5 Best Practices for Renting a Car

So, you're in need of a car rental, but you're unfamiliar with the process involved in renting a car. Regardless of whether you need to rent a car for work or pleasure, the fact remains that there are some best practices for renting a car that you'll want to keep in mind.

Shop Around for the Best Rates

First of all, understand that rates for rental cars can vary greatly from one carrier to the next. Always request quotes from a few different companies to see which will give you the best deal on the type of car you need.

Furthermore, understand that you might be eligible for special promotional rates and discounts. Some credit cards and organizations, for example, may entitle you to special rates. Sometimes, you may even be able to find promotional codes online that you can use to save on your rental.

Avoid Picking Up From an Airport

If you're flying into a major city and plan on picking your rental car up from the airport, think again. A lot of times, it's significantly cheaper to pick up your rental car from a non-airport location. Yes, this may mean taking a cab or shuttle into town upon landing at the airport, but you might be surprised at just how much money you can save on your rental by doing this.

Be Present During the Inspection

When you pick up your rental car and drop it back off, the associate should conduct a thorough inspection of the car itself. The point of this inspection is to make note of any damage. This way, any damage that was not present when you picked up your vehicle will be your responsibility when it comes time to drop it back off.

Make sure you're present when this inspection is done, and be sure that all visible damage (such as dents and scratches) is marked onto the inspection sheet. Always ask for a copy of the inspection sheet as well and keep it for your records.

Know Your Insurance Options

When you rent your car, you'll likely be given the option to purchase an insurance policy along with it for a set dollar amount per day. Before you pay extra for this coverage, however, check to see if you're already covered for your rental car. Often times, credit card companies or even your current auto insurance policy will provide enough coverage for your rental car without the need for you to buy any additional coverage.

Of course, if you don't have rental car coverage through your auto insurance policy or credit card company, you'll want to purchase the necessary amount of protection through the rental agency.

Fill Up Before You Return the Car

Most car rental companies will require that you return the vehicle with a full tank of gas. Otherwise, you'll be charged a premium price per gallon to the rental car agency to refill the car for you. It's not uncommon for these prices to exceed $4 per gallon—even if local gas prices are much lower. Therefore, you'll want to save yourself the hassle and additional cost by simply stopping at a gas station and filling up your rental car just before you return it to the agency.

As you can see, there's a lot to keep in mind when you're looking to rent a car for any period of time. By taking the time to shop around for the best rates, making sure you're covered while driving a rental car, and filling up before you return, you'll be in good shape.

car and driver
abc news
washington post
la times