General Question

squirbel's avatar

What tips can you share with me before I rent a car?

Asked by squirbel (3982 points ) March 27th, 2011

This is for a roundtrip; 700 miles [rounded up] 1 way, 1400 both ways. It is for a 3 day trip; I’m going to pick something up and come right back.

What should I know?
What should I avoid?
What should I remember?

Thanks!

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14 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

Get your own insurance company to give you an insurance rider to cover the rental. It will be cheaper than buying the rental companies insurance. You may have to argue to get them to not charge you for the insurance, take a copy of the insurance rider with you.

Fill up the tank before you drop it off. Rental companies will generally charge more for gas than a gas station.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

Everything @WestRiverrat said plus make sure any existing damage to the car is noted prior to taking the car.

creative1's avatar

If you are using a credit card check with your credit card company to see if they have any special things if you use their card when renting the car. All you would have to do is reserve the car with the particular card in order to either get the special rate, upgrade or discount, I know bank of america used to have something with their corporate card that they would cover the insurance. So check that out as well. When you drop off the car you don’t have to actually pay for the car with the card you can pay cash if you want. AAA also may offer some deals as well so if you have AAA check with them.

I also found the rates online were cheaper than the rates were over the phone.

nieder's avatar

Do not pay for the pre paid fill up. They charge an entire tank. Just remember to fill it up upon returning the car.

Jeruba's avatar

Pick a model that’s close to the size of the car you’re used to driving.

Spring for a little extra for the sake of comfort, rather than taking the cheapest model.

Spend a little time trying out the controls before you drive out of the lot.

Leave something you’ll recognize—a map, a scarf, a shopping bag—in the passenger seat when you park the car in a large lot to help you find it again. Stepping out of the mall into a huge sea of cars is the wrong time to remember that you haven’t written down your rental car’s license plate number and don’t even remember what it looks like other than that it’s white.

WasCy's avatar

If you can, use a credit card that has no preset spending limit, such as AmEx, or one with a very high credit limit (that you’re not close to). The reason is that the rental company can legally “lock out” a higher-than-you-expect amount on the card at the point of rental, just in case you take longer than expected or otherwise incur more charges than you intend. That protects them in case you exceed the intended rental – their money is assured by the credit card company – but it might leave your card unusable while you’re on the road.

squirbel's avatar

Thank you so far!

creative1's avatar

Oh and most rental car companies have unlimited miliage these days to check and make sure you get one that way your not having to watch the miliage you use and have to worry about going over

snowberry's avatar

If you do get into an accident while in your rental car, using their insurance would make sure your own insurance policy does not go up (it’s called a bumper to bumper policy). This is the best reason for using the rental car insurance.

creative1's avatar

@snowberry some credit card offer that same protection for free as a part of your benefits for having that card and using it to reserve the car with. You want to call your credit card companies to see what the offer in lines of rental car benefits. Some have some real good ones.

BarnacleBill's avatar

They will try to do a snow job on you for the insurance. It can almost double your daily rate. Unless you have a very high deductible, it’s better to pass on the daily rate. Your carrier should cover you anyways. The upside to getting their coverage is that if you are scratched or dinged in a parking lot, you’re automatically covered, which makes The $75 for three days coverage cheaper than having to pay your deductible or pay for repairs out of pocket.

After 20+ years of renting cars for work, something has happened to the car six times, none of which was an accident. Three times the car was damaged in a parking lot, twice something fell off a truck and damaged the car, and once a construction zone caused me to brake suddenly and I scaped a guard rail.

Taciturnu's avatar

Great answers here, but I would also recommend finding a coupon for whatever company you’re renting from or going through Priceline. I’ve had great luck with getting deals with them. The “Name Your Price” option works wonders.

YoBob's avatar

Purchasing gas from the rental company is pretty much of a rip off (even more that purchasing gas at the gas station). Don’t do the pre-purchase gas thing and make sure you return it with as much gas as it had when you rented it.

Oh… and try not to catch too much air when flying over those hills on your joy ride… ;)

snowberry's avatar

One last thing: Before you turn your car back in, GET ALL YOUR STUFF OUT! I’ve left a few valuables behind by accident. No fun.

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