11 Mistakes to Avoid While Renting a Car

11 Mistakes to Avoid While Renting a Car

While buying a vehicle can be exhilarating, renting a vehicle is often more convenient and affordable. Car rentals offer flexibility to travelers and provide them with a cost-effective means of commute and travel. For such reasons, the car-rental industry in the country earned a revenue of $28.1 billion in 2021. Car renting has become an incredibly easy process, but it can be further enhanced by avoiding a few common car-renting mistakes:

Relying on the rental company to pay tolls
Although many car-rental companies have schemes through which they pay tolls for their clients, most of these companies charge anywhere up to $10 as administrative fees plus the toll amount. Thus, while driving a rented car, it is essential to close the toll transponder in the car and pay for tolls through online payment gateways or cash at the toll booth.

Pre-purchasing a full tank of gas
Often, rental companies provide clients with the option of pre-purchasing gas, i.e., getting the entire gas tank filled, so that clients need not refuel the car before they return it. However, in most cases, if the full tank is not used, clients are not paid for the residual fuel. A cost-saving strategy is to avoid pre-purchasing gas and refueling the car before returning it.

Buying rental insurance without checking one’s credit card
Most car rental companies offer rental car insurance to their clients for financial reimbursement of any damages. But this rental car insurance can often cost the driver anywhere up to $25 per day, which is quite expensive. Individuals whose auto insurance covers rental cars need not take any further steps to get insured. The good news is that even those without auto insurance do not have to buy rental car insurance if their credit cards offer insurance on car rentals. Many credit card companies provide such insurance at no additional charges. Hence, before renting a car, it is a good idea to check out if one’s credit card offers such benefits. One must also contact the credit card company to understand what aspects are covered in the policy. Temporary car insurance is the next best alternative.

Not knowing about higher fees charged from young drivers
Rental car companies typically levy exorbitant daily fees for young drivers renting their cars. This increased amount is owing to the driver’s inexperience. A cost-effective solution is to refrain from driving if one is below 21 years of age. Instead, renters may look for family members or friends who are over the age of 21, are licensed drivers, and are willing to accompany them to the destination.

Not checking the car thoroughly before the journey
An essential step before starting one’s journey on a rented car is to check the car thoroughly, inspecting it for any existing damages. Further, clients must take pictures of any such damages and report them promptly to the company to avoid being charged for the same. The car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) can also provide information on the car and model, helping individuals ensure that they have been provided with the model they had paid for, equipped with all the features.

Failing to refuel the car before returning it
Returning a rented car with a half-filled or empty tank can warrant extra charges, which are higher than the expenses one would incur for refueling the car. Hence, it is essential to return the car with a full tank to avoid such penalties.

Not checking discount codes
Another common car-renting mistake is to forget checking out the available discount codes. Discount codes available for specific car-rental companies can help clients save considerable amounts on their rents. Individuals who are members of specific organizations, such as AAA, can also avail of discounts on car rentals.

Driving on unpaved roads
Most car rental companies expect their clients to drive only on properly paved roads. This is because the risk of meeting with accidents is higher on unpaved paths. Moreover, car rental and auto insurance policies typically do not reimburse policyholders who have suffered injuries or incurred damages while driving on unpaved roads. It is always better to stick to the conventional route when driving a rented car.

Renting a car at an airport terminal
Surcharges apply for renting cars at airport terminals. Most rental companies pay these additional charges to the airport and demand the amount from their clients. Hence, clients cannot get away from paying these surcharges if they rent cars at airport terminals. However, the most cost-saving alternative is to rent a car outside the airport, using the airport’s shuttle service to commute within the premises.

Not adhering to parking regulations
Parking at a “No Parking” zone or breaking other basic parking regulations can cause one to incur hefty fines. It is best to understand the parking regulations in the destination city or town to which one is headed and follow traffic and parking signs along the way.

Failing to return the car on time
Car-rental companies levy delay charges for returning the car late unless the driver has a genuine reason and the delay was not in the client’s control. It is best to avoid meandering from the original plan and returning the car immediately upon completing one’s journey.