How to choose a rental car
Here are some points to keep in mind when choosing a rental car:
- Size Matters: The size of the vehicle you want to rent can influence your pay price. Terms like “compact,” “midsize,” and “luxury” vary by car rental company.
- Shop around and compare options – Check multiple websites to find the type of car you want to rent—look up rates from different rental companies and check price comparison websites.
- Special offers: You can find more reasonable prices if you book in advance or combine the car reservation with a flight or hotel stay. Please read the acceptable print section for limitations, including blackout dates during which the advertised price may not be available. You may also be able to get discounts as a benefit from your credit card company or if you’re part of certain groups, like auto clubs or big chains.
- Your driving record: Ask the car rental company to check customers’ driving records. Many do, and recent traffic violations could prevent you from being rented even if you already have a confirmed reservation.
Charges and expenses
Rates posted on rental car ads may not give you an accurate picture of what you’ll have to pay. Calculate and take into account other possible charges and expenses.
- Early returns: some companies may apply a charge if you return the car more than 24 hours before the end of your rental period. If you must return the vehicle early, call the company to speak with an agent.
- Late returns: Many companies do not apply additional charges if you return the car with a delay of up to 30 minutes. However, you will still have to pay full days for optional items, such as liability insurance coverage. If you’re going to deliver the car late, find out if it’s cheaper for you to pay late fees or extend the rental period.
- Additional charges for rental at an airport: renting a car can be expensive. Additional charges may apply even when a rental company transports you to their location outside the airport premises.
- Gasoline: Most companies require you to return the car with a full gas tank. If you don’t, you’ll be charged the rental company’s gas price, which is usually more expensive than you’d pay at a local gas station. Some companies may offer to pay for a full gas tank in advance, so you don’t have to stop for fuel before returning the car. This may be convenient, but it may also be more expensive than filling the gas tank yourself, especially if you return the vehicle with a full tank of gas you already paid for.
- Mileage: Most companies offer unlimited miles, but daily limits may apply depending on the type of car you rent (for example, some utility vehicles or performance cars). It is helpful to know the approximate number of miles you anticipate driving. That way, you can choose a company that offers you the most favorable mileage terms.
- Taxes: Before making your reservation, please review the quote carefully to confirm if all state, city, or county taxes and other fees, such as a “vehicle registration fee” or a “trailer recovery fee,” are included. Energy” to avoid surprises later.
- Tolls: Most companies offer ways to pay tolls automatically with devices, but this comes at a price.
The company could do the following:
- Charge you a service fee for each rental day, even if you don’t use the service again. There is usually a maximum dollar amount for the rental period.
- Add a service charge each time you pay a toll with the device, which means you have to pay an additional cost.
- Offer you the device for a fixed charge for the entire rental period that covers all the tolls you pass through. However, that means you pay a fee for the device even if you don’t go through any tolls.
- Roadside assistance service: ask if the service is included in the base price of the car rental or if you must pay an additional amount. If there is a charge, find out what it covers, such as a flat tire, a dead battery, or if you leave your keys in the car. If you’re a member of an automobile club, find out if your membership includes free or low-cost roadside assistance. You can also find out if your credit card (assuming you use it to pay for car rental) or your car insurance can offer you roadside assistance for rental cars.
- Out-of-State Driving Fees – Most companies allow you to drive your cars out of state, but some may charge an additional fee.
- Drop Off Elsewhere Fees: Returning your rental car to a different location from where you picked it up could be costly.
- Equipment rental: If you want additional items, such as a child safety seat, bike racks, or skis, you will have to pay for them. Reserve these items in advance to ensure they will be available.
- Additional drivers: some companies charge for adding another driver to the contract.
- Underage drivers: the minimum age to rent a car is 25 years. However, most major car rental companies allow younger people to drive rental cars for an additional fee.
Insurance: Car rental companies often offer their customers the option of paying for various additional insurance coverages. They tell you that if you buy the range, you will limit your liability while driving the car. However, you may already be covered by your auto or homeowner’s insurance policies. Check your policies and call your insurer if you have questions about your coverage. If you are traveling on business, you may be covered by your employer’s insurance. Some credit card companies and auto clubs include free rental protection when you use their cards to pay for a car rental.
Waivers: Rental companies may also try to sell you collision damage coverage (CDW) or loss damage coverage (LDW) that guarantees the rental company will pay for any damage to the car you rent. However, unlike collision insurance, a waiver will not pay for any personal injuries or damage to your property. Check your health insurance policy. It may offer protection that CDW coverage does not.
Some credit cards also offer CDW coverage when you pay for your car rental with the card.
If you don’t purchase CDW coverage or aren’t covered by your car insurance policy, you will be responsible for any damage to the rental car, sometimes even for the total value.
If you buy CDW coverage, it could be canceled if you damage the car while driving recklessly or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It could also be compensated if you allow an unauthorized person to drive the rental vehicle.
Blocking debit and credit cards
Most car rental companies place a hold or block on your debit or credit card for more than the agreed-upon cost of the rental. They do this to protect themselves against charges that could exceed the authorized amount. Companies do this to ensure you have enough money or credit to pay the final bill. They will not process the blocked amount if you return the car as promised in your rental agreement. If you are close to reaching your credit limit or have a low balance in your bank account when the freeze is applied, your card may be declined for other purchases.
- The car rental company’s customer service department
- The attorney general of your state