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Rental Cars: Scoring Some Vacation Wheels

Flying to destination cities for your upcoming vacation may seem like a flawless idea. And, in most ways, it is. However, unless you plan on cabbing it around town the entire time you’re there, you’d better consider renting a car. We know…it’s a frustrating endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be! By understanding the various elements of the rental industry, you can find an affordable rental without getting taken on the extra “add ons” that usually frustrate travelers. Yes, insurance, we’re talking about you…

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We aren’t here to waste time talking about the various websites that pair would-be travelers with airline tickets, hotel rooms, and rental cars. We all have Google. We can figure it out. But, instead, let’s stay with the insurance talk for a moment. We’ve all been at the counter, with a few people waiting behind us, when the rental concierge says, “Would you like insurance?” Um…uh…a million things run through our minds, right? What if I crash the vehicle? What if someone hits me? Will I be liable for injuries and damage? To help you get the information you need, we’ve included some resources that should help you avoid the uncomfortable pause, as everyone behind you sighs, waiting for you to ‘hurry up’:

So, with insurance out of the way, let’s move on…

Posted Pricing

Before we get into pricing, we encourage you to check out this fantastic article from the New York Times, involving some tests that the author ran to find great pricing on rental cars:

What we found interesting in this particular article was the various techniques that the author touched on regarding the posted pricing of rentals. Some companies can rely on size alone and post the price ‘front and center’ for the entire world to see. Others may need some extra leverage, which means that they’ll post a price that doesn’t include taxes and fees, in an attempt to acquire your business. Are they being malicious? Well, not exactly, but they aren’t entirely innocent either. Our advice: follow through to the “checkout” menu to find the actual price before notating the quote that a company is providing.

Have the Necessary Documentation

So, let’s say that you’ve just strolled up to the counter after flying in from out of town. You’re ready to get your rental, check into the hotel, and take a shower – after all, it was a long flight. The representative says, “Great, Mr. Kennedy. Now, if we can just get your birth certificate, we’ll be in great shape…” Wait, what? Ok, so we’re exaggerating, as you likely won’t be asked for a birth certificate, but what are you going to do if you’re asked for something you don’t have? Go back and get it? Not a chance. While each company is different, we’re going to include some links that may give you a better idea of the documentation necessary to rent a car. Again, we want to reiterate that what is found below may be VERY different from what your particular rental company requires.

When signing your rental agreement, be sure to read up on all of the particulars regarding returning the vehicle. If they charge you for gas, you can be sure that it won’t be the cheapest price per gallon in town. Small things like this can take a tool on your vacation budget, so read up, be prepared, and enjoy your trip!

This segment from HowDini is a great resource for those that would like to learn more…
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