Between car shortages and increased travel, renting a car has become more difficult and more expensive. If you’re renting a car, try some of these cost-saving tips.
As soon as you think you need a rental car, book it. With low inventory and high prices, reserving a car early will ensure vehicle availability at usually the lowest price. Most car rental companies offer reasonable cancellation and refund policies, but be sure to read the terms and conditions before finalizing your reservation. Then, before your trip, check car rental rates regularly to make sure you’re still getting the best deal.
Websites like AutoSlash will let you know if your current booking can be booked at a lower rate with the same agency.
Airport convenience may cost more
If you’re flying to your destination, it’s convenient to pack your suitcase and walk to the car rental agency at the airport. But this convenience can come at a cost. Check if renting a car in a nearby neighborhood is cheaper. You might find that taking a taxi or car service to the off-airport car rental location will save you a lot of money off your daily rate. Most of the time, there is no supplement for the return of the car to the airport.
Membership has its privileges
Many warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s offer special rates or benefits, such as a free extra driver for their members. The same goes for other organizations such as AAA, AARP, USAA or some credit card companies. So it makes sense to check with individual car rental agencies and your other affiliations for the best rate and benefits.
Spotlight on rental car insurance
Have you ever felt the spotlight was on you when the car rental employee offered you Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and Loss Waiver (LDW)? Are you starting to get nervous because you don’t know if you should buy this protection which considerably increases your car rental costs? !
The CDW covers you in the event of a collision, while the LDW covers any loss suffered by the rental company. Both coverages are required, but not if you duplicate the coverage provided in your personal insurance policy.
- Most insurance policies provide liability coverage if you injure someone in an accident and cover rental car damage through comprehensive coverage and collision coverage. Check your policy or call your insurance agent to verify coverage before purchasing additional insurance.
- If you rent the car with a credit card, your card provider may pay for damage to the vehicle associated with an accident. Check with your card company ahead of time to make sure.
- Also confirm that your personal auto insurance or credit card covers “loss of use”. The car rental company charges these fees to cover the loss of revenue when the vehicle is out of service, which is becoming increasingly important in this tight rental car market. This is a classic case of “know before you go”.
Rental car condition
Depending on the car rental location, the employee may walk around the car with you and note any stains or damage to the car. Whether there is an employee present or not, be sure to take video or multiple photos of any damage to the vehicle, so that you are not charged for damage to the vehicle that you did not cause.
fill it up
Car rental companies often reduce the cost of gas with an initial purchase. But that’s rarely a good deal for you. Are you sure you want to drive around an unfamiliar city on 1/8 tank of gas to save a few bucks? I did not mean it. Better to fill it yourself. Yes, gas stations are more expensive around the airport, but you can fill up the day before and fill up closer to the airport.
Use apps like GasBuddy to find the best gas prices near you. Whatever you do, don’t show up with an empty gas tank if it’s supposed to be full. The price of a gallon of gasoline charged by the rental car company on the way back is very expensive.
If you’re planning on hitting the road soon, use a few of these smart tips to save your rental car. Book now, check prices frequently, leverage your memberships, know your insurance coverage before you go, and fuel up. Happy travels and happy returns!
Meredith Carbrey, CFP, is a Senior Wealth Advisor at Bedel Financial Consulting, Inc., an Indianapolis-based wealth management firm. For more information, visit their website at www.bedelfinancial.com or email Meredith at email@example.com