Wherever your travels take you this summer, having a credit card will make it easier to rent a car. Many companies won’t accept cash, and those that do require preapproval and a deposit.
Click and Call to Get the Best Deal
When you make your travel plans, look for specials on travel sites, such as Travelocity and Expedia, as well as on car rental companies’ sites. Then about a week before your departure, check again. Competition is fierce in this $16 to $20 billion a year industry, so you may just find a better rate.
Also call the companies’ toll-free numbers – as well as the local number – to ask about special offers. You might find the best rate online, via the corporate toll-free number, or at the local franchise. Here’s a list of Web sites and toll-free numbers for car rental companies. (Get the local numbers when you call.)
Since prices change quite quickly, be prepared to whip out your credit card as soon as you get the best deal. Find out what the cancellation policy is, so you’ll know when it doesn’t pay to look for a better deal any longer – and what to do if you find one. The last thing you want is for your credit card to be charged for a reservation you had no intention of keeping.
What to Do about Insuring a Rented Car
Choose a card that will help cover the insurance, which can add an extra $15.99 to $30 per day to the cost of renting a set of wheels. If you can also get some cash back from this credit card … or other rewards … all the better!
Most cards provide secondary coverage, with personal auto insurance policies providing primary coverage in case of an accident. So look through your policy or check with your agent. If it covers only a limited amount, it’s all the more important that you choose carefully among your pile of plastic.
Most credit cards only provide collision and theft coverage, leaving out liability insurance, i.e., damage you do to someone else. The good news is that car rental companies often provide liability coverage at no additional charge. Ask!
Ask card issuers about restrictions involving the type of vehicle covered, the length of time you will have the car, unauthorized drivers, etc. Get the answers to these questions before you decide which card has the best car rental benefits and policies.
More Tips For Getting the Best Rate
- Ask for specials based on what credit card you use, where you work, or which airline you fly.
- Check your bills for coupon inserts from car rental companies.
- Ask about all possible discounts, including those for members of organizations ranging from AAA and AARP to trade associations and frequent flyer programs.
- Need the car for more than a few days? The weekly rate might be cheaper.
- Cars are usually the priciest at airports, so consider renting from locations away from the airport.
- Know when the car is due back and get it there on time. If you’re late, you are going to pay! (There’s usually an hour’s grace period.)
- Fill the gas tank before you return the car and check out CreditBloggers’ tips for saving money on gas.
Safe travels! Do you have other tips for car rentals? Please share them with us!