Tips on Securing the Cheapest Car Rentals



While people tend to spend a fair amount of times lookingfor cheap traveldeals, including cheap airplanetickets, cheapdeals, discount hotel rooms, discounttravel deals, and cheap vacation packages,those planning to rent cars at their destinations should also look into cheap auto rentals.

What many less experienced travelers do not realize is thatrenting a car can be a stressful, confusing, and expensive process.  The car rental industry is infamous for itsvariety of confusing options for customers. Last year 20 percent of car renters reported problems with theirexperience, according to J.D. Power.

Rental car agents are typically paid on commission, whichmeans that they are incentivized to try to upsell renters on everything.  Customers who ask if a special option isneeded are usually told “yes” regardless of whether the option will reallybenefit them.

The following are tips on how to secure the cheapest carrental price on your next trip, according to Daniel Bortz:

·     Bringyou own transponder (such as E-ZPass or Sun Pass) vs. using the rental carcompany’s transponder.  Often companytransponders come with a convenience fee of $5 a day starting with the firstday the device is used.  If you rent acar for a week and go through a toll on the first day, you will get charged a$35 fee for the entire week regardless of whether you go through additionaltolls.  If you need to purchase atransponder, you can do so online or at select convenience stores such asPublix, CVS, or Walgreens.

 

·     Do notprepay for your rental before departure. Increasingly car rental companies are incentivizing customers to prepayfor rentals by offering cheaper prices. The problem is that there are often major caveats in such deals.  By prepaying you are locking yourself into asingle price which may drop as your pickup date approaches.  If that happens and you want to re-book atthe lower rate, you may get charged a cancellation fee of about $50. 

 

·     Do notprepay for gas when picking up your rental. This is not a good deal since any gas left in the fuel tank isnon-refundable when you return your car. Also, when customers prepay for gas, the rental company charges the “localmarket rate” for fuel which is often more expensive that nearby gas stations.  Remember rental car companies provide fuel asan accommodation and charge a premium for this service.

 

A handy way to find the cheapest gas nearan airport is to use the free GasBuddy app. Remember to take a photo of the fuel gauge when you return your car incase your car rental company tries to charge you a refueling fee later.

 

·     Makecertain to take photos of any damage to your car when you first see it.  If there is pre-existing damage, insist thatthe rental agent records it in the agreement. You should also take photos when you return your rental.

 

·     Do notautomatically purchase car rental insurance. Such insurance can cost up to $50 a day, depending on the planselected.  Many drivers are alreadycovered for car insurance through their existing car insurance policies,homeowner’s insurance, or credit cards. Most auto insurance policies include coverage for rental cars.  Instead of just assuming coverage, you shouldcontact your car insurance company or credit card issuer in advance todetermine if you are covered when renting cars.

 

·     Considerrenting from an off-airport location since airports usually charge car rentalcompanies airport concession fees when are passed on to customers.  Daily rates at off-airport stations can be upto $20 to $30 cheaper per day.  Don’tforget to factor in the price of a taxi or Uber ride to an off-site locationwhen comparing prices.

 

·     Checkout rates of independent agencies.  Thethree largest rental car companies are Avis, Enterprise, and Hertz.  There are a number of smaller agencies thatoffer competitive rates including Fox Rent a Car and Advantage.  There are often tradeoffs to be made whenrenting from smaller companies, such as driving older cars and often not havingairport locations. 

 

·     Redeemcar rental discounts for premium memberships often offered by frequent flierprograms, credit card holders, AAA, Costco and BJ’s.  These discounts can often be combined withdiscount codes from car rental companies. 

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