Car Rental Buyers Guide
There are many situations that require you to rent a car. When you go on vacation, when traveling for business, or when your personal vehicle is stuck in the shop, are some of the most prevalent. It’s almost a guarantee that someday, you will need to rent a car. First time renters may find it overwhelming, but most of the time the process is simple.
Before You Make Your Reservation
Take inventory of what you need. If you’re planning on using the car for a road trip, you may want to go with a company that offers free unlimited mileage. If you need a shuttle to take you from the airport to the location, be sure that’s a service they offer. Not all car rental companies are made the same, in fact many cater to a segment of the population. For example, Enterprise specializes in offering local rentals to people with car trouble, while Avis is known for their special attention to business travelers.
What to Keep in Mind
- Insurance: Nearly all rental companies offer some form of insurance. While it may seem smart to buy the coverage directly from the company, you may already have enough coverage through other resources. Other sources of insurance include your regular car insurance, credit card benefits, and AAA for roadside assistance. Also, some rental agents may try to charge you for insurance even though you denied it. Read your bill before you drive away in your rental, as this is not a charge you can get refunded after the fact.
- Types of Cars: Each car rental company has a different fleet, meaning there is a seemingly endless amount of vehicles to choose from when you are not loyal to one rental agency. They all come with various price points, with choices that fit in most budgets. While the majority of rental companies allow customers to reserve specific models or classes, there is normally no guarantee that you will get the car you requested. In these cases, consumers will usually be upgraded to the next class without an extra charge – but be wary, as sometimes those extra fees can sneak onto your bill without you noticing.
- Fees: That price you were quoted when you made your reservation may not be the price you end up paying if you’re not careful. Rental agencies are notorious for throwing in extra charges and refusing to offer proper customer service to remedy the issue. Discuss all charges with the rental agent who helps you fill out paperwork, and then confirm them yourself by reading the paperwork and your receipt. The most common mischarges are for insurance and upgrades.
- Age Matters: When it comes to renting a car, age matters. It used to be that people under the age of 25 could not rent a car. Now, rental companies are more lenient. Most allow customers under the age of 25 to rent their lower class vehicles, but these rentals often come with surcharges.
Some Last Minute Tips
Always read the fine print when you’re signing a contract with a car rental agency. Most rental companies offer employee incentives for agents to upsell, or they require they meet a quota for their job. This leads to dishonest practices among booking agents, and many consumers have reported being charged for upgrades or insurance they were not aware they were purchasing, or were flat out told they were not being charged for.
Before you drive off the lot, take pictures of the car from every angle. This gives you some added insurance in case a previous driver damaged the car and the rental agency didn’t notice.