I rented my first car in Phoenix, Arizona. Having traveled a lot I thought there would be nothing to the rental process, but I was wrong. In many ways, it is one of the more complicated parts of travel. Much of the complication can be avoided by a little preparation.
Things you need to know before renting a car:
- Does your personal auto insurance cover you when you rent a car? Just give them a call and ask them. Find out if your credit card offers insurance and learn about the terms and conditions.
- Will you need a GPS? A GPS is great to have in a new city. But, it can add a lot to your cost at the desk. Instead, decide if you want one before you go and either (a) take your own, or (b) be sure to include the GPS price when you look for the cheapest location.
- Some rental locations do not include all taxes and fees. Only book from places that give you an estimate of charges with taxes and fees, or else be ready for a heart attack.
- Always ask, “will that cost extra?” A friend was on his honeymoon and was given the opportunity to upgrade. Little did he know it was not a free upgrade!
- Find out what extra fees are associated with the rental. Some locations charge a drop off fee, fuel surcharge, tank refuel fee, one-way fee, extra driver fee, and young driver fee.
- Not all rental companies are offering unlimited miles. Some only allow you to travel to adjoining states. Be sure to ask where you are permitted to drive if you plan on taking a long trip. And of course, are there unlimited miles?
- Do they have non-smoking vehicles? As a non-smoker, I’m not a fan of cars that smell like nicotine.
- Where is the actual rental office? Just because it is an airport location does not mean you can walk to the lot. However, you can end up riding on a shuttle for more than you ever thought possible.
- What are pick up and drop off hours? It is frustrating to rent a car, arrive early, and have to wait for the location to open.
- What payment methods are accepted? Most companies require you use a credit card to rent the vehicle. A few allow you to use a debit card. At times you can even use cash.
There are a lot of things to ask, but by doing your homework beforehand you can save yourself some money and potentially a lot of frustration.