6 Ways to Lower Your Cost When Renting a Car

Everyone has stood in line at the car rental counter. There’s some pressure to be quick with your business and move along so the next person can be helped. During your brief time at the counter, you’re inundated with several choices, many of which are expensive. There are multiple upgrades and additional expenses that you may or may not need.

If you’ve ever been confused about which expenses are worthwhile and which expenses only serve to line the pockets of the rental companies, read on.

Save money on your car rental with these tips:

  1. Automobile insurance. This is the one added expense that seems to be pushed the most by the salesperson on the other side of the counter. Do you need it? Maybe. It’s always a good idea to call your insurance carrier and see what is and isn’t covered.
    • Then call your credit card company. Many of them include a certain amount of coverage when you use your card to pay the rental fee.
    • Roadside assistance is another related fee. You might already have this coverage through AAA or your personal insurance carrier.
    • In most cases, experts agree that rental insurance is an unnecessary expense. Find out the details before handing over your money.

  2. Fuel charges. Rental companies make a killing on selling pre-paid tanks of gas. Simply fill it up yourself before you return it. Be certain you understand the requirements. You may need a receipt.
    • Take a picture of the odometer and the gas gauge to ensure you’re on the right track. The fuel level will be noted on the rental agreement. Ensure it’s accurate.

  3. Damages. This is probably the biggest complaint from car renters. You drop off the keys and hop on your plane. A few days later you realize your credit card has been charged for $3,500 worth of ‘damages’. This can be challenging to fight if you’re not prepared beforehand.
    • Before driving off with any rental vehicle, walk around and inspect everything, inside and out. Make a note on the rental form of any damages. Use your phone to take pictures of any damages. Just be sure there is a time stamp. Avoid driving the car at all until you’ve thoroughly inspected it. The costs can be considerable, so take your time.

  4. Read the fine print. The fine print covers anything that’s even remotely out of the ordinary. If you rent a car and pay a weekly rate, what happens if you bring the car back a day early or a day late? It’s possible that bringing it back a day early will cancel the weekly rate, and you’ll actually pay more. Make note of all the fees.

  5. Be aware of the extras. If you’re going to need a car seat, consider bringing one. If you need a GPS, you probably already have one on your phone. Think about what you really need and then try to take care of it yourself.

  6. Consider the fuel efficiency of the car. If you’ll be driving a lot, it makes more sense to rent a car that gets great gas mileage. Gasoline is expensive. Minimize that expense by choosing the right car. The most fuel-efficient cars tend to be smaller. This is great since smaller cars tend to have lower rental rates.

Renting a car shouldn’t cost more than necessary. There are many things rental companies do to increase your cost. Many of these expenses are simply a waste of your money. Be prepared and you’ll pay less the next time you need to rent a car.

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