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4 Things You Wish You Knew about Renting Cars

The Open Road

Photo Courtesy of Gayle Nicholson

Say you’re going on vacation to Las Vegas. When you land at the airport, excited and ready to head to one of the fabulous Las Vegas hotels on the Strip, do you worry about your rental car reservation? Should you? The following tips may help you decide if you really want to grab that compact or head for the hotel shuttle.

The Most Common Articles Left BehindSunglasses

If you’re working or even vacationing in a faraway city, it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of activity and commitments. Don’t let that stop you from doing your due diligence before you return your rental car. Just as you’d go through every drawer before checking out of your hotel room, do the same with your rental car. Go through the glove box, under the seats, and take one last look through the trunk. The most common things that rental companies find left behind are sunglasses, umbrellas and cell phones. These things are rarely returned because they may be found several renters later, or even thrown away.

What Your Insurance Does and Does NOT Cover

Of course, the rental company is going to want as much out of your pocket as they can get, but is that insurance they sell really necessary? It depends.

Car out of Comission

Does my insurance cover this?

Your auto insurance most likely covers collision damage, meaning any damage you do to the car itself or any other property that you might hit. It also covers anyone you might injure in a collision. So, no, you shouldn’t double-up on the collision damage coverage. Many credit cards cover you for this, as well.

However, most insurance does not cover the “loss of use” that the rental company will demand while the car is being repaired. This is the amount they determine they have lost while the vehicle was out of commission. Your insurance will pay for the repairs, but not the loss of use. Only a few states allow for this loss of use coverage (those states are Alaska, Connecticut, Louisiana, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island and Texas).

So, extra insurance is a roll of the dice, really. It’s a rare occurrence that a rental car is damaged enough to be out of commission for any length of time, and it’s entirely up to you if you want to get the extra loss of use coverage. This is worth a little bit of homework on your part.

The Gas MythGas Station

When you rent a car, they usually offer you what they consider to be a convenience service – pay for a fill-up now, and you won’t need to gas up the vehicle before you turn it back in. They might even try to convince you that this saves you money, as they charge you less per gallon than the nearest gas station will. Sound too good to be true?

The cliché holds in this case. If it sounds too good to be true, it most certainly is. The fact is, even if you rent a car for a couple of days, you may not use an entire tank of gas. No rental company offers a refund for the difference. In addition, the chances are actually very high that you will find a gas station near the drop-off point that charges less per gallon than what the rental company would charge. Just be sure to bring a receipt showing that you did fill up the tank, as some companies require it and will charge you a service fee without it.

The Actual Cost vs. the Quoted Price

When you booked your rental online, the price may have looked something like $19.99 per day “plus taxes and applicable fees.” How much will your rental really cost you?

Watch out for these fees:

  • Sales taxes – city, county, state, and others depending on region
  • Airport surcharges
  • Insurance (this may be broken out into several types, as mentioned above)
  • Licensing fees
  • “Inexperienced driver” fees (age set arbitrarily between 16 and 25)
  • Older driver fees (age set arbitrarily from 65 up)
  • Additional driver fees
  • Theft protection fees
  • Gas Surcharge
  • Early return charge
  • Late return fee
  • Concession/recovery fees (for dropping off at the airport)
  • Drop-off fees (for NOT dropping off at the airport)
  • Mileage
  • Licensing fees
  • Peak season surcharges
  • Off season surcharges
  • “Extras” such as GPS
  • Frequent flier fees (for requesting or using your miles)

Believe it or not, the list could go on. Don’t assume – ask the tough questions. You may end up switching car rental companies.

It seems that rental car agencies are using the same tactics that airlines are using – nickel and diming you to death until you either grit your teeth and pay it or take the bus. Be diligent, investigate, and drive safe.

About joytourandtravel

JOY TOUR and TRAVEL has been in operation since 1985. We are fully bonded and insured. We are specialists in many areas of travel. Our staff has traveled extensively to bring you first-hand knowledge of the world. It is our goal to provide quality travel experiences that are of exceptional value to our clients. We are an active member and Co-Owner of Travel Alliance Partners (TAP). This is your assurance that this agency meets the highest standards of financial stability. We have to meet certain criteria to be a member of TAP. TAP is 29 of North America's premier tour operators. We are also a member of Vacation.com (which allows us to get special discounts); the Greater Cincinnati BBB, Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) and International Airlines Travel Agent Network (IATAN), which allows us to book international, as well as domestic airline itineraries

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