Sooner or later, just about everyone ends up needing to rent a car. Whether it is because they are on vacation and need a set of wheels, or their own car is in the shop and a rental becomes a necessity.
If you have looked at prices lately you know that getting a car, even for a short period, can be expensive. Advertisements may imply that you can rent something for $19 a day, but once you tack on extras, the price skyrockets.
The Not-So-Complete Daily Rate
When you go online, which is the best place to compare rates, you find that cars are advertised by the daily rate. That rate includes nothing but the car and in some cases, mileage. It doesn’t cover gas, insurances or the surcharges that are common for renters under the age of 25.
Want to pick up the car at one location and return it at another? Cha-ching, you pay a surcharge. Didn’t have time to fill the tank before turning in the car? No problem; as long as you pay double the going rate on fuel. Cars rented from the airport often have an additional surcharge. By the time you finish adding it all up the total is much higher than you expected.
Decline Additional Coverage, Fill the Tank and Save Money
Before you rent a car, call your insurance provider and credit card company. Many insurance companies will provide coverage in a rental car, meaning you don’t have to take the overpriced version for the rental. If your insurance company doesn’t cover it, the credit card company might. Either way, you save money.
Fill the car before you return it to the rental office. The price charged by most rental companies is at least double the going rate, so it just isn’t worth while forgetting. You can frequently find gas stations near the rental location and as long as you drive less than 10 miles you should be fine.
Some companies started offering gas at a very similar, or sometimes even a slightly lower than outside rate. The catch? You have to pay for one full tank of gas. Never ever get gas from the rental car company if cost is at all your concern.
Economy Cars Cost Less to Rent
Pick the smallest car you can get away with. The larger the car the more you pay. Also avoid “specialty” cars like convertibles and SUVs. They just cost and you still have to wait for the red light. If you find when you arrive that you just can’t get comfortable in the car you picked most companies are happy to upgrade you to a better fit.
The other way smaller cars save you money is from gas. The smaller the car, the better gas mileage it usually gets. Stick to economy cars, unless you like to spend for no reason.
Shop Around and Use Promotions
Don’t just go to one of the wholesale websites when searching for a car rental. Using the company website can save you money if you hit a sale that isn’t shared elsewhere. Also consider checking with your insurance carrier, the credit card company and even your automotive club if they offer coupons to use with car rental agency. You may be able to get a day free on a longer rental, or upgrade at no charge. In either case, you save money.
Car rental can be a bit of a hassle, but when you need to rent a vehicle there is no reason to pay top dollar.
Get more tips by grabbing your free copy of the How to Save Money on Everything ebook free by signing up for the free frugal newsletter here.