We know: 7 Tips Before You Rent A Car

If you're about to rent a car, here are some tips to keep in mind before you get to the counter:

  1. Discounts: Ask what kind of discounts the company has. Many companies have discounts for AAA, AARP, military and other private and corporate memberships. If you are a member of an organization that gets a discount, be sure to take your membership card with you.
  2. Weekly versus Daily Rates: A weekly rate is almost always cheaper. If you're going to have the car that long, ask and compare. Also, see if there is a penalty charge if you bring the car back early. Or, if you only want the car for a few days, but may need it longer, ask if you can switch from the daily to the weekly rate if you need to later.
  3. Insurance Coverage: Before you get to the counter, be sure to know who your auto insurance carrier is and if your carrier covers you in a rental car. Know your deductible, and if you have uninsured motorist. Also, if you pay by credit card, your credit card company may supplement your car insurance so that you won't have to buy insurance from the rental car company. Remember, before you decline the rental company's insurance, call both your auto insurance agent and your credit card company to be sure you are covered. Declining the insurance at the counter can save you a lot of money, but you must have adequate coverage of your own in order to sign the waiver of rental insurance.
  4. Making a Reservation: You can usually do this over the phone or online. You'll need your credit card, the location you want to pick-up and drop-off from, and the dates when you'll be using the car. When you've finished ordering the car, you'll usually get a reservation number. Don't lose it, it makes life much easier.
  5. Selecting a Car: The cost of a rental car generally relates to its size. So, a small or economy car is the least expensive. Then there are midsize, standard and full size categories. Each company classes cars a little differently, so when you take to the sales person, ask for examples of a car from each category. You can also rent SUVs, trucks and convertibles. Sometimes people reserve a car that is smaller (and cheaper) than the one they really want, hoping there will be none available when they arrive and they will get a free upgrade. This can work, but it's risky.
  6. Airport Rental Cars: If you're picking up your rental car at an airport, be sure to ask if the rental site location is at the airport, or at an off-site location. On-site locations are convenient. Off-site locations mean you must take a rental car shuttle. This may mean the car is cheaper, but you have to account for the extra time it takes to drop off the car, catch the shuttle and get back to the airport.
  7. Gas Options: You must pay for the gas you use in the rental car and there are several options to do this. Usually, you can either bring the car back empty or bring it back full. Bringing the car back with a full tank is almost always the best buy, but remember to scope out a nearby gas station as you leave the lot, so that you can stop and fill just before you return the car.

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