Renting a car for a vacation just makes sense. It saves you money that you’d be spending on taxi rides, and keeps you from enjoying your trip on the schedule of public transportation. But car rental can be daunting for both first-timers and veteran travelers alike. Here are 8 things to keep in mind when you pick up your car from the rental agency.
1. Use a credit card when picking up the car
Renting a car on Skyscanner is a breeze, but make sure you use a credit card when picking up your wheels. You could use the debit card to your bank, but some rental car companies check your credit score to make sure you can pay any charges. If you use a credit card you won’t need to worry about passing through a credit check. However, you should know that some car agencies will put a hold on some funds from the card until you’re finished with the car. Oh, and don’t think of using a prepaid credit card – many car rental companies won’t accept them.
2. Kids cost more to drive rental cars
You’re 23-year-old daughter may have a spotless driving record, but car rental companies don’t care. Rental companies only see them as a possible liability to their goods because they’ve heard nothing parties like a rental. And if you’re under 25, you should expect a daily fee tacked onto your bill young drivers, regardless of whether they drive any during the trip. As long as they’re on the extra driver list, you’ll pay.
3. Keep drivers to a minimum
Whether you’re going on a family vacation or a getaway with some friends, keep a lid on how many of them can drive the car. No matter how many of them are older than 25, you’ll still wind up paying a fee on who can actually drive. Try to keep to just two drivers or you’ll be paying more money than you really should.
4. Shop around on the car insurance
You can get insurance on your rental car from the agency. You could also shave your head, wear a top hat, and claim you’re the Monopoly guy. We’re here to say you should do neither, but wouldn’t mind much if you go the route of Rich Uncle Pennybags. The insurance at a car rental shop is extremely high, and should only be used if you have exhausted all other options. Take a look at your personal vehicle insurance, which could cover rentals already. You should also give your credit card company a call as many of them offer some type of car rental insurance.
5. Try not to rent a car at the airport
We know it’s easy to just pick up a car at the airport. But what you may not realize is you’ll wind up paying for the right to pick up the car moments after stepping off the plane. There’s nothing the rental companies can do on this one since they’re obligated to collect and pay these fees to the airport where they do business. You can get around this fee by simply hailing a cab to take you to the car rental shop that isn’t on airport grounds. If you’re renting a car on our site you can actually see where the rental place is clicking on “Show location” on the search results page.
6. Stay on the paved roads
This one probably sounds pretty obvious, but hear us out. There are not many rental agencies that are fine with you taking a rental car off-roading. And off-roading doesn’t have to be someone going mud running. Let’s say you’re in Hawaii and want to visit a scenic part of the beach that doesn’t have a road laid out to it. Same goes for tailgating on a plot of grassy land. Both of those are technically off-roading, and both of them would be a violation of your rental agreement. If you wind up getting stuck in the mud with a rental car in a place where you shouldn’t have been driving, the fees to get it unstuck and cleaned up fall on you.
7. Fill up the tank before returning the car
Your vacation was a blast, but now it’s time to turn the car in and head home. Only problem is you forgot to bring the car back with an empty tank. Could you let the rental shop fill it up for you? Absolutely, but you could be hit up for up to $8 per gallon. At the time of publication, the highest gas price in the States was $4.46 in Kauai County, Hawaii. We can all spare 10 minutes and top off the tank before returning the car.
8. Bring your own extras, when possible
Sometimes you need more than just a car for the trip, and rental car companies are great about having those things you’ll need for your vacation. You can bring some of the extras with you from home. You can use the GPS from the agency you rent from, but your phone has a perfectly good navigation that won’t kill you too much on your data plan. Same thing goes for satellite radio. Listening to the 80s on 8 is great, but it’s a little more enjoyable listening to the goofy ads on the local stations. If you’re traveling with a baby, you can actually bring car seats onto the plane for no additional charge as long as it meets the guidelines of the major US air carriers. We do believe renting an electronic toll pass is worth the cost when you consider the time it’ll save you on the road.