It’s not hard to find a car rental deal on the internet these days. But a lot of them aren’t as good as they might first appear. It’s the total package that you have to look at, not just the appealing number flashing on the home page. As they say in the classics, “the devil is in the detail”.
Don’t go grabbing the first “great looking” offer that you come across. There are a number of questions you need to have answered before you sign up, and several more before you take delivery of the car.
Before signing up for anything you need to ask about:
* Check offline: Yes, rental companies still do business on the phone too. They may have a cancellation, or too many cars in one location, and will offer a special deal to move that excess stock, rather than have to transport the car to another depot.
* Local taxes/fees/charges: Many local authorities and airports levy rental car companies for access, use of facilities etc. Be sure these are included in your quote.
* Frequent Flyer points surcharge: Many car rental companies now add a surcharge to offset the costs of issuing frequent flyer points. Be sure these are included in your quote.
* Insurance: The cost of insurance waivers can vary greatly. Rental car agents’ earn commission selling these add-ons, which can double your daily rate. Find out if your own car insurance covers you for rental cars as well. Some major credit cards will cover you if you charge the cost of the rental to their card. Find out what cover you already have, in advance.
Before you take delivery of the rental car:
* Check the car’s condition thoroughly. Some unscrupulous companies will try to blame pre-existing scratches & dents on the first ‘victim’ they can find. If you have a digital camera or camcorder, then take a few “happy snaps” of any pre-existing damage to the car. Then you have photographic proof of the exact condition of the car when you first took delivery.
* Carefully check the terms of your car rental deal. Make sure you’ve got unlimited mileage if you’re planning on a long trip. Some deals have a mileage allowance, after which you get charged a high dollar amount for the extra miles.
* Check the terms to see what time you have to return the car, and if you need to have the gas tank full or nearly empty. You don’t want to give them a full tank, only to find out later you didn’t have to.
Before you return the rental car:
* If you got the car dirty, clean it. If you don’t the car rental company will add an extra cleaning charge onto your credit card.
If you follow these simple suggestions then your car rental experience should go smoothly, and need not include any nasty surprises at the end.