When you rent a car, you have to make a lot of decisions. Should you purchase insurance for the rental? Which mileage plan does the company provide? Should you prepay for fuel? Making the wrong choices can be costly.
Here are some mistakes to avoid next time you rent a car:
1. Don’t just go with the first company you come across.
Take the time to compare rental car rates, because rates can differ substantially from company to company.
2. Don’t purchase insurance if you don’t need to.
Most of us have insurance coverage for our personal vehicle. If you’re covered, you probably don’t need to buy more from the rental company. Review your policy or ask your insurer if your personal auto insurance covers car rentals.
3. Don’t rent a car if you don’t have auto insurance.
Renting a car without any kind of auto coverage at all can be devastating financially. If you damage your rental car, the company may charge extra to cover the losses they incur when the car is out of service.
4. Avoid renting a car at an airport.
Airport rental companies will charge an additional surcharge, so you’ll save money if you rent away from the airport.
5. Get an adequate mileage plan from the rental company.
Avoid high costs by paying attention to the kind of mileage plans available and make the right choice depending on your needs. Some companies provide unlimited mileage, so you can drive as many miles in the car as you need to without incurring extra fees. When a plan has a mileage cap, you’ll be charged a fee if you exceed it.
6. Choose the right fuel replacement option.
Pre-pay – Paying a flat fee for a full tank of fuel at the outset lets you return the car with fuel at any level, but you don’t get a refund for unused gas.
Let the company refuel – This option lets you return the car with a less-than-full tank of gas, leaving it to the rental company to refuel. This is the most expensive choice, because the rental company will charge extra, sometimes as much as double what a gas station would cost.
Fill the tank yourself – Stop and fuel up the car at a gas station right before returning. You’ll pay a better rate than if you return it less than full.
7. Turn the car in on time.
Most rental car companies will charge you an hourly fee if you are more than 30 minutes late in returning your rental.
Take a little extra time when renting a car and address these issues. Avoid the mistake of paying more than you need to.