7 Essential Car Rental Tips For Travelers

Car Rental Tips – Lowest Rates Vs. A Good Bargain

The car rental market around the world is extremely competitive, and if you have searched for a great deal on a rental car in the past, you probably have encountered rate differences.

I noticed recently from my most recent trip to Los Angeles that renting a car was almost like playing the lottery.

Most major car rental places have competitive rates, and you may only see a rate difference of maybe $10 to $20 separating them.

But what I have noticed when I have locked in the best deal through the internet, those price differences will disappear quickly once you encounter the fine print.

The minor details are hidden in the contract like, drop charges for remote destinations, late return fines, and gasoline inflated rates as well as other service charges you didn’t think about when you shopped for the “best deal.”

I know that I am not alone when researching for a rental car is always the last thing to book for any type of travel. 

It’s a pain shopping around to find the best deal especially when you are doing your research through online booking sites.

So if you are planning a vacation, and thinking about renting a car, there are other things besides finding the best deal that you need to look at when renting a car. 

This post is your guide to figuring out the best way to find a great deal online when renting a car.

Car Rental Tips
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Things To Keep In Mind When Renting A Car

Before you start your research on renting a car, you should ask yourself some questions.

  • Who will be the driver? Is it yourself on a business trip or will you be traveling with the whole family?
  • How much luggage are you bringing with you on your trip? Is the rental car going to be big enough for all the luggage you are traveling with? 

Do you have infants that will require you to order a booster seat? 

If so, then make sure you mention this in your order, as many car rental dealers have limited supplies of them. Keep in mind that ordering a child’s car seat will come at an extra charge. 

Can you survive without a car for part of your journey? 

If so, think about what other modes of transportation are available to keep costs low. 

I recently stayed at the Kauai Marriott Resort, which had a free airport shuttle to and from the hotel. 

While I was at the resort, I pretty much spent a few days relaxing at the pool and didn’t need a rental car. Just by doing some research, I was able to save $100 or more by not renting a car.

Are you heading to a warm destination for your next vacation? 

Then you will need to make sure the rental car that you are ordering has air conditioning. 

Most rental cars have air conditioning included in the pricing, but some countries around the world don’t offer air conditioning. Which could make very a very sticky ride.

Are you planning a road trip from one city to another on your vacation? 

While most rental car companies offer unlimited millage, some of the smaller rental car companies often charge for milage over a certain limit per day.

I know that I have mentioned above that price isn’t a factor in choosing a rental car, but if you go with an unknown car rental company, service will be subpar compared to a national car rental company.

For example, if you are stuck in the middle of nowhere and your rental car needs to be serviced, a major car rental company will have better coverage for you compared to a small independent rental car company.

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Preferred Car Renter Programs and Affiliations

Renting A Car 1 1 car rental car rental

Just like airlines and hotels, many major car rental companies offer frequent renter programs to their valuable customers to help maintain loyalty. 

Car rental loyalty programs are quite similar to most loyalty programs, as in, the more you rent the better deals you will receive.

If you a renting from the major car rental companies that operate throughout the world, most of them offer preferred rental loyalty programs. 

How they work is you sign up for the loyalty program, and you get valuable options like automatic upgrades if they have a better car than you ordered in stock.

Most basic-level loyalty memberships are often free, but higher-level memberships (as in the Hertz #1 Gold Club or Thrifty Blue Chip) allows you to bypass the rental counter. 

This is a huge time saver, especially if you are on an arriving flight to Kauai and 50% of the passengers on the plane are renting from the same car rental car dealer as you. 

Having a loyalty membership will save you time and money by skipping a line that could be an hour or more.

If you are searching for a car rental, and the rates are still high because of peak season, have a look in your wallet to see if you are a AAA member or find out about a corporate rate.

While the savings may not be significant, they still can save you money in the long run that can be used for gas in the rental car.

If you’re still faced with a steep rate, try getting discounts based on your affiliations with organizations like AARP, AAA, or others. 

These discounts are usually not great, but they are better than nothing.

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Car Rental Insurance

When it comes to car rental insurance terms, they can oftentimes be confusing and hard to decipher.

So, here are some of the major abbreviations in the insurance terms that you should be aware of.

  • CDW – Collision Damage Waiver.
  • LDW – Loss Damage Waiver.
  • PDW – Physical Damage Waiver.
  • PAI – Personal Accident Insurance.
  • PEC – Personal Effects Coverage.
  • ALI – Additional Liability Insurance.

Now, something that car rental companies will try to push at this counter is car rental insurance. 

But, many major credit cards in the market today offer the same coverage that is included in your credit card reward programs. 

If you choose to forgo the car rental insurance at the counter, call your credit card company beforehand to insurance that you are covered in renting a car.


Important Things To Do Before Leaving A Car Rental Location

Important Things To Do Before Leaving An Airport Or Car Rental Office

If you have just arrived at your destination after a long haul flight, stood in line for an hour to collect your baggage at the airport, it makes sense that many of us would just grab the keys at the car rental dealership and head directly to the hotel for a good nights rest.

But, there are some important things that you need to do every time before leaving a car rental lot. Here are some key points to keep in mind before driving off.

The first thing you need to do once you received your keys to your rental car is to inspect the entire car for small dents and scratches.

Make sure that you have a car rental attendant with you during the inspection to note any damage.

If there is not an attendant available, make sure to write down any areas of concern, take a picture of the vehicle, and then report it to the front counter immediately.

If you don’t, you can be held responsible for damage that you never did.

The second thing during your inspection is to open the trunk to make sure the rental vehicle has a spare tire, with a jack and a set of tools in case of a flat.

There nothing more frustrating than to be stuck in a foreign city while trying to change a flat tire with no tools or tire.

The third thing you should consider asking at the front counter when you are receiving your keys to the rental car is for an extra set of keys.

This is helpful, especially when you lose a set of keys in the pacific ocean and can’t leave the beach. True story.

The fourth thing you need to do before leaving the car rental lot is to get familiarized with the rental car features.

Make sure you know how to operate the car radio, thermostat, and other things that can cause frustration while driving.

The fifth thing is to be prepared for where you are going. I love using google maps for this reason, as I can download all the directions I need on my phone, so I don’t fumble around while I am driving.

While this suggestion is not something to concern yourself within the car rental lot, but it’s extremely important is never park a loaded vehicle with baggage in an unattended area.

Thieves prey on tourists who tend to leave all of their belongings in his/her rental car while venturing out for a bite to eat or seeing a major attraction.

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In Case Of A Car Accident

In most countries when it comes to exchanging important information in case of an accident, usually require the following:

  1. Full names of both parties
  2. Mailing address
  3. Telephone number
  4. Insurance details
  5. Driver’s license numbers

Also, if there is a witness to the accident, try getting the full names and contact information from the witnesses. 

Also, make sure you write down the make, model, color, and license plate of the vehicle involved. 

Make sure that you write down where the accident occurred, and if the police are involved, make sure you receive a copy of the accident report.

Once you have this, call your rental car company ASAP.

If you have purchased car rental insurance from the car rental dealership, they will begin making the claim for you. 

If you are using a different form of insurance, other than the car rental company, contact them immediately to start the claim.

Also, if you have a camera with you, take as many pictures as possible of the accident for future reference.

Returning Your Rental Car

Important Things To Do Before Leaving An Airport Or Car Rental Office

Your vacation is over, and it’s time to return your vehicle, here are some things that you take should note before returning the rental car.

Check to make sure about the right car rental dealership you are returning to. If it’s the airport, make sure you have directions to the airport in hand. 

If you are running late, call the rental car company to notify them. Sometimes they can waive an hour or two, but if you want to keep the rental car for an extra day, it’s better they know in advance.

Fill up your rental car before dropping it off in the car rental lot! There is an option of renting your car rental and having the dealer fill it up for you, but it’s better to do it yourself.

In case you are returning your car rental to a location that may be closed on the day of returning it, make sure to make a note of the time you returned the vehicle in an envelope with the car keys. 

Oh, and make sure you lock the vehicle before you leave it.

Related Article: 10+ Major Traveling Scams to Avoid – How To Travel Safe

Car Rental Booking Sited I Use

While we all have our favorite vacation booking sites to book our next journeys, here is a list of online booking sites I use for renting a car.


When we all go on a holiday, we want to spend our time relaxing and not thinking about anything major.

If you follow these tips for renting your next rental car on the journey of your choice, you won’t be in for any surprises.

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Car Rental Tips

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