. The charge is usually equivalent to a day’s rental for the vehicle, and most car insurers do not include this fee. However, many credit cards cover “loss of use” as long as you use the card to pay for your car rental.
5. Ignoring Upgrade Offers
It’s always better to reserve a low-priced vehicle and then ask the rental desk attendant about potential upgrades. This is a good strategy for getting upgrades on the cheap, especially during peak seasons when most low-priced cars are taken. You might even get a free or a highly discounted upgrade to a better, larger, more powerful car. If the desk agent asks if you would consider an upgrade, tell them it depends on the price and you could end up driving away in a bigger more advanced vehicle at a highly discounted price.
You can rent a good car at a great price if you avoid the above common mistakes that most people make.