Thinking of hiring a rental car for your next road trip, vacation or work travel? Check out these tips to get the best value for money, and make a wise choice for your personal needs.
Why hire a rental car?
Unless you have an older reliable car that’s super cheap to run and fix, I highly recommend hiring a rental for your next trip. According to AAA. the average cost of running a vehicle (including gas, maintenance, insurance, depreciation, registration and tires), is $8,558 a year or 57c a mile, and goes up exponentially with the size and make of your vehicle. This is just a basic figure and doesn’t account for anything that can and does happen when driving for long periods of time. Hiring a rental car takes all the stress and worry out of car travel, and for $20-40 a day, it really is worth having piece of mind.
Search and compare on all rental car and travel sites.
First thing is first before you seriously start searching, clear your cookies folder. This goes for ALL travel related searches. As soon as these websites know that you have looked at something a few times they’ll jack up the prices. I learned that the hard way last time I went to Dubai, I just thought it was because it was getting closer to the weekend but nope, they were scamming me through my previous search history.
Look on all rental car and travel websites and keep a note of the prices and what’s available. Websites you wouldn’t normally look at for car rentals (like Priceline), actually do the price comparisons for you and offer reasonable prices.
Sign up at rental car websites
OK so this is an obvious one but it really is worth while. I always create a fake junk email account (mail.com is good because they don’t ask for a telephone number or any personal verification information), and I use that to sign up for as many travel service mailing lists as I can. As long as you are not signing up for a credit card service, getting sent these emails is free and the coupons are worth it. Everything from hotels to car rentals, airport parking and flights can be couponed and discounted and you’d be silly not to take advantage of it. Scan though the emails once a week and keep the ones that are of interest to you.
My favorite game
I’m sure I invented this but I probably didn’t, and it’s a sneaky thing to do, but print off 2 rental car coupons that say “Free Vehicle Upgrade”. Go inside and pay for your rental car with one coupon, then when you go outside and pick your vehicle, show the attendant your second coupon and tell them that you are eligible for a free upgrade, then walk over to the luxury grade vehicles. This doesn’t work every time and it depends who’s working on the lot, but I have seriously gotten some awesome vehicles doing this including a V8 Camaro, a convertible mustang and a Cadillac. Take note of the attendants name and when you pull up to the gate to leave, tell them “such and such” said you could take this one. Haha! It really does work sometimes so give it a try!
Time of the year matters!
It really does suck that there is a HUGE price discrepancy between peak and off-peak times. Iv’e gotten a car for under $100 a week in winter and in between seasonal times, and then had to pay $400 a week during school vacation times….Welcome to the travel industry…
Make note of all high peak and popular times and if you can avoid them or hold off your trip, then you’ll be much better for it. Not only will attractions and roads be less congested, but you will save a bunch of money.
Inspect your vehicle
I cannot stress this enough and once again, I learned the hard way. I was running late for a meeting and grabbed the first car in my category and took off. Little did I know that it had a huge dent in the passenger side door and when I went to return the vehicle, they said they had no record of it and I got lumped paying for repairs. My insurance company was involved and I had to pay a $500 deductible. Now i don’t care how late i am, I go over that paintwork with a fine toothed comb.
Other useful tips:
-Don’t return late. You will be charged a full 24 hours not part there of.
-Rent though budget brands. I always do and never had a problem with good old Thrifty and Dollar. Alamo is awesome too.
-Don’t pay for extra insurance if your policy already covers rental cars.
– Look at renting further out and organizing a pick up. Airports have surcharges.
– Always pump your own gas and return it full. Don’t trust them to add extra charges
– Don’t rent a GPS. It’s $10 a day extra and It’s always a good idea to bring your own or navigate using your smartphone.
– Pre-pay. This is hassle free and some companies also offer percentage discounts.
– Pay by the week even if you don’t really need all that time. They often have cheaper rates for longer bookings. Do your research and change dates.
Yay! Now you know how to book a car, save money and get the most out of your Rentals. Enjoy your trip! 🙂