Going to car rentals have now become an increasingly common alternative for most people. Even those who have dependable cars of their own usually find renting a special make of vehicle for certain special occasions an attractive and convenient option. For instance, when you want to take a long drive to the country side, you may want to rent a tough, rugged SUV rather than use the family car. Or when you want to make a good impression with certain very important people in connection with a very important business deal, you may want to rent a top-of-the line premium model of a car at Hertz for that appointed expensive dinner date with the client. Or it may be that you’re moving to a new apartment and there’s no way you can fit everything inside your sedan so you really have to rent a moving truck from Enterprise or Budget instead.
But whatever your reasons, there are however certain thing you should not do when renting a vehicle. Among them are:
Not returning the rented vehicle with a full tank of gasoline.
Car rental companies typically require that the rented vehicle be returned with a full tank of gasoline. Otherwise, they will charge a fee to refill the tank.
Not inspecting well enough before you accept, as well as before you return, the rented vehicle.
Both before signing the rental contract and before returning the rented car, make sure you inspect for any dent, loose or missing parts, mechanical problems and the like. If you can, make a photo or video record of a potential evidence in case you do get into a dispute over alleged damage with your rental company.
On top of the baseline daily rental rate, it is standard practice for car rental companies to charge extra for prepaid gasoline, GPS navigation systems, roof racks, infant and child seat rentals, among other extras. These additional daily charges and fees will naturally be included to your final total bill so if you can, do bring along your own car accessories and fill the tank yourself.
Accepting the insurance offer for the rented vehicle without checking first whether your own car insurance policy already covers rental reimbursement.
Before accepting the insurance option offer from the rental agent, check first with your insurance agent whether your personal car insurance policy has comprehensive or full coverage, which should already include protection for a rented vehicle in cases of accident.
Not comparing car rental companies beforehand.
Just choosing one which offers the cheapest rental rate for the make of vehicle you’re after is usually not the best way to shop around for a car rental company. If you’re transacting with the dealer by phone or online, you could fall prey to the ‘bait-and-switch’ tactics favored by some unscrupulous car rental companies. Here, when you arrive expecting to get the car you you selected, you are presented instead with a much more inferior make of the same vehicle brand. Worse, you could even be handed a car that’s not been properly cleaned yet or one that’s not been regularly maintained at all. One way to make sure you don’t get taken advantage of, especially if you’re new in town, is by consulting the reviews written by past customers on TripAdvisor and similar sites. Then, there is also CarRentalExpress, an online tool which shows the customer ratings of car rental companies in the specified area on such categories as ‘promptness of service’, ‘vehicle satisfaction’ and ‘rate quote honored’, among others.
Making a reservation when you know you have a less than stellar driving record.
Even if you have already made a reservation online or by phone, ready yourself for a rejection once you get to the dealer’s office if you already know that you have some citations back home for reckless driving, drunk driving and other such blemishes on your driving record. Most reputable car rentals do make some background checking on their would-be customers.
Forgetting to consider that you may have to be sharing driving rights.
If you’re traveling in a group and all or some of you may have to take turns in driving the rented vehicle, you will have to name the additional drivers on the rental contract aside from your own. Of course, this will also correspondingly raise the rental price for the use of the vehicle. Some companies though, like Enterprise and Budget, will allow the renter’s spouse or domestic partner to drive the rented vehicle at no additional cost within certain locations.
Not taking into account that car rentals in airport locations cost more.
Despite the convenience, you’ll pay additional for the airport charges, including concession recovery fees, customer facility charges, among others. If you’re traveling light, consider renting your vehicle at a non-airport location.
Disregarding possible discounts and upgrade opportunities.
If you are a frequent traveler affiliated with AARP, AAA or other travel organizations, your membership perks may include discounts in some car rental companies. Also, if you’re renting at a time when the lower-priced cars are in such heavy demand, the rental companies might offer upgrades at bargain rates.
Not returning the rented vehicle on time.
Car rental companies also typically charge extra fees if you return the vehicle behind the time and date in your rental contract.