Renting A Car

I absolutely hate having to rent a car when on vacation.  Maybe I’m used to the trains of Europe or the public transportation in major US cities but I much prefer being carted around and at a low expense.  But sometimes it’s a necessary evil!

We’ve needed a car rental on occasion and I thought I would briefly share what I’ve learned:

1.  Rent directly from the airport.  Usually this is cheaper than from a location elsewhere.

On our trip to San Francisco, we opted to book one from the airport even though we were already staying in town.  It was easy for my husband to go back to the airport (and cheaper since SF has public transportation) while I got us packed up and ready to go.

2. Book ahead.  It’s never a good idea to wait until last-minute to book a car as prices only go up and availability only goes down.

3. Use the internet, duh.  I don’t have any recommendations one way or the other as to which site to use as they all are similar in comparing prices, but I do recommend booking as a package if you are also booking a hotel or flight.  This will help $ave.

4. Sign up for their rewards program.  At minimum, this may allow you to pick up the car with shorter lines or even the keys left for you in the car. This makes a big difference when traveling with kids!

5. Book a car seat with kids. If traveling with kids you will need a car seat.  Some car rental companies do not offer this, at least not online… and I only book online as I can’t be bothered calling and speaking with someone with current technology the way it is!

6. Ask for directions.  I realize this seems silly but somehow I always manage to get lost or turned around leaving car rental places.  The GPS does not always “calculate” right away as it’s waiting for better reception, which does not help when exiting a car rental office in a busy area.

7. Take seriously the dent worksheet.  Mark up that piece of paper they provide to say what dents or dings existed prior to you driving it.

I’ve rented a car in one place and dropped it off in another and been questioned about certain marks on the car, so avoid the hassle and feeling guilty for something you didn’t do!

Honestly, the only fond memory I have of renting a car was when I was much younger and my stepdad rented a car and received an upgrade.  We were in Colorado and went to visit the Coors Brewery. So who wouldn’t love that?

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2 Responses to “Renting A Car”

  1. Russen Says:

    We went with Enterprise, while on our Honeymoon. We had the car for 12 days, in the end, so I knew I had to cut costs. Herz includes insurance into their daily prices, starting at $60/day. Enterprise, however, started at $25/day. The risk here, was that if a major wreck happened we would be covered for damages by *my* insurance provider, Progressive, but not for lost time. I decided to evaluate that risk at $500 and accept it, since that’s pretty close to an insurance deductible anyways.
    Secondly, there’s a big difference between daily prices and weekly prices. Enterprise actually charges $45/day for a car, but 1 week is only $170.
    Lastly, since we were driving one-way to Boston, I had to have a place that didn’t charge for dropping off across state lines. This, I found out, is mostly about luck. It just-so-happened that there was a need for “Intermediate” cars in Boston, so they didn’t charge a single fee for driving their car 1800 miles away from where it started. When it was time to pick up our car, however, the lot was fresh out of the correct sized cars, so we got bumped up to a “Full-Sized” Chevy Impala, at no extra cost. More luck!
    Dropping it off at the lot in Boston, however, they noticed the car now had over 30k miles on it, and was it marked for dismissal :)

    12 days of car rental: $340 ($27/day + taxes/fees)


    • admin Says:

      Yes, when finding a car you definitely have to be careful about if insurance is included etc. When I was in Las Vegas we rented a car to drive to the Grand Canyon and got a flat tire. Because we had opted out of the insurance (being covered by our own as you said) we didn’t think about non-accident expenses so the tire was not covered… what’s worse is the policy was we had to replace the tire on the car (convertible mind you!) with an original tire to match the others. So $250 later for repairs that car was SO expensive. I’m glad you had good luck on your honeymoon! And thanks for your additional comments Russen!


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