Ways to Save Money on Your Rental Car

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From Editor: This is a guest post by Beth Montgomery

When you’re on a relaxing vacation, the last thing you want to worry about is your rental car expense. The fact is many people don’t understand which fees are and which fees are not necessary, so the rental car company ends up charging them for services that they do not need. To avoid some of the hassle that can go along with renting a car, here are a few tips to help you get out of the rental car office and on your way.

Before you commit

Before you start searching for a place to rent your car, think about what you will need in this car. What size will you need? How many days are absolutely necessary? How much are you willing to spend? Asking yourself these questions will help you avoid making a decision too quickly. If you aren’t careful, you could end up choosing the most expensive alternative and regret your decision. Once you know what you need, start your research. Begin this search as early as you possibly can, and look for coupons to help you stay on budget. Call or go online to get many price estimates from companies, and ask about specials they may provide. If your plans are flexible, you will be more likely to find a great deal that will save you a lot of money. However, make sure you know all of the terms and restrictions on these special offers before you make your decision.

When you finally decide on a rental car company, make sure you ask about any extra charges to be placed on your bill. The following charges could greatly increase the advertised base rate: Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) fees, a deposit or refundable charge, airport surcharges and drop-off fees, fuel charges, mileage fees, taxes, additional driver fees, underage driver fees, out of state charges, and/or equipment rental fees (for items such as car seats or ski racks). You will want to know which of these fees will be necessary for you and which fees can be avoided before you make a decision and sign a contract.Also, make sure you look for any other discounts offered by the company. Members of AAA, AARP, as well as many other organizations may be eligible for further discounts with rental car companies.

Upon arrival

When you reach your destination and go to the car rental counter to fill out your paperwork, make sure you look at the contract and estimated bill carefully. By this time, you should know exactly what each fee is for and what you will not need, but if there is any question, make sure you ask. The casher will probably try to get you to spend as much as they possibly can.Don’t fall for their sales tactics. Make sure they give you the facts, and then you can make your own judgment. Only you will know if you need extra insurance or a GPS system in the car, so don’t let them trick you into paying for something you don’t need. Before you leave, double check with the clerk that you have unlimited mileage. It probably won’t save you money initially, but if you are only allowed to drive a certain number of miles, the fees they charge you at the end of your trip could really hit your budget hard.

Take care while driving

While you are on your trip, you may figure out that you really don’t need a rental car. Paying for parking alone could cost you a lot more than you expected, and many places in large cities provide public transportation. You may decide that it will not be necessary or practical for you to keep the car after a few days. Research the early return policy of the company, preferably before you even rent the car, and see if the cost and convenience of keeping the rental car outweigh the expense it would take to return it early. My final piece of advice is a bit obvious, but worth saying none the less. You should always fill up the car before you return it to the rental car company. Some companies require this anyway, while others say that it will not be necessary, but those who say you shouldn’t fill up the tank will probably charge you a fee way higher than the amount it would cost you to buy a few gallons of gas. Renting a car can be a confusing and expensive experience, but if you research the terms and stay informed, you can definitely save yourself some cash.

About the author: Beth Montgomery is an author who writes articles for her company. They strive to inform the general public about personal finance and credit options.

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