We all have rented a car before and I can say from experience, it’s a pain in the butt. First off, the lines are always long because there are just two people behind the desk. Secondly, they always haggle you into anything. Literally anything, to help their quote. Lastly, you never get the car you “pre-ordered”. There is nothing we can do to change the car rental experience because it is something that will never change. However, we can do ourselves a favor and know what mistakes to avoid to make the process go by a little smoother! Plus, avoiding these rental mistakes will save you money! I know the employees always make it seem like everything is urgent but trust me you really don’t need all those added things.
Car Rental Mistakes To Avoid
(And Remember To Do!)
- Renting From An Airport– I know that may seem hard, but they add extra airport fees when renting from an airport, just for convenience. If you can, search online for rental companies “off-site” for a cheaper rate.
- Added Insurance– Car rental agencies will always ask this first. Do you want car insurance even though you already have it, or no? I have never bought car insurance. It is a waste of money if you already have car insurance (which you should). I understand accidents happen, but this is just an added insurance policy that you simply do not need!
- Prepaid Gas– Unless you are driving a lot, more than a normal tank of gas can withstand, then do not opt for prepaid gas. It is more expensive and if you do not use the whole tank you don’t get any money back. Plus you can find a much cheaper gas station then what they will charge you. Total waste of money.
- GPS– You just don’t need an extra GPS when you have a smartphone. I understand your phone might die, but do yourself a favor and look up directions before hitting the road. I know a GPS might sound nice, but that’s an extra $13.00+ a day charge you do not need. Use your phone or get a map!
- Additional Driver Fee– I don’t understand why they ask this anymore. You should never pay an additional driver fee. It is so pointless! If you are renting the car then you drive! I understand your kids or friends might want to drive around the block, and if you trust them that’s fine. Whoever paid for the rental and has their name on the car should drive. If not, make a deal with the additional driver that if they get pulled over, they pay.
- Underage Fee– This is something you cannot avoid but I wanted to bring up. When you are searching online for car rentals, make sure to call and ask for the underage fee if you are under the age of 26. Some companies charge $25+ a day, while others are only $5-$10.
- Not Checking The Return Time– If you return the car just a minute past the return time, then you will be charged. Car rental agencies are experts on ripping you off so of course they are going to charge! Just be weary of the return time and return a little early to avoid those fees.
To Remember Before Check-In And During Check-Out:
- Have your original receipt of what you ordered online on your phone so they can get you that car or similar. If they haggle you into something crappy, remind them you pre-ordered this specific vehicle and if they don’t have something similar to offer, cancel your rental and leave. They always have upgrades to offer, they just don’t want to offer them unless you are willing to pay. And never buy into the “oh, I just got a great Mustang Convertible (for a small fee) I can upgrade you too!” That small fee turns into a giant fee real quickly…
- Rent online to avoid extra fees. Just remember to always rent and book a car online to avoid any car hassle. You have proof of what you rented, and it will make the whole rental process go by quicker.
- Check your rental car before leaving the lot. Note any scratches, bumps and bruises and show the check out people when you leave.
- Take a picture of your rental car for your reference. That way they can’t charge you anything when you return the vehicle and they “notice” a scratch.
- Check the receipt they give you when you return the vehicle. Make sure it matches the original receipt you received upon check-in. Sometimes they will add hidden fees that they didn’t tell you about when you first rented the car. That is how they make extra money. If you see something that isn’t supposed to be on there, you can usually get it taken off. They should tell you the full price of your rental after you check-in. No hidden fees allowed!
- Ask for discounts. AAA, AARP, etc. Ask for any discounts because odds are they accept discounts, but they don’t offer discounts. Just a friendly reminder on your part.
I have rented so many cars I can usually get in and out of the rental location in under 30 minutes. I walk up and present my I.D. and credit card, tell them I don’t want insurance, I don’t want prepaid gas, and I don’t want a GPS. Then say I am the only driver. In which case they have nowhere else to go and know I have done this before. I will say, though, I have been haggled into a convertible that cost me a lot. So don’t listen to them when they say it will only be a few extra a day….. because that few extra could be $100/day!
Now that you know how to avoid these car rental mistakes, you should be able to walk in and out of car rental agencies with minimum fees. Take pride in beating the system. Some people learn from their mistakes, and some people don’t. But ChicMoto is here for you to teach you the ins and outs so you remember 🙂