Whether you’re traveling to another state or another country, you may want to rent a car. Renting a car in an unfamiliar location can feel like you’re learning to drive all over again. Every state has its own rules of the road and driving-related laws, and that especially goes for other countries. If you’re going to be renting a car during your next travel experience, the following are some general things to know and keep in mind, particularly if you haven’t done it before.
What to Know If You’re a Young Driver
If you’re a young driver, specifically a driver under the age of 25, you’re going to have to pay more to rent a car in almost all cases. Sometimes the fees for being a younger driver are more than the car rental itself, so be aware of this. Additionally, you will need your driver’s license and a credit card when you get to the rental counter. You can’t bring a photocopy of your license, and in most cases, you also can’t use a prepaid credit card for a car rental.
You Don’t Have to Book At the Airport
When you’re traveling, you may think your only real option to rent a car is to do so at the airport. When you do that, there are going to be a lot of other people doing the same thing. This can leave you waiting in long lines, and there are more opportunities for things to go wrong when there are crowds involved. You may also pay more, particularly in added-on fees, when you rent at the airport. If you can rent outside of the airport, you can save time and money in some cases, but you do need to do some research before deciding whether or not it’s the most economical choice. For example, if you rent away from the airport, you need to take into consideration the cost and time that comes with getting to the rental facility.
Call to Confirm
If you rent a car online, and especially if you rent through a travel search engine, you might not be booking a car. When you’re booking online, call the company to confirm that not only you will have a rental waiting for you but also that it’s the vehicle you’re expecting. If you ever read reviews of car rental companies, you will likely see plenty of unhappy customers because they didn’t get what they expected when they got to the desk. While calling the rental company isn’t going to guarantee you won’t run into some customer service issues, it can reduce the likelihood.
Learn a Little About Driving In Your Destination Before You Get There
While you’re not going to be able to learn every nuance of driving in a particular location before you rent a car, it can be a good idea to try to at least learn some of the biggest things. Read up on blogs or posts from other travelers who have driven in the area to give yourself an idea of what to expect so you’re not entirely blindsided after you rent a car.
Don’t Prepay for Gas
If you’ve never rented a car before, you may be tempted to prepay for gas, but don’t. Rental agencies charge you a significantly higher amount to fill up the car’s gas tank than what you will pay if you just do it at a nearby gas station. Try to leave yourself time to fill up, so you don’t have to pay extra, and you can use an app to locate the nearest gas stations.
Saving Money on a Car Rental
Regardless of your destination, renting a car can end up being pricey, but there are things you can do to save money. First, a good perk of booking online is the ability to lock-in a rate, but do follow the tip listed above and make sure you call the company to follow-up and confirm your reservation. You may be able to sign up for a loyalty program with the company you’re reserving from which can save you money. Your credit card company may also have some car rental companies they work with to offer cardholders discounts. Finally, you don’t need to double-up on insurance. Check your auto insurance policy as well as what’s offered by your credit card company before you accept and pay for additional insurance from the car rental company.
Photo by Matthew T Rader