Renting a car can save you some serious cash when traveling, especially if you know when to book, what rental add-ons to take advantage of, and which ones to avoid. By planning in advance, you can save money by avoiding spontaneous decisions at the check-out counter.
First things first: do you need to pick up your car during the week or can you pick it up on a weekend? Weekends are the best days to rent a car because most people are traveling during the week.
Second, figure out the cheapest location to pick up your rental. Airport car rentals are notoriously more expensive because of the convenience factor, so if you can find a location within a mile or two of the airport, it may be worth it to get a ride share or airport shuttle to the location. You’ll need to price out the difference in cost between the two car rental locations to see if it’s worth the money for the extra travel.
Once you find the rental location, vehicle, and price your company feels comfortable paying, it’s time to figure out what add-ons are worth the money and which ones you can say no to.
Rental Car Insurance
Contact your car insurance company before you make your rental reservation. Explain where you will be traveling, for how long, how many drivers you will have, etc. Your insurance company can advise you on if they cover you internationally, or if it’s best to get extra rental insurance through the rental company of another third-party.
Car rental companies are counting on you not wanting to lug a car seat or two throughout a busy airport, so they offer a daily fee to use one of theirs. And that price can add up.
You may wonder how you ever sat through atrocious radio ads before subscribing to satellite radio in your personal vehicle. Car rental companies are counting on you wanting to use this service in your rental car. Instead of opting for this pricey add-on though, consider the free TuneIn Radio app, which offers hundreds of sports, news, music, and podcast options.
Rental car companies want to track how many miles you drive the car—and if you go over the mileage you state on your contract, you’ll pay a pretty penny for it! If you select an unlimited mileage rental car, the price you pay to drive 10 miles or 1,000 miles is the same – you won't have to keep track of your mileage allowance or risk paying more. This makes sense for long-distance trips.
Adding a Second Driver
It makes sense if you’re traveling with someone you want to take turns driving. However, rental car companies charge anywhere from $5-$10/daily for an extra driver—more if that second driver is under age 25. Just remember the driver or drivers on the contract of the car are the ones responsible for it. Don’t let someone else take the wheel if your name is the only one on the contract.
Almost all rental cars have trackers put on them by their company. It's done to secure their cars and track customers who do not return vehicles on time or at all. Usually, companies use trackers with wireless Global Positioning System (GPS) service. The convenience and efficiency of GPS-based navigation systems make them a compelling add-on when traveling in unfamiliar areas, and rental companies are more than happy to cater to their customer base by offering portable units for rental for up to $15 per day. However, if you own a smartphone (and let’s face it, most of us do) there are tons of free apps that provide the same service. Say no to this add-on!
It’s absolutely imperative you return your rental car with a full tank of gas. Rental car companies can charge you triple the cost of fuel you’d pay at any gas station. To avoid paying a fuel charge when returning a rental car full of gas, take a picture of the gas gauge when you return the rental car as well as the gas receipt. Make sure your receipt picture shows the gas station address, the number of gallons purchased, and the total cost. It will prove that you purchased fuel before returning the rental vehicle. Whatever fuel was used to drive a few miles from the gas station to the rental car company should not cost you extra fees.
Traveling for work and need to add a rental car to your lodging reservation? With CLC’s full travel management solution, you can easily rent a car and view reservation details for your upcoming trip. You can also continue to earn rewards for flights and rental cars when you add existing loyalty programs when you book your business trip. Become a CLC Lodging Member today - it’s free.