Rental Car Gotchas

Whether we travel for business or for fun, most of us have rented a vehicle at one point or another (unless you are in a place like Bermuda where there are no car rentals, only scooters).  As we know, rental rates vary significantly between car companies.  Technically there are three major care rental companies, but you have everything from your uber cheap rental to your high-end, luxury rental agencies.  Regardless of which rental agency decide to use, take a moment to learn their terms of use.

Most car rental agencies will give you unlimited mileage for the period of your car rental; however, others offer this perk for an additional cost.  So, you have read the fine details.  Additionally, rental agencies are now offering two rates- Pay Now and Pay Later.  As to be expected, the pay now rate will be cheaper than the pay later rate.  However, if you opt for the cheaper rate, you may be locked into a situation where you cannot get a refund of your money should your plans change or if you find a better deal elsewhere.  Again, know the terms of the deal.

One other gotcha is the return full or pre-pay for gas.  A seasoned veteran who knows their driving habits and patterns is wise enough to have investigated the cost of gas off premise and can determine whether or not it would be more economical to gas up in advance.  In most situations, I have chosen to return full because I know that I rarely end up using half a tank of gas unless I am doing a massive road trip.  Even when doing a massive road trip, I elect to gas up on my own because it typically turns out to be cheaper.  If it more convenient for you pre-pay for gas, make sure that you return the car on fumes to justify the cost that you will pay.

One of last gotchas that is often unavoidable in some markets is the airport rental fees.  If you’ve bothered to look at your bill after renting from an airport counter, you may notice that these fees almost equal half of the total rental rate.  Unless you rent from an offsite location, you have no way of getting around these fees; however, there is a way to make them less painful.  How you say?  Become a member of the rental car agencies loyalty program so that you can get information on discounts and qualify for free rentals?  Not a member of a loyalty program?  Make sure you check online for discount codes from sites like couponcabin and retailmenot.  Every little bit that you save adds up.

Bottom line, make sure that you count all of the costs when renting vehicles and get what you truly need.


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