Choosing a Rental Company
Major national chains like Hertz, Avis, and Budget have locations across the country and internationally. Local rental companies may offer better deals in some destinations. Compare rates across a few providers. Look for deals on travel sites like Expedia.
Consider membership programs like AAA that provide discounts. Renting from a hotel may also save money. Avoid extremely cheap unknown agencies that could have unreliable vehicles or hidden fees.
Picking a Car
Choose a car size based on your needs. For individuals or couples, compact or mid-size cars offer the best gas mileage and maneuverability. Families and groups may want a roomy minivan or SUV.
Match the car to the location too. If driving in rural areas, an SUV can manage rugged terrain better. For city driving and parking, a more compact vehicle may be ideal.
Also factor in features like automatic transmission, snow tires, navigation, car seats, etc. Economy basic rentals help save money. Upgraded vehicles provide more comfort and conveniences.
Reserving Your Rental
Book rentals as early as possible for the lowest rates. Avoid waiting until the last minute when prices spike.
Compare rates across multiple pickup and return times/dates to find deals. A rental spanning a weekday is generally cheaper than one booked over a weekend. Extending a rental by even one day can sometimes lower the average daily rate significantly.
Once you’ve found the best rate, reserve online to lock it in. Double check all details before confirming the booking. Print or save confirmation details to have handy at pickup.
What You’ll Need at Pickup
Bring the following items to provide when picking up your rental:
- Driver’s license
- Car rental booking confirmation
- Credit card for deposit
- Proof of car insurance (if not using the rental company’s)
- Coupons or membership cards for discounts
Avoid delays by having all required documents ready when you arrive to pickup the car.
Inspecting the Vehicle
Do a thorough walkaround inspection before driving off the rental lot. Check for any scratches, dents, or paint flaws and point them out. This avoids any pre-existing damage being incorrectly blamed on you later.
Test all functions – wipers, radio, seat adjustments, lights, etc. Verify the gas tank is full too. Report any issues immediately to swap the car if needed. Don’t discover problems down the road after leaving with the vehicle.
Understanding the Rental Agreement
Carefully read all terms and conditions of the contract before signing. Key things to review:
- Total rental cost including fees, taxes, surcharges
- Mileage limits and charges for excess miles
- Refueling policies – Is returning with a full tank required?
- Liability insurance coverage and deductibles
- Penalties for late return or damages
Understanding the fine print upfront prevents surprises down the road. Ask questions if any points are unclear before finalizing the rental agreement.
Helpful Add-Ons to Consider
Additional products offered can provide valuable protections and conveniences:
- Rental insurance – Covers accident repairs, theft, liability claims
- Roadside assistance – Help for lockouts, flat tires, jumpstarts, tows
- GPS navigation – Useful for navigating unfamiliar areas
- WiFi hotspot – Provides internet access on the road
- Car seats and stroller rentals – Ideal for family trips
- Unlimited mileage – Avoids per-mile overage fees
Evaluate costs vs. benefits to choose which extras fit your rental needs.
Returning Your Rental
When returning your rental vehicle, be sure to:
- Refill gas tank if required by your rental contract
- Remove all personal belongings and trash
- Park in designated rental company spaces
- Return at the agreed upon time to avoid late charges
- Obtain a receipt showing car condition and return time/date
Following rental protocols ensures there are no last-minute issues or surprise charges on your final bill.
Renting a car simplifies transportation and provides freedom to explore destinations at your own pace. Follow these car rental tips to maximize convenience while minimizing unnecessary costs and hassles. Safe travels!