A rental car gives you great flexibility on any trip, the freedom to go where you choose and to see all the sights or attractions that are on your to-list. We have compiled our top tips on renting a car for your trip, you can read through our questions below and answer them in relation to your trip before you book your rental car.
- 1 What type of rental car do you want?
- 2 Where do you want to pick up and drop off your Rental Car?
- 3 Which Rental Car Fuel Policy is the Best?
- 4 Where are you planning to go with your rental car?
- 5 Do you need to buy car rental insurance?
- 6 What extras do you need with your rental car?
- 7 When should you book your rental car?
- 8 Share this:
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What type of rental car do you want?
It sounds like an easy question but actually, it cuts down on a lot of work if you know what size and type of car you want before you book. Are you traveling alone or with a family and kids? Do you need a small car for city driving and want to park easily, or a big SUV for a more adventurous trip!
Other factors to consider are that petrol cars seem to be cheaper than diesel options, the manual is cheaper than automatic, and hybrid is usually the most expensive. Exceptions to this are that in America most cars are automatic and in Nordic counties, many cars are electronic as standard.
Where do you want to pick up and drop off your Rental Car?
The price of your rental car will vary dramatically depending on what pick up location you choose. I find airports offer better value than city center locations, as there is a lot more competition at an airport and that benefits us, the customer! However, within the airport itself, there are usually a few different pickup options including “terminal” pick up or “shuttle bus” service, which means that you are either getting your car directly in the airport, or you need to travel by a free bus service to an off-site location. There is usually a premium price on the terminal pick up. Also, one-way car rentals are more expensive than picking up and dropping off in the same location. For these rentals, always look at the bigger brands for better value.
Top tips on renting a car: If you want to save money on your rental car, then our top tip is to take the extra time getting on the shuttle bus and head to the offsite location.
Which Rental Car Fuel Policy is the Best?
Rental car fuel policies can be confusing, but the main categories are as follows: –
Full to Full: You get a car with a full tank and then have to refuel before you return it. This to me is the most straight forward option.
Half Full to Half Full (or Quarter Full to Quarter Full): You get the car half (or quarter) full and have to return it half (or quarter) full. I always find this annoying as I never know how much fuel to fill up with that the tank will be exactly half (or quarter) full and you could be penalized for too little fuel in your dropped off car.
Full to Empty: You get the car with a full tank, the cost of the fuel is either included in the price of the rental or sometimes, they ask you to pay for the fuel at the check-in desk. You then return the car empty. If your tank is not empty, then you lose the value of the fuel that is in the tank.
Top tips on renting a car: Our top tip is to go with the Full to Full policy unless you have a good reason to choose one of the others.
Where are you planning to go with your rental car?
Another important question to answer before you book your rental is, where are you planning to go in the car? Are you staying in one particular State, or are you planning to cross border travel? If you are traveling over a border or into other states, there could be restrictions or fees to be paid on the rental in advance.
Top tips on renting a car: Be up front with the car rental provider about where you are taking the car or read the terms and conditions of your booking carefully to ensure you understand what is permitted.
Do you need to buy car rental insurance?
This is a question that is not so easily answered. Let´s look at it in two parts;
Firstly, are you an American renting a car in America? If yes, then often your own auto insurance policy may cover collision damage and even personal liability for a rental car. We recommend calling your insurance provider to check what is covered. Also, many credit cards and travel credit cards provide secondary CDW that will help after your primary insurance.
If you are not American, then the rules for rental car insurance are often quite different. Most rental cars come with Collision Waiver Damage insurance and a level of personal accident insurance, but with an excess on the policy, which the company holds as insurance on your credit card for the duration of your rental. So, how do you avoid a car rental excess? Excess insurance policies are available to buy at the check-in desk or online from 3rd parties. Buying excess insurance directly from the car rental company is often more expensive, although in the event of an accident, you don’t have to do anything, they take care of it all. With a 3rd party online insurance policy, you would pay the excess yourself, and claim it back from them at a later date.
If you are still confused by all the letters the car rental companies use to explain insurance terms, then pop over to our friend Wikipedia, where the terms are explained quite simply.
I think when it comes to extra insurance our top tip is to know what you yourself are comfortable with, do you want to pay for excess insurance or risk paying the excess in the event of an accident.
What extras do you need with your rental car?
Nowadays booking a rental car is getting as complicated as booking an airline ticket, they are so many extras on offer, that it can be difficult to decide what to take or not to take, these include Child Seats, GPS, Additional Driver, and a Ski or Snow package.
Look at the various car rental special offers available on comparison websites so that you can find a car rental company offering something like a “free additional driver” offer and this will definitely save you money on your rental. Websites like Car Booker compare all the car rentals in one location and have a special offer section on their search engine, so you can see if there is anything available to suit you.
When should you book your rental car?
Like with an airline booking, you will find all the best deals online before you fly. My general rule of thumb is to book my flight and then my rental car straight after. The closer you get to the pickup date, the more the prices increase, and if you look to book with 24 hours of your pick up time, expect to pay a premium price as the prices rocket for short notice bookings.
And our absolute top tips on renting a car are to book as early as possible and don’t walk up to the car rental desk!