Rental car tips and tricks

Salman Ahmed | 24 September 2021

Rental car tips and tricks

Rental car tips and tricks

Section: What to look for when renting a car

The rental car industry has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. You can now rent a car online, by phone, or at a lot of big-box retailers like Target. But it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into before signing on the dotted line.

Here are some tips to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible when renting a car:

Do your research. 

There are multiple websites that compare rates for different car rental companies, but there are also plenty of comparison sites that are owned by the same companies. If you pick one of these websites over another, you may end up paying more than necessary. Instead, do your homework and be sure to shop around! One of the best ways to do this is by using an online search engine like Google or Bing to compare rates from multiple websites.

Check for additional fees. 

Many rental companies charge fees if you cancel your reservation too close to your date of pickup unless you contact them first and agree to pay an early termination fee (ETF). Read through your contract carefully before agreeing to these terms so you know exactly what you're committing yourself to.

If the company offers roadside assistance, check their coverage limits before renting. Ask about any limitations on how far away they can send someone (usually 20 miles), and whether they cover gas station visits (most don’t).

Ask about insurance coverage for your personal belongings in your rental vehicle. It’s probably not included in the base price; ask about what kind of coverage options are available to upgrade to (car seats, for example).


Also, check out our post on "How to rental car"


Section: Do your homework

When renting a car, it’s important to do your homework first. Do not assume that all rental car companies are equal. You should ask yourself these questions:

Who is the company? Some companies are backed by multi-billion dollar corporations, which can afford to pay for pricey advertising campaigns that promote their brand. Other, smaller companies may offer better service at a lower price.

Do they have insurance? Even if you’re renting for just a few hours, the damage to your vehicle can be extensive. There’s no point in renting a vehicle you don’t trust to be safe. If you choose an uninsurable company, you might not be covered by your own personal auto insurance. Even if you do have coverage, the car rental company must provide its own coverage during the duration of your rental contract.

Do they accept credit cards? There are some companies that don’t accept credit cards; these can create problems when you need to make a payment at the end of the rental period (more on this later). Ensure that you pick a company that accepts credit cards before you reserve the vehicle. This is especially important if you will need to make a payment at the end of your rental contract; otherwise, there may be an unpleasant surprise waiting for you when you return the car to the rental company (more on this later too).

Section: How to get the best deal

These steps will help you get the best deal on your next rental:

Research your rental companies and check their websites to see if they have a loyalty program that rewards frequent customers. If it does, signing up for this program is another way to save money and can help you negotiate a better rate for your next rental.

Call the rental company’s customer service center before you make your reservation to see whether they offer any discounts or promotions. If they do, ask them if there are any additional fees for using the discount coupon.

When you reach out to the company, tell them you’re looking for a particular car model or make/model/year combination that is available at that time. If you can’t find what you want online, ask them if they have any cars with the features you want at that price.

If there are no specials, tell them that you found a similar car at a cheaper price elsewhere. Let them know exactly where else you found it so they can check if their cars are available at that price. It may be possible to negotiate a lower rate on the car if it’s not currently in their inventory at their website, so tell them this too.

Section: How to get the most mileage out of your rental car voucher

If you're taking a rental car on vacation, there are ways to save money and get the most mileage out of your rental voucher.


First, try to book early. This way, you can book a car with an empty tank and avoid paying for gas. However, if you wait too long, the car will likely already be rented out before you can make the final payment.


You also want to take care of any small problems with your car before you leave home. If the air conditioning works fine in the store but doesn't work when the rental car is picked up, you might need to take another ride to get it fixed. If you notice any problems with your tires or brakes that weren't mentioned in the paperwork, don't wait until then to deal with them. Taking care of minor issues before your trip helps ensure your trip is trouble-free.


Image Credit: pxhere