How to Save When Renting a Car

Planning & Saving
on August 8, 2012

Car rental can be an expensive element of an out of town trip. Whether your travel is business based or purely recreational, the final cost of your rental can be much more than you imagined, making it important to consider your reservation and plans in advance. If your budget is limited, you need to know the details of your agreement well in order to avoid unexpected costs. Additionally, you can take a number of precautions in order to limit your expenses in renting a vehicle.

Price Comparisons

It’s important to research rental prices in advance. Before you make a reservation, know what the pricing is. It might seem straightforward, and certainly, calling a company and asking about pricing will lead to specific quotes for different vehicles. However, there are many comparison websites to consider using, some of which will surprise you in that the pricing is not consistent. Choice of company will lead to different pricing for renting like makes and models. However, the same company may have different pricing for a class of vehicle from one comparison site to another. Thorough research entails a multiple comparison survey of your expected car and various rental agencies. You can spend time in advance rather than spending excess money later.

Don’t forget to explore rate packages. Whereas a daily rate can mount quickly, many agencies provide weekly or monthly rental rates. Explore these options and consider a weekly rental when it is more cost effective than a couple of days’ rental fees.

Rental Location

Taking time to research rental agencies may lead you to compare different companies. However, it’s also wise to research different locations for the same agency. For example, if your airport rental location is not consistently priced with a non-airport location, then you may want to invest in further research. This is more appropriate if your travels will take you to a metropolitan area that is serviced by multiple locations of rental agencies. In smaller towns with limited airport facilities, your options will be limited more to airport rental agencies.

Don’t restrict your thinking to rental agency options. Many car dealerships have discovered that there is a benefit in acting as a source of rental vehicles. If your dealership at home has a rewards system, then you may be able to take advantage of loyalty discounts and pricing when you travel. This type of research will be more intensive, but it may be more rewarding.

Time of Rental

During business travels, you may not have the luxury of deciding the dates of travel. However, in the case of a leisure trip it’s important to realize that seasonal activity can affect car rental rates. In order to save, it’s helpful to plan your travel for off-season times. Additional time considerations include your rental period. A matter of a few hours in turn in time can lead to an extra day’s charges. Plan your pick up and drop off times so that you don’t erroneously exceed the allotted time for your rate.

Amount of Travel

Using a rental car seems straight forward. However, your daily charges aren’t the only potential costs you can incur. The number of miles driven during your rental can translate into extra charges if you exceed a defined limit. Explore these limits in advance so that you don’t face surprises at the end of your rental period. Consider the times and places you plan to travel with your rental, and budget in advance. Additionally, make sure that you consider costs on fuel charges. It may be more of a savings to refuel on your own rather than to return a vehicle with a partly full tank.

Bare Basics

Many additional charges can be added to your bill because you opt for extras. Perhaps you will decide to use a luxury car. Perhaps you will add insurance to your package. Each little extra can lead to an unexpectedly high bill. Keep things simple by foregoing the extras. Use the simplest vehicle needed and the most basic rental package available.

Perks and Points

Make the most of your rental by using points or corporate perks rewards. Travel points on credit cards, for example, often include car rentals. Earning a percentage of your costs back can be helpful in keeping overall trip costs down. Some reward options include extra discounts in the pricing of your package. Loyalty programs for air travel companies can also include savings on rentals. Explore all of your possible reward options in order to decide on the most valuable plan.

Your need for a car can be a fun opportunity to rent a new car to dive for a short time. However, your indulgence in unnecessary extras or upgrades can lead to unexpected costs. Take time to research first, asking questions in order to clarify the hidden costs and policies of your rental agency prospects.

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