Let me present to you our expert tips and advice on renting a car during your trip. Although car rental may seem like an easy process, choosing the right options can be overwhelming. GPS, insurance, and refueling are just a few of the many considerations to take into account when renting a car. Therefore, we have compiled the top 10 tips that you need to know when renting a car in the US.
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Now, let’s get started with our top tips. Some of these may be obvious to savvy and experienced travelers, but we hope that there are a few tips in here that are still helpful to you.
Tip number one is to sign up for a car rental rewards program. Some credit cards or your workplace may offer access to a car rental rewards program. If this is the case, make sure to enroll in the loyalty program. One of the biggest perks is that some of these programs allow you to skip the check-in counter and go straight to your car. By using your reservation app or checking the lot board for your name, you can get on the road faster. If you have a premium travel credit card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you may have access to higher status levels with rental car companies. Check out our video on maximizing these benefits on the Chase Sapphire Reserve for more information.
Tip number two is to inspect your car. Although you may be eager to hit the road, we recommend doing a quick visual inspection of your car’s exterior. Check for any damage, especially big scratches or dents, and make sure they are recorded before you leave the rental car lot. You don’t want to be held liable for any damages to the car that were there before you rented it, especially if you don’t have primary insurance coverage through a credit card.
Which brings us to tip number three – know your insurance options. Many premium travel credit cards offer primary insurance coverage for rental cars. This allows you to decline the expensive and limited insurance coverage offered by the rental car company. We have created a video that explains how this works and covers different scenarios for coverage. It’s a bit complicated, but it’s worth understanding before your next car rental.
Tip number four – don’t use points to book your car rental. Although this tip is a bit controversial, we’ve heard that car insurance coverage from a credit card only applies if you pay for the rental car in full with your credit card. Therefore, we generally pay for car rentals out of pocket instead of using points. However, if you have any experience or first-hand knowledge with this situation, please let us know in the comments section.
Tip number five is to avoid underage rental fees. Rental car companies often charge extra if you’re under 25 and want to rent a car. While this charge is hard to avoid if you’re under 25, there are some potential ways to get around it. If you’re a AAA member, you can get the fee waived with Hertz. And if you’re a USAA member, you can do the same with Enterprise.
Tip number six is to avoid refueling options. Rental car companies often offer refueling options that seem convenient but are generally a bad deal. One option is to refill your car to the necessary level, but at three or four times the normal cost of fuel. Another option is to pay for a full tank refill, but the per-gallon rate is generally a lot higher than the local gas stations. We recommend avoiding these options and simply refilling the tank yourself before returning the car.
Tip number seven is to consider your pickup and drop-off locations. Rental car companies may charge additional fees if you pick up or drop off the car at a different location than where you rented it. Therefore, it’s important to consider your travel itinerary and choose the most convenient pickup and drop-off locations to avoid these fees.
Tip number eight is to be aware of toll roads and fees. Some rental car companies may offer electronic toll payment options, but they often come with high fees. If you plan on using toll roads during your trip, it’s best to bring your own toll transponder or pay for tolls out of pocket to avoid these additional fees.
Tip number nine is to use GPS or navigation apps. Most rental cars come with GPS or navigation systems, but they may also come with additional fees. To save money, you can use your own smartphone and a navigation app like Google Maps or Waze. Just make sure to bring a phone mount to secure your phone in the car.
Finally, tip number ten is to return the car on time. Rental car companies may charge extra fees if you return the car later than the agreed-upon time. To avoid these fees, make sure to plan your trip accordingly and allow enough time to return the car before the deadline.
Overall, renting a car during your trip can be a convenient and cost-effective way to explore your destination. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential pitfalls and fees associated with car rental. By following these tips and doing your research beforehand, you can save money and have a stress-free rental car experience.
Read More: Best 8 Smart Ways to Save Money on Travel