6 Costly Car Rental Mistakes

Road trips can put a lot of extra miles on your personal vehicle. For this reason, many travelers opt to rent a car. To avoid spending a fortune, be sure to do some research ahead of time.

Here are six costly car rental mistakes to avoid.

Mistake #1: Not comparing rates online

It’s now easier than ever to rent a car. However, don’t choose the first deal that comes your way. The best approach is to shop around. By going online, you’ll be able to compare rates. Sites, such as Skyscanner.com and Priceline.com, will enable you to clearly see who has the best bargain.

However, pay close attention to the extra fees. If you plan to travel a long distance, select a rental company that offers unlimited mileage. This will you enable to ride without worrying about exceeding a mileage cap. You should also keep an eye out for special incentives.

At various times of the year, some companies will allow you to upgrade to a better car for no extra cost. Taking advantage of discount and coupon codes will save you even more cash.

Mistake #2: Buying extra insurance that you don’t need

It’s never a good idea to purchase unnecessary stuff. Buying insurance from the rental provider could prove to be a waste. To avoid making a bad decision, contact your insurance company to find out if you needed additional coverage.

Upon arriving at the rental agency, expect to be offered a loss damage waiver. In the event that the vehicle gets damaged, it eliminates you from being held responsible for the cost of repairs. While signing up for the loss damage waiver may seem like a good idea at first, a lot of drivers may not even need it. If you pay for the rental using a credit card, you’re likely already protected. Keep in mind that the cost of the waiver is often more than $30 a day.

Mistake #3: Failing to do a pre-rental inspection

Understandably, many travelers are eager to hit the road after getting their rental. Don’t allow the excitement of your upcoming trip cost you extra money. To avoid being charged for damage you didn’t cause, be sure to perform a pre-rental inspection before driving away. This simple step will give you an extra peace of mind.

Closely examine the car’s exterior for defects such as scratches and dents. On the inside, be on the lookout for stained upholstery and tears in the seats. As soon as you spot an issue, alert the staff immediately. Taking the time to snap a few photos is well worth it. Remember, even a small blemish could increase your bill by hundreds of dollars.

Mistake #4: Prepaying for gas

Never make the mistake of prepaying the rental company for fuel. Although refueling the tank yourself may require a little more effort, it’ll benefit you financially. You’ll be charged more for the convenience of driving off the lot with a full tank of gas, so expect the cost per gallon to be noticeably higher. Although the local price of fuel may be $2.99 a gallon, you could be charged more than double by the rental agency.

Remember, the rental car company’s main goal is to maximize its profits. Simply decline the company’s pre-pay fuel option.

Mistake #5: Paying extra for GPS or a car seat

When renting a vehicle, be sure to provide your own accessories. You certainly don’t want to borrow certain items from the rental company. If you have children, always remember to bring their car seats. Rental agencies charge an average of $12.50 per day for car seats. You should also consider the unknown safety of their child seats.

GPS is yet another popular add-on fee. Many of today’s smartphone have built-in navigation, which eliminates the need to purchase a separate GPS device. Despite the rapid advancement of modern technology, a traditional road map is still an effective guide.

Mistake #6: Not returning the car on time

Make it a point to return your rental car on schedule. Bringing back the vehicle late will cause the rental company to take more of your hard-earned cash. While some agencies are nice enough to provide a 29-minute grace period, others are especially stern. Some providers will even charge you a full day’s late fee just for being late an hour.

In order to avoid the expensive penalties, you may need to fine-tune your time management skills. If possible, choose a rental company that has a night drop-off service. This enables you to return the vehicle at any given time of the day. Although the agency may be closed for the holidays, you’ll still be able to leave the vehicle.

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