Having a car to drive around while you are on holiday is, indeed, a pleasure. However, budget-conscious travelers are becoming wary of renting a car while on holiday because of the astronomical costs. On a holiday, you cannot reimburse the gas and the rental from your company, and then there is the “added charm” of taking public transportation in cities. However, no relaxing getaway can be complete without the freedom to drive off to a suburban or rural location for spots inaccessible to public transportation.
Travelers have heard a thousand stories of experiences of car-rental rip-offs that may have permanently scared off others from renting a car while on vacation. Some, on the other hand, seem to have just resigned to the fact that they will have to pay unreasonable amounts of money for the service. Do not be one of these people-with these simple tips, you can be sure to find rates that will fit into your budget and make your relaxing holiday hassle-free.
Book early. One of the pitfalls that travelers find themselves in is cramming all their holiday preparations in the last minute. When you book your car rental near your holiday, you run the risk of settling for expensive options. Book a month ahead and you will find more time to shop for the best prices. After you have booked your car rental as early as possible, you can recheck the rates. Some web-based car rental companies will even let you know-through email-whether their prices have dropped. You might be required to do the rebooking yourself, but that will just take a few minutes of your time.
Many car rental companies allow their customers to pre-pay for advanced bookings and cancel at no cost, just give them a cancellation notice three days before your arrival. Doing this will allow you to reserve a car and keep your eyes peeled for a better offer.
Use online resources. There are plenty of comparison sites available online, offering people with the convenience of checking rates from different companies in a matter of seconds, right in the comfort of your living room or office desk. These comparison sites are perfect for travelers who want to find the best deals but do not have enough time to manually list down the rates from different companies. Booking a rental car through travel agents will jack up the prices-these agents get around 2.5 to five percent commission for every booking, and thus raising the rates for the customer.
There are also coupon and discount sites offering promos for budget-conscious holidaymakers. If you are a member of a frequent flier program, you might want to inquire with a car rental company if they offer special rates.
Be aware of possible rip-off schemes, especially for fuel. According to this article from theguardian.com, more and more travelers in Europe have fallen into “car hire fuel schemes.” This scheme often involves companies asking their customers to pay for a full tank of gas upfront and return the car empty. The practice of “full to empty” has become popular among car rental companies that want increased incomes; they can easily charge the customers more than the cost of fuel, and thus jack the rates up. The full-to-full practice, or renting a car with a full tank of gas and returning it full, is much cheaper for the customer, and thus no good for some scheming rental companies.
The best way to avoid such rip-offs is to ask, before you pay for anything, about the fuel policy. Often, the advertised rates come with plenty of hidden charges that might force you into paying more than you originally intended. Be more discerning when it comes to advertised rates-rental companies know that numbers attract more customers, and you might be suckered into paying hidden charges if you do not read the fine print. Websites like discountcarhire.com offers comprehensive information on their website, allowing you to be a smarter customer and save more in your car rental.
Beware of the extras. Some rental companies might advertise a lower rate in their promotional materials, only to tack on numerous “extras” once you arrive in their office. Satnavs and child car seats are popular pitfalls, although adding another driver under 25 years old is one of the most expensive extras. Resist the sales talk at the counter-they will try to convince you to get things that you do not really need-and insist on buying only the basic package. If you cannot do without a satnav or a child seat, you can buy one from a local department store, at much cheaper rates than the rental systems and seats.
Get your insurance from an independent company. Insurance policies from the car rental companies are not only expensive, but also limited. If you can, buy insurance from a “third party” company such as insurance4carhire.com that covers damage to the tires, windows, the roof, the car interiors, and the undercarriage.
Document the car. To avoid paying for vehicle damages that use did not cause, make sure to carefully inspect the car and take photos before you leave the rental lot. Carefully inspecting the car involves the exterior and the interior of the vehicle, the condition of the spare tire, and record the mileage. Note all your observations in a piece of paper and have someone from the collection desk sign it. Photos will be highly helpful should there be some dispute when you return the car.
Always negotiate. Many people stop haggling once they believe that they have gotten the best possible prices. According to The New York Times, negotiating at the collection desk can result in a better car. Many companies will be agreeable to the idea of giving you a bigger car for the same rates as the economy car that you have booked (given that the bigger car is available, of course). Do not be hesitant to dispute any charges that you might find unreasonable, too.