How many of us rent a car when we travel? Whether it’s for solo travel, a business trip or a family vacation. Renting a car is often part of the holiday equation, however, despite there being so many rental car agencies out there including the availability of cars at airports around the globe you would think that the process of renting a car is fairly straight forward, and most of all very transparent. Book a car online, go to the agency at the airport (or alternative locations), pick up your vehicle and off you go. Well, the truth is that it’s not that transparent. There are so many questions that still come up. Things like car insurance, fuel costs, the number of kilometers you are allowed to drive, the “bad” agencies trying to claim damages, driving into another country, all the extras the car agencies offer. The same questions over and over and over again.
So we at myCiity decided to consolidate a full list for you in regards to renting a car and what you don’t need to do, or better yet, things you should not even do because you really don’t need too.
First off, never, we repeat, never rent any car without checking what type of gasoline charges you are going to incur. If you use a comparison site, always filter for gasoline type “full/full.” Never, ever take any other type of rental.
You see, car companies earn a lot when you utilize other forms of gasoline charges, like prepaid (full/empty). It may seem convenient for you as a traveler. You get to the airport, pick up a fully tanked car and then bring it back without having the hassle to stop at a gas station and fill her up. Well, in most cases the amount the car companies charge ahead of time for this option is more than what you would pay for if you tank on your own. And quite frankly, who doesn’t just want to drive back, leave the car and make sure they get to their flight on time? Think about it, even if the tank is still half full, the car company charges you for a full tank. They do not reimburse you!
You’ll find that at the desk of many car agencies this is one option they push hard on because they earn money. The price of the rent may seem intriguing because its extremely low, hence the other conditions such as prepaid gasoline charges seem interesting because off the bat we figure that it ends up being less expensive overall. Do not be tricked.
Always utilize the “full/full” option, plan ahead and tank up on your own.
When it comes to tanking up, rental agencies are very meticulous. You can’t expect to find a gas station 100km away from the airport, fill up the tank and drive the car back. That bit of gas will be charged in full. So this tip is vital. Make sure that you know ahead of time where a gas station nearby the rental agency is without you having to go off in zigzags just to reach one. Ask at airport information or a local where you can find a gas station nearby, or alternatively do a search online. Typically there is at least one gas station near an airport somewhere.
Hence, figure this out before anything else. Either prior to even arriving at your destination, during the process of picking up your rental car, or shortly after. Do not leave this as a last minute thing the morning you need to drop off the car and run to catch your flight. This way you are prepared and not pressed for time.
Insurance: Point 1
This tip is not a given, so be sure to check ahead of time. Auto insurances vary greatly depending on your country of origin, the country you are traveling too, and a variety of other factors. However, do check with your personal car insurance provider if the coverage you have covers any part of a rental car. While many insurances policies vary, you’ll be surprised that often your personal car insurance has some form of legal coverage for rental cars as well. This is most certainly the case if you have a “full coverage” for your personal car. All it takes is a phone call or an email to your insurance provider to make the check.
The reason many insurance companies do this if you have full coverage, is because the main vehicle you have insured extends the insurance to a rental vehicle because the rental is often considered a replacement vehicle. This doesn’t mean that your car needs to be broken or in the workshop, all it means is that the policy extends beyond your car as long as you are the driver.
This is also true even if the car you are renting is a higher class car than what you own. Hence, don’t be afraid of any upgrades you may receive if you are lucky enough to get one from the car rental agency.
On top this it is important to note that, albeit having insurance, if you do have any accidents or damage claims with your rental car under your personal policy than this will generally raise your rates since you need to make a claim on your own insurance policy.
So be careful and just check with your current provider.
Insurance: Point 2
Tied closely with the above point, should your personal auto insurance cover damages, etc. but perhaps not everything then you may be in luck. Our tip number 2 is to check with your credit card provider. In most cases, your credit card, should you have used it during the booking process, will cover as much or often even better in regards to the insurance policy then your personal one. Don’t make full use of it thought. It’s more of a “backup” than anything else. Nonetheless, you can rest assured that should anything happen, your credit card company’s policy may just cover whatever the claims are.
Note: Just to point out again, you need to use the card in booking the rental!
Loss of Use Insurance
Should your rental car be damaged to the point where it needs to go into the workshop for repairs and is no longer usable than often the car rental agency will apply the “loss of use” charges. Often these charges amount to the general amount of days worth for that specific vehicle. In other words, if the car is 90 Euros per day, the “loss of use” charges will be 90 Euros for each day it is “off the road” due to damages. It is important to note that most auto insurance companies do not cover this charge and should that be the case for your rental, the fees can increase significantly.
The reason we bring this up is not that you need to panic, but because many credit card companies do cover this charge. American Express, Mastercard and Visa often offer the “loss of use” coverage, again, just like the above point if you paid for the rental with their specific card. (Please make sure to check whether or not your specific credit card has this included when booking a rental)
We recommend not avoiding any offers for upgrades, considering that the upgrade is priced well. Our tip is to reserve a car in a lower priced tier to the one you actually would like to get and then once you arrive to ask at the rental desk if there is the possibility to upgrade. This typically works well during busy hours, because people tend to want to rent the cheapest cars available. And if you show up during peak hours with all the cars gone or your class running low, then the rental agency may offer you one of two deals.
- First, they may offer you a free upgrade
- Second, they may offer you an upgrade to the next higher class for near to nothing
The reason for this is that you asked about it. Don’t expect the agent to tell you. They see that you are interested and potentially, for the rental agency to avoid further inventory management issues may just offer you a great upgrade deal. Regardless of what the front desk agent may say, they are typically entitled to make that decision discretely on their own, knowing their companies rules and rate. So in case you are offered an upgrade to a larger car, do not turn it down, just ask the price difference. If there is none, great, if there is and it is not even 20 euros more, then go for it.
Don’t ever just take the word of the desk agent when they give you the key that everything is good. Meaning, don’t just drive off. When you get your keys and reach your vehicle, take a few moments to inspect it and check it inside and out. Make sure that any current damages are already on the form you have received and if you have any suspicions at all, call the agent in the drop off area (the person that collects the vehicles), as they are often responsible for the damage checks and make sure they note down anything you come across.
By anything, we mean anything – scratches, dents, loose parts, windows, mirrors, etc. Just because pick up service may be friendly, doesn’t mean that when you return the car they will be just as nice. Car companies earn money when they note down a dent and have you pay the bill even if you didn’t cause it because it wasn’t noted before you left. The assumption is, it wasn’t there before, now it is.
So this tip is all about taking the time to check. Take a few photos for any damages already there, perhaps even a video, and check everything including the tires.
If possible, never leave the dropping off of your car outside the opening times, when there is no agent to check the car, unless perhaps the case that you have full insurance coverage. Just like a hotel, you arrive outside the normal operating hours, park the car, drop the key off in some box and head off to your flight, may seem convenient. However, the problem is that during this procedure you will often come across a claim the car company makes against you. Since no one was there to check it off, it’s your word against the agent that does the checking. So who wins!?
Take photos if that is your only choice or make a video and do another slow walk around the car to double check for anything.
Never drive across a border, unless it’s in your car rental agreement (you can often pay for this as an extra should you want to drive outside the country you are renting) and secondly check the car insurance policy to make sure it covers any damages in the country you are crossing into. Hence, the easiest insurance policy is often via your credit card issuer as their policies are borderless, but always check just to make sure.
Don’t assume that no one will know. Should you breach your contract and your license plate is scanned, you’ll have quite some issues.
These are but a few tips in regards to the things you should be careful not to do when you rent a car. This doesn’t mean you need to panic about every little detail. Just make sure to read the small print, understand what and whom you are renting from, do your homework and in most cases everything should go just fine.
Either way, what have your experiences been in renting cars. Are any of the above points valid for you or is anything missing off this list? Let us know in the comment below. We would appreciate a thumbs up and a share on your favorite social network. Sharing is caring.