Renting a Car? Don’t Make These Costly Mistakes

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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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