It’s easy to get mixed up the first time you look to rent a car. When scanning various advertisements, do you ever flip back and forth, completely unsure of whether you’re getting the best deal? Not even sure if you can figure out which one is the best deal? Whether this is your first time renting or not, it is always important that you never enter a car rental arrangement without researching all of your options first.
Insurance is a classic example of this. The four most common types are collision damage waiver (CDW)/loss damage waiver (LDW), supplemental liability insurance, personal accident insurance, and personal effects coverage. Most rental car companies will pitch the CDW really hard, as well as the theft insurance. What you should know is that usually, you don’t need either of them. Before you shell out $15 per day or more for these options, check your normal auto insurance already covers rentals. The other thing to look up is your credit card’s policy on rentals. Almost every rental company requires a credit card for payment. That is because it makes it easy for the company to add charges for “damages” later. As a side note, because of this, DO NOT use a debit card, ever. You will have no opportunity to dispute the charges if you get cheated. Make sure you use a real credit card. Since you have to use a credit card, see if your credit card offers automatic insurance coverage as long as you charge the rental to that card. You would be surprised how many do.
The next major rip-off is the fuel purchase option. The idea is that you pay for a full tank of gas ahead of time so you can return the vehicle on empty. The catch: it’s virtually impossible for you to use all of the gas in the car, so it’s best to decline the offer and fill up the tank just before returning it. That way, you only pay for what you’ve used. Otherwise, the cost is usually far more than what you actually use.
Aside from hidden costs, most rental companies will only rent to someone who is at least 25 years old or even older. Some companies will rent cars to persons 21 years or older but often charge an additional ten to twenty dollars a day. Also, only the driver who is renting the car is covered under the insurance, so don’t let a buddy drive because if he wrecks it, you’re responsible.
Keep these basics in mind, and watch out for local taxes. With the internet, it can be easy to search out the most expensive and least expensive cities and to plan your rental accordingly. Use all the tools at your disposal, and your experience is much more likely to run smoothly without any unpleasant surprises.