Renting a car is a huge convenience, rather than having to wait for public transportation or pay for a taxi any time you need to walk farther than walking distance. But if you don’t know, there are hidden costs that will shrink your wallet. This list will help you prepare.
1 Your credit card can provide an insurance policy
When you rent a car, you get expensive rental insurance to cover any damages. This can cost $10 to $25 a day, and you probably don’t need it, even if your car insurance doesn’t cover a rental car. Many major credit cards offer insurance for rental cars at no additional cost. But be sure before you count on it. Some credit cards limit coverage, while others don’t offer it at all. Call to check first. You may be able to save on additional rental insurance costs.
2 But credit cards don’t cover everything
When you call to check your credit card rental policy, be sure to ask about their coverage. Some credit card companies may reimburse you for any damages incurred while renting a car, but will not pay the rental company’s assessed fees. These costs can add up.
Every driver counts — and the cost
Even if all of your drivers are over 25, you may pay a fee for every additional driver you register with your rental car. Think carefully about how many drivers you need. Specify one or both to avoid incurring additional charges.
4 Younger drivers cost more
For a long time, car rental companies did not even allow drivers under the age of 21. Now, most people do, but high fees can be part of the young driver experience – typically, a young driver (under 25) registers for a daily fee.
5 Stick to the paved road
When a rental car representative walks you through the company’s policies, it’s easy to overlook details. One thing you must be aware of: Most companies prohibit the use of cars on unpaved roads. If you purchased a collision damage waiver or other rental car insurance, this will most likely be ineffective if you are driving on gravel or unpaved roads. Stick with the old ways unless you want to pay for your off-road adventure.
6 Fill up the fuel tank before returning the car
On your way to return your rental car, one must-stop is your local gas station. Most rental car companies require a full tank when you return the car. If you fail to do this, you will be charged for gas. The gas prices charged by car rental companies are significantly higher than local gas prices.
7 Avoid extra airport fees
If you rent a car at an airport terminal, you will be assessed a surcharge for an airport fee. The rental car company passes these surcharges to the airport and passes them on to the consumer, so if you rent a car at the airport, there is no way to escape this cost. However, you can rent a car by taking the shuttle outside the airport.
8 Bring Your Temporary Items to Save Money
It’s the little things in life that count, and the same goes for renting a car. Need a child seat or a GPS? Want to listen to the radio? Equip yourself and save big bucks. You can easily pay $3 a day for satellite radio, which is more expensive than a child safety seat or GPS. Bring your travel temporary items, and be sure to have the rental car company remove them — from the car and the bill — before you drive out of the parking lot.
If you’re prepared, you can enjoy the convenience of renting a car without incurring unexpected costs. Do a little research and ask lots of questions so you know exactly what you’re getting – and how much you’re paying – with your rental car.