Car rental hints and other rental stories.

I started thinking about all the aspects of travel that we have to think about when going on a business trip or vacation. The one thing that always puzzled me was car rental. There are so many options. When is the best time to book, what kind of car will I need. What insurance should I take out or does my personal insurance cover me? What are all these extra charges I face?

Some factors that we should consider:

Do you need a car?

Do you even need a car where you are going? Are there good taxi cab or bus services that you can take instead? This may be cheaper than paying for the car, insurance and parking. Did you book tours where you are going to be picked up and not use the car for a day or so? Maybe a rented car is still the best option but at least you would have done your homework.

Book last minute

Often the best deals are found when you book your car at the last minute. The rental companies do not want their cars sitting on lots. They start considering lower daily rental rates if the car is still not spoken for the day before you are traveling. Some companies may even allow you to suggest the price you are willing to pay. Research each company and see what offers they are promoting.

Do you have a good driving record?

If your driving record is a little tarnished you may find your rental booking (even a confirmed one) is rejected when you try to collect your rental. Ask the rental agency if they check your record and what they are checking for. Some are more stringent than others or may charge you a fee to honor the booking.

Factors they will take into account are:

Speeding tickets

Accidents, whether it was your fault or not

Leaving a scene of an accident

Driving under the influence

Driving without a license

Reckless driving

Driving without a seat belt


You might already be insured for rental cars under your personal insurance but then again that coverage could be minimal. Call your personal insurance company and check. You may want to check if you have; Personal Accident Insurance (PAI); Personal Effects Coverage (PEC) or Personal Effects Protection (PEP). Taking out Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) is a good idea because if the car is damaged even if it wasn’t a collision then the rental company pays the damages, not you. It is an additional charge but this is minimal at around $10 a day compared to the thousands it could cost you. Again you might be covered by your personal insurance but make extra sure, because depending on the severity of the damage, you could be liable for full cost of the car. CDW is not available to renters in all states.

Watch out for hidden charges

Be sure you read the fine print. There are so many reasons why you might end up paying more for the car rental than you expected. You may be collecting it in one place and dropping off in another, and this could incur an additional charge for instance. When shopping around be careful about really cheap rentals because the extra fees could kill the deal. Check for:


Mileage fees

Fuel charges

Drop off fees

Additional driver fees

Collision Damage Waivers

Out of state charges – if you are driving across state lines you will face a fee

Underage driver fees (25 years and younger) – also ask if a higher insurance coverage is required

If you ask for extras such as a car seat or roof racks, you will be charged for them.

If you pick a car up at an airport it could cost more than at a city depot.

If the car is delivered to you at your hotel, it is an additional charge.

How big does the car have to be?

Can you live with a smaller car for a few days or does it have to be a certain model or size. Size does matter and if you would like to save a bit of money consider smaller cars if they suit your needs. Always ask the company about the sizes they offer. You might find that companies will differ and classify cars by different names. Also ask about specials you could get a free upgrade because of the time of year or length of rental period.

Some real stories from car renters:

I asked some members from my freelance writers group on LinkedIn if they would share their rental stories. Here is what they wrote.

Cheryl-Anne S.

Hi Celeste,

Last Christmas, my family rented a car in Mexico City to drive to Oaxaca (about 6 hours away), where we were staying for one week. When we got to the hire car counter (American company), they did not have the car I had ordered (or the GPS!), so they thought they were doing me a huge favor by giving me an “upgrade.” Well, that upgrade turned out to be a brand new BMW sedan, and while it was certainly very plush, we felt like a moving target for our entire 10-stay trip and made quite a stir in some of the poorer villages we passed through. Given the reports on Mexico’s crime, it was not a good experience. I would much prefer to have blended in, rather than herald my arrival!

Nicholas K.

Just on the Mexico side of things. I live part of the year in Puerto Vallarta, the quaint little, but growing tourist town on the Pacific side of Mexico. I leave a car in Mexico. In 12 years of Mexico living surprising or not, I have never had a nightmare driving in Mexico. Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but I feel that if you stay on the coast and in tourist areas, and avoid driving at night, you need not fear driving in Mexico.

Simon H.

You can read about our online insurance scam in Los Cabos at (4th paragraph) and the outrageous Europcar scam in Australia at (7th paragraph). Hope you enjoy them!

Shahid A.

In India ( Delhi ) simply keep away from private cars willing to serve as a public cab. They rob you. It is advisable to hire a registered cab and have an escort if possible.

Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved

Author: Principle writer – Celeste Wilson

We welcome reblogging with attribution and link.

Final note:

Do your research, shop around, and check all the details because knowledge is power.

5 thoughts on “Car rental hints and other rental stories.

  1. Pingback: Car rental hints and other rental stories. « | Car For Rent Cheap

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