Although car rental companies are making it easier than ever to book a vehicle, there are a couple of things you should know before making a reservation to avoid paying more than you should. In a recent article for U.S. News & World Report, writer Susan Johnston put together a list of tips to help travelers from “paying a premium” at the rental counter. Below we’ve summarized her suggestions:
- Buying extra insurance you don’t need – Have your own auto insurance policy? There’s a good chance it covers collision damage and personal liability for a rental car. Additionally, if you use a credit card to book and pay for the rental, the card may provide secondary collision coverage that kicks in for anything your personal policy doesn’t cover.
- Renting from an airport – Airport rentals often come with airport surcharges. Avoid these extra fees by going with a car rental service away from the airport which may also provide free transportation to and from your terminal.
- Not shopping around – Rental rates can vary so shop around. Be sure to check for mileage caps if you plan on driving a long distance and use the Internet to comparison shop between rental companies.
- Prepaying for gas – Fill up yourself at a cheaper gas station nearby and avoid prepaying for a full tank of gas when you only used half of one.
- Paying extra for GPS or a car seat – Skip the GPS device and use your smartphone or printed directions to get around. Additionally, most airlines will allow you to check in a car seat for free so there’s no need to rent one from the car rental company.
- Rushing through the inspection – Johnston recommends thoroughly inspecting your car before driving it off the lot to avoid being charged for damage you didn’t cause. If you notice a ding or scratch (no matter how small) not listed on the car condition form, bring it to the rental company’s attention.
- Returning a car late – Most car rental companies charge daily rates based on a 24-hour period. Avoid being charged a late fee or for an extra day by giving yourself plenty of time to return the vehicle.
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