Behind the Wheel

Dummies Guide to Renting a Car

January 25, 2015
We’ve talked about all the many perks of renting a car, so now I want to get down to the specifics on how to actually go about picking up that rental and putting it to use! There are some nitty gritty details and fine print agreements that come along with renting a car, and it can be overwhelming to figure out the best option. But I’ve done all the research and I’m here to make it nice and easy for you! Whether you’re a first-timer or are just looking for a refresher, here’s my guide to renting a car: 1. Remember that you don’t actually have to be 25 to rent a car. Though some companies have an age requirement of 25, many companies allow younger people to rent cars, but simply charge those people more for their rental. If you’re under 25, check into companies like Budget for your car rental. 2. It costs more to drop off your car at a different location than you picked it up at. So, if at all possible, try to return the car to the place you rented it from. It’ll likely cost you less than the extra tank or two of gas you’ll have to buy to get there! 3. You can skip the rental insurance if you have your own adequate car insurance. Many car insurance policies include situations where you are driving a rental car, so don’t worry about paying extra for rental insurance if you have that part already covered by your everyday car insurance. The only time you’ll need it is when you don’t have car insurance or only have liability insurance. 4. Shop around for the best price. Rental car companies have greatly variable rental rates, so you’ll definitely want to shop around to find the best option. Car price can vary depending on the season, day of the week or region you are renting from, so you’ll want to figure out the most economical option. For example, car rental companies located at the airport usually cost more because of the convenience. I recommend calling at least three companies before settling on one. 5. You might not be able to pick your car. When booking a rental car, you usually only have the option of choosing a category of car, such as “mid-size sedan” or “SUV.” If you’re really set on a certain model, be sure to ask the company if you can pick out your car before putting any money down. 6. Consider all additional fees. A rental car at $15 per day may seem like a steal, but don’t forget about additional fees that need to be worked into the overall cost. For example, most rental car companies leave taxes, late fees, add-on items (like car seats and additional drivers) and insurance policies out of that initial price. 7. Don’t forget to fill the gas tank. Speaking of fees, rental car companies will charge you a hefty fee if you don’t bring the car back with a full tank of gas. So even if your trip is a whirlwind, action-packed adventure, DO NOT forget to stop at the gas station just before pulling back into the rental car parking lot!

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