Rent-A-Car: Seven Tips to Reduce Stress

November 29, 2013

If you’re traveling and need to rent a car, you may be able to save yourself from a few aggravations and a bit of money with a little bit of research before heading to the rental counter next holiday.

Do Your Research First

Find out how much these companies charge and whether they have age restrictions. Will there be fees based on your age (for those under 25)? What is their rental process? What exactly do you need to have when you’re ready to rent a car at a specific company? If you’ve done your research and know the answers to these questions, it may save you time, aggravation, even money when you go to pick up a vehicle.

Estimate Your Mileage Ahead of Time

Do you need to prepay for gas? If the prepaid deal includes the upper limit of what you expect to drive during your trip, whether for business or pleasure, and prices are high, this might be worth considering. But watch out: if you don’t plan to drive much during your trip, you may be better off without it, no matter how much the company says you’ll benefit.

Find Out About Insurance Requirements

Car rental companies often offer insurance as part of the rental package. It varies, depending on the vehicle model you’re renting, the age of the driver and the company you choose. This comes as an added cost, and you may be able to get around it, depending on your own car insurance coverage. If you use a credit card to reserve your rental car, you may have some protection under that credit agreement as well, although not all credit card companies offer this service.

Compare Rates and Ask About Discounts

The various companies charge different rates to use their vehicles. There are a variety of factors that go into those rates – the location, the length of a rental and the estimated mileage of the rental are just three factors. You may be able to find discounts on individual car rental company web sites. If you don’t see a specific discount, be sure to ask at the counter if they offer any discounts. You may also find discounts through membership companies like AAA or the AARP. These clubs often offer discounts or services that you can use in conjunction with your rental that could help lower the cost.

Reserve Your Car Early

Experts suggest that you book your vehicle rental at least a week in advance. You’ll have a better chance of getting a lower rate and the car of your choice. Renting early, if you can, helps to avoid a stressful scramble at the start of your trip. It also gives you and the rental company time to deal with any issues that may arise related to your contract.

Be Wary of Vehicle Upgrades

If you can use a smaller vehicle for your trip, it may pay off to do just that. Car rental companies often promote vehicle upgrades because smaller cars are often in high demand. The company may tell you that the upgrade to the larger vehicle is free of up front costs, but beware. Larger vehicles use more gas, and if you’ve opted for the prepaid gas option, you may end up spending more on gas than you would have if you rented a compact car.

Read Terms and Conditions Carefully

Whether you book your car online or do this in person at a rental counter, be sure to read your contract and that you understand all of the conditions before you sign it. Be sure you understand exactly what’s in the contract so that when you return the car, you aren’t hit with any surprises that you don’t understand.

These tips can help you to save time, money and your sanity as you begin your trip, wherever you may go. If you find these tips useful and are looking for more hints that could help you on your vacation or work trip, sign up at Trekeffect and get feedback regarding your destination and services that you can use during your trip.

-April Bamburg

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips & Tricks

Book your accommodations

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Shop for Travel Essentials

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Book your flight

Find cheap flights using SkyScanner. This search engine is are our favorite, making sure you get the best deal for tickets all over the world.  They are great at aggregating flights from multiple providers.  

Don't forget travel insurance

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Looking for the best companies to save money with?

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Disclosure: Some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we earn a commission if you make a purchase. We only recommend products and companies we use and the income keeps the community supported. 

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April Bamburg
April Bamburg is a freelance writer specializing in community news, travel writing, press releases and other blog posts. She dreams of traveling the world and getting lost in Italy, Turkey or even Scotland.
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