|How can I
save money on my Rental Car rates?
- Shopping the Internet can be the quickest and
best way to compare many Rental Car rates.
- If you are planning on purchasing extra items
such as a damage waiver or insurance, you should also comparison shop
- Make sure their mileage policy is favorable to
you so you can avoid extra charges.
- Airport fees can be quite large so you might see
if it is worth it to use an off-airport facility. However, if the
off-airport company picks you up at the airport, you'll probably still
have to pay some of the fee.
- You can check their national reservation centers
and their local offices; one may be offering a better deal than the
other. ASK, if this is the best rate they have available.
- Make your reservation as soon as you have decided
on plans. Most Rental Car Companies increase their rates as
reservations come in and their fleets become booked. Also, certain
classes of cars will sell out and you may have to end up reserving and
paying for a larger vehicle than you want.
- Being flexible about your travel plans can save
you money. Rental Companies that focus on the business or replacement
market customers often have great weekend specials. The best rates are
found during the off season and at other times when the Rental
Companies have extra cars sitting around.
- Check into booking your vacation as a package.
You might be able to save by booking your car along with a certain
airline, hotel or attraction ticket package.
- Book the smallest car that you will need and hope
for a free upgrade. But, remember you may get stuck with that small
- Check into other size class vehicles. They may
have extra cars in a certain class and be offering discounts for that
- Use coupons, but read them carefully for
exceptions. Most upgrade coupons are "based on
availability", so if you have an upgrade coupon that you wish to
use and also have a monetary discount coupon, bring them both. If they
canít honor the upgrade, they may still give you the monetary
discount. Also, remember to book any coupons or discounts in your
- Apply any special discount programs for which you
- When you get to the counter, ask if there are any
upgrade specials available, they might have some good deals.
of special discount programs are available?
- Check for special deals with your memberships in
associations or clubs.
- Memberships in Premium Clubs, loyalty or frequent
flyer programs can offer discounts.
- Some credit cards have special discounts or
upgrades with certain Rental Car Companies.
- Package discounts can be found when booking your
rental car with certain airlines, hotels or attraction ticket
- Discounts are often available for government,
military or corporate employees. Some Rental Car Companies will even
extend these discounts during leisure travel.
- Some special airport rates require you to present
your arrival airline ticket. You may need to have arrived within 24
hours to get the special rate.
|Is it better
to take the daily or weekly rate?
Seven days or more is obvious; you take the weekly
rate. If you are going to keep the car for more than five days, you can
also check into the weekly rates. Generally the sixth and seventh day
end up being free in the weekly rental. You might not need that free
seventh day, but if your plans change, itís there. If you reserve on a
daily plan, they might not let you change to a lower weekly rate if you
need to keep the car longer. However, you can also be punished if you
turn the car in too early. They might charge you a higher daily rate
than you could have reserved, so check the Rental Companyís policy on
|How will I
know which is the best Rental Car Company for me to use?
You can check some of these issues if they are
important to you.
- Ask around and consider their customer service
- Consider their rental policies and
qualifications, are they favorable to you or do they penalize you in
- Do they offer a Premium Club that offers the
services you need?
- Check to see if you belong to any groups that
entitle you to a special deal with a particular Rental Car Company.
- Find out what partnerships they have that could
save you money in other areas. Many Rental Car Companies have
agreements with hotel chains, airlines, or credit card companies.
- See if they credit your frequent flyer or
frequent guest programs with points.
- See if they carry the types of cars that you like
to drive such as new, used, Ford, GM, and luxury or specialty
- Check their locations. Do they have them where
you travel? Do they have international locations? Are they mostly on
or off-airport? Do they have 24-hour facilities, so they will always
be there if your flight is late?
- What types of extra services do they offer? Could
they deliver a car to you or do they offer a pick-up service? Do they
have 24-hour emergency road service?
- Can they honor your special requests?
- Consider their rates and the availability of any
coupons or discounts.
Companies offer any clubs with special perks?
- Yes, you should inquire about the Rental
Companyís membership clubs.
- Some free clubs allow you to have most of your
rental information on file in their computers before you show up to
speed up the rental process.
- Some offer Premium Clubs where you can sign up
all your rental information in advance to shorten the time youíll
spend at the counter or eliminate it all together. This can include
keeping your vehicle preferences on file, as well as, your decisions
on insurance coverage and fuel replacement.
|How much do
the Premium Clubs cost to join?
- Some Rental Companies Premium Clubís charge a
membership fee. The fee is generally around $50.00 a year.
- If you ask, some Rental Companies will waive this
charge for the first year just to get you on board.
- Some Premium Clubs may be available to you for
free if you rent enough or belong to the right company, association or
|What are the
advantages of joining a Rental Car Companyís Premium Club, is it worth
- If you plan on renting often, the membership fees
will seem small considering the time saved.
- These Premium Clubs can help you skip lines all
together and are the quickest way to get on the road.
- These clubs will sometime offer special rates,
discounts or upgrades to their members only.
- Sometimes extra fees, such as those for certain
additional drivers, are waived for members of Premium Clubs.
- These Clubs often reserve the newest and nicest
cars in the rental fleet.
- Some Clubs will reward points that can be
exchanged for free rental days, upgrades or even gifts.
- If it looks like the company has overbooked and
will have to break reservations, they usually will take care of their
Premium Club members first and break the reservations of regular
|What is the
minimum age requirement?
- All Rental Companies have a minimum age
requirement, usually 25.
- Some will rent to those 21 years old with a
surcharge, which tend to range from $5.00 to $25.00 a day. Ask about
this policy if you are under 25.
- Some Rental Car Companies will rent to those 18
and above in certain situations. Government or Military personnel on
official business are often allowed to rent. Some companies will rent
a car as an insurance replacement vehicle.
- The minimum age requirement applies to the renter
as well as any additional drivers.
|Can I rent a
car if I am less than 25 years of age?
- Some Rental Companies offer rentals to those less
than 25 and over 21. They will usually charge a daily surcharge
ranging from $5.00 to $25.00 a day.
- The minimum age policy and surcharge policy
varies from company to company and can even vary between a companyís
- Youíll not only want to find out who will rent
to you, but also shop their surcharge fee to see if you can save some
- Some Rental Companies that have a general policy
of renting only to those over 25, have special agreements with certain
corporate accounts allowing rentals to corporate employees who are
under 25. In some cases, they will also wave any surcharge for those
employees. However, the corporate employees are often limited to
renting the car for only business purposes. You can check with the
Rental Companies or your corporate travel departments to see if you
are eligible for these programs.
- U.S. Government employees or military personnel
as young as 18 years old can often arrange to rent if they are on
official business and traveling with orders.
|Who else can
drive the car?
Additional drivers usually need to be listed on
your rental contract. Ask about the companyís additional driver
- Who else is allowed to drive the car?
- What are the additional costs if others drive the
- What requirements must be met for additional
drivers to be listed on the contract?
of requirements do additional drivers have to meet to be allowed to drive
the rental car?
- Additional drivers are often required to meet
most, if not all, of the same requirements as the renter. Rental
Companies may be flexible about the credit card requirements.
- Additional drivers must usually also be present
to present their valid driverís license to the Rental Companyís
- Many Rental Companies will charge a fee to list
an additional driver.
|Is it a
problem if I let someone else drive the car without first listing them as
an additional authorized driver?
- Yes, and it can be a big one. If someone else
drives the car without the Rental Companyís permission, you have
most likely violated the contract terms and any protection you had
under that contract may be voided.
- This violation could complicate or even negate
claims against your personal insurance and negatively impact any
coverage you receive from your credit card.
- If the police stop an unauthorized driver, that
driver can be detained or even arrested because they donít have any
legal right to have possession of the car.
all those tickets I have; will they effect me?
- Yes, they can. Some states, including Florida,
allow Rental Companies to do online driverís license checks at the
time of rental and some will refuse a rental based on this check.
- If you have a questionable driving record,
especially a D.U.I, you should ask the reservation center about this
part of the rental qualification policy.
- You might be able to find these policies on the
companyís web page; or the reservation centers should have it
available in their computers; or have another phone number available
to call to check these policies.
- Your reservation is useless if you donít
qualify to rent.
|Do I have to
return the car to the same location?
- Not always, some Rental Companies allow you to
drop off their car at their other locations in town, in other cities
or even other states.
- Youíll need to ask about each particular case
to see if it is allowed.
- Youíll also need to know the cost since there
is usually a charge for this convenience.
- Some companies have special low shuttle rates
available between two popular locations.
- Some companies have special low rates available
if they need the car moved to another location. Often, parts of rental
fleets are moved south to north for the summer and north to south for
the winter to adjust for seasonal needs. So, if you do happen to be
going that way you can really find some good deals.
|How far can
I drive the rental car?
- Ask about any mileage charges and limitations.
- There may be limits placed on the mileage if you
take the vehicle out of state.
- There may be mileage limits for certain types of
vehicles especially specialty or luxury vehicles.
- If you go over these limits, the charges can add
rentals outside the United States different from those here?
Every country has its own rules, but hereís a
list of some items you may want to consider.
- You may need an international driverís license
or permit in addition to your U.S. driverís license.
- Some countries charge a fee for a permit that
allows you to drive on their roads.
- The rental contract may not be in English. See if
they have rental contracts or at least an explanation of contract
terms available in English. Also, see if they will have any English
speaking counter personnel available to assist you when you arrive.
- Your personal insurance or credit card coverage
may not be valid or acceptable to the rental company, so you may need
to purchase extra coverage.
- Most rental car fleets outside the U.S. are made
up of much smaller cars.
- Many foreign rental fleets will have a large
percentage of manual transmission automobiles.
- A car with air-conditioning may be considered an
upgrade in some foreign fleets.
- Road signage may be in unfamiliar languages and
the colors and shapes of those signs may be different than those in
- The direction of the lanes
may be opposite of those in the U.S.
- Road conditions may be
considerably worse than those found in the U.S.
- Gauges may only read in
the metric system, 100 kilometers=60 miles.
- Gasoline is usually
considerably more expensive and is often
sold by the liter, 3.78 liters=1 gallon.
- Many countries have even higher taxes on rental
cars than those in the U.S.
- Fuel prices are often considerably higher than
those found in the U.S.
- Some countries have both a minimum and a maximum
|How can I
get an International Driverís Permit?
The American Automobile Associationís
International Driving Permit web page. This site contains information on
how to get an International Driving Permit. This permit, used in
conjunction with your valid U.S. driverís license, is valid in 150
countries. Check out the siteís IDP FAQ link for further information.
help me prepare if I'm planning on driving in Europe?
This site contains information on traffic codes,
road signs, parking and road vocabulary for these planning on driving in
of payment are accepted?
- Some Rental Companies only accept major CREDIT
CARDS and DO NOT accept DEBIT CARDS. Donít be fooled by the credit
card logo on your debit or checking card. Although, you can probably
use a debit card or cash to pay for the rental on return, you may not
be able to use them to pick up the car. Check with the reservation
center or company web site to verify that youíll have an acceptable
form of payment to secure the vehicle on pick up.
- Be advised that the name on the credit card you
present must be in the renterís name.
- If you plan on booking with a travel voucher,
verify the procedures directly with the Rental Company. The voucher
may not include taxes or additional fees. Make sure you understand
exactly what the voucher will cover. You may also be required to
present that voucher to pick up the car.
|If I donít
have a credit card, can I rent a car by leaving a cash deposit?
- Very few Rental Companies accept a cash deposit
for a rental car. The ones that do are much more likely to be a small
local operator than a large national chain.
- Some national chains do have a program to put you
on their own internal charge card or they may pre-approve you for cash
rentals, but these can take time. These programs need to be worked out
and approved in advance of your reservation.
- Cash rentals usually have special requirements
above and beyond the Rental Companyís normal requirements, so you
will need to check with each individual location so that you see if
you can qualify under their cash rental program.
- If you do need to leave a cash deposit, find out
when the remaining positive balance will be returned to you after you
return the car. Donít count on the deposit to get you home. Many
companies cannot return the deposit immediately and will only return
the deposit by check through the mail.
of requirements are there for cash rentals?
- You may need advanced approval on file before you
can pick up the car.
- You may need a local address with a phone or
other bills in your name.
- If you are from out of town, they may require and
even hold your return airline ticket.
- Need for approval based upon your credit rating
with the credit bureau.
- They will require a cash deposit to be left that
exceeds the entire rental bill.
- Possible requirements for you to purchase their
coverage or damage waiver.
- There may be limits on the types of cars you are
allowed on a cash rental.
- There may be minimum or maximum number of days
allowed for a cash rental.
|What will I
need to know to reserve my Rental Car?
- The name of the person that will be picking up
- Credit card type, number and expiration date of
the card to be billed.
- Location where youíll be picking up and
returning the car.
- Date and time youíll be picking up and
returning the car.
- Size of the car you want to reserve.
- Any special requests, such as smoking/nonsmoking,
child seat or model preference.
- Any discounts or coupons that you are planning to
apply to the rental.
- If you have it, some Rental Car Companies like to
have your flight information. That way they can keep track of delayed
- Make sure you get a confirmation number when you
do make your reservations.
economy, midsize, standard or full size, mean exactly?
- Whatever the Rental Company says it does, so ask
for examples of familiar model names. Rental Companiesí
classifications of models vary and this will help you to compare rates
and understand the size of the vehicle you are reserving.
- The Rental Companiesí classifications usually
differ from car manufacturesí model classifications. Your personal
carís manufacturer may classify your model as a midsize, while a
Rental Company may classify the same model as a full size, so again
ask for clarification.
car do I really need?
- Reserving the appropriate size car in advance is
a good way to budget.
- Many will tell you to reserve the smallest class
and hope for a free upgrade, but this can be risky. If the smaller car
is available, and you need the bigger car, you might be in trouble.
The larger vehicles might all be booked or the upgrade charge may be
considerably more costly than if you had reserved the larger car in
the first place. This is especially true during peak rental times,
when many car and van classes are sold out.
- Remember by law every passenger must have a seat
belt available to him or her so you canít put five in a
- Remember trunk space. The smaller car may hold
all your passengers, but donít forget the luggage, golf clubs and
souvenirs youíll want to bring back home. Convertibles are great,
but they do have very small trunks.
Rental Car Company have an on or off-airport facility?
- Check on the location of that cityís particular
rental facility to see if it is on or off-airport.
- Off-airport facilities can be cheaper, but
transportation off the airport property will add time to your rental.
- If they use a shuttle, find out how long the trip
will take you.
- You should always verify the location. Some
Rental Companies will have an on-airport facility at certain airports
while having off-airport facilities at others.
|How will I
get to the rental facility?
- Find out where you are to meet the Rental
Companyís representative. Do they have a fixed meeting place or do
you need to call someone once you arrive.
- Ask if there is a shuttle service available since
both on and off airport facilities may use shuttles.
- If they use a shuttle, find out how often it runs
and itsí hours of operation. See if they will still be open if you
are delayed, you might need a 24-hour facility.
- Find out how far your rental car will be from the
terminal. Get an estimate of the time it will take for you to get to
your rental car.
Where can I find information on
airports so that it will be easier for me to find the rental car counter
or meet the Hotelís airport shuttle?
Go To: US
Airport & Foreign
This page contains web links to many major U.S.
and foreign airports. Although, each airportís site is different many
contain airport layouts and other information that could save you time
and help make your visit a safe one. This links page also lists many
airport codes that can be helpful when making Airline reservations so
you and your luggage will be heading to the right airport.
|What is the
total? Does it include additional fees and taxes?
- Get an estimate of your total charges including
all taxes, fees and any mandatory charges. Unfortunately, the
government gets a big chunk of rental car bills.
- Remember that this total may change based on your
choices of coverage and fuel purchase options.
- Often the rate quoted only includes the per day
or week rental charge.
- Unlimited mileage is often included, but not
always. You'll definitely want to check on their mileage policy. Be
sure to reverify their policy if you get an upgrade. Some companies
that normally offer unlimited mileage do have limits on specialty or
beyond the reservation time will the Rental Company consider this
- This is a great question and one you should ask
the Rental Company in case you are delayed.
- You should notify the Rental Company if you are
delayed so that they will still have a car available for you.
- If you can make it within your reservation grace
period, make sure they only update the pick-up time and donít rebook
the reservation at a new higher rate.
- If your flight is coming in only a few hours
before the rental car facility closes, you may want to consider a
company with a 24-hour facility so a delayed flight wonít continue
to ruin your trip.
|How can I
decrease the chance that the Rental Car Company will break my reservation?
Just like the hotels, the Rental Car Companies
must cover the costs of all those rude people who reserve cars, donít
cancel and never show up. This means that at certain times, especially
during holidays and other peak travel times, they may get caught
overbooking and have to break some reservations. Hereís a few ways to
keep you at the top of the list for available cars.
- See if the reservation center will guarantee
your reservation. Some do offer this service and they will usually
have a much bigger penalty for themselves if they donít have a car
for you. However, to get this guarantee you are usually charged a
fee if you donít show or cancel within a certain time frame.
- Confirm your reservation. Make sure everything
is correct and they are aware youíre coming.
- Update your reservation. If youíre going to
be late, call to let them know.
- Rent often from the same company. Some
reservation lists show high volume renters, and management will know
that you are not the type of customer they want to lose.
- Join their Premium Clubs. These groups include
their high volume renters and their big corporate accounts. If it
comes down to who gets the last few cars, you probably wonít be
seeing the Premium Club members waiting around.
- If you really fear that your chances of getting
burned are high, you might call the location directly and speak with
a manager. Let them know you will be there at a certain time and you
want to make sure youíll have a car waiting. If youíve made that
extra effort and they know youíll be looking for them, most
managers will also make an extra effort to have a car for you. If
you do call and they do produce, donít forget to thank them for
company provide for any insurance coverage?
- If you are on a business rental, check with your
company about their policy concerning rental car insurance coverage.
- Will they reimburse you the expense or should you
decline the coverage?
- If you are to decline, does the company have
insurance to cover the car?
- Will the company provide coverage for additional
drivers of the vehicle?
- If they do cover additional drivers, do those
drivers have to be fellow company employees?
regular insurance coverage transfer to rental cars?
Check these items with your insurance agent before
- Is your policy up to date and valid during your
entire rental period?
- Are you covered in a rental car?
- Is my coverage valid if Iím renting or
driving outside the United States?
- What is your deductible?
- Does your coverage protect you against
underinsured or uninsured motorists?
- Does your coverage pay for downtime, or do you
have to pay the Rental Company for lost rental days while the car is
- Will your coverage transfer completely to any
type of rental, i.e. luxury car, convertible, sports car or van.
- Does your coverage have a time limit that will
only cover part of the rental period?
- Would your coverage transfer to others in your
party that might also drive your rental car?
- Will your coverage protect you against the
medical claims of your passengers and others injured in the
credit card offer enough insurance coverage?
- Most credit cards that say they will cover the
rental car, offer only secondary coverage, so they will look to your
personal insurance to cover the claim and then reimburse you any out
of pocket expenses.
- If youíre depending on your credit card for
coverage, read your credit card agreement carefully so that you can
fully understand the type of coverage they offer.
- You at least want answers to the same questions
that you would ask your insurance agent if you were planning on using
your personal insurance for coverage.
- Ask that current written copies of their policies
be sent to you, so you can read them yourself.
- Make sure you understand their claim procedure.
The renter is ultimately responsible for any damage to the vehicle.
accept the Rental Companyís damage coverage?
- After checking with your agent and credit card
company, you can then make an informed decision about coverage at time
- Weigh the cost of the Rental Companyís damage
waiver and/or accident insurance against the cost of your deductible,
possible rate increase, legal costs and the hassles of making a claim.
- Remember that youíll most likely be driving an
unfamiliar vehicle, on unfamiliar busy roads with lots of new things
to see and distract you while you are surrounded by lots of other
drivers in the same situation.
|Do I need to
confirm my reservation?
Yes, it never hurts to directly reconfirm your
reservation, especially if you depended on someone else to book that
reservation. Also, be sure to verify where you are to pick up your
rental car and that any special requests youíve made are listed on
confirming my reservation, what else should I do before I leave on my
- Make sure you bring your license, check to make
sure it is valid, and that it wonít expire during the rental period.
- Check your credit cards. Make sure they wonít
expire and that your limit is high enough to cover your vacation
budget plus emergencies. If you need your limit raised, call your
credit card company in advance of leaving, since it usually takes time
for the new higher limit to take effect.
- Make sure you have verified your coverage with
your insurance agent and/or your credit card company.
|What if I am
delayed, but will still need the car later?
- Call the Rental Company
directly to update your reservation. Let them know the new time
youíll be arriving so they will still have a car available for you.
See if they will still honor the rate on your original reservation. If
you have to rebook, it may raise your rate.
- Get the name of the person
who updates your reservation. Also, note the time you called.
|What if it
turns out that I donít need my rental car after all?
- As soon as you are
absolutely sure you wonít need the car, you should cancel your
reservation. Keeping cars available for "no shows" is a
major cost to the Rental Companies and this makes the rental rates
higher for everyone who does show up. A few companies are starting to
charge a "no show" or late cancellation fee.
- Although many Rental
Companies don't yet charge a fee for no shows or late cancellations,
some reservations can carry those penalties. This may be the case for
guaranteed or peak season reservations, reservations made as part of a
package deal or reservations for certain luxury or specialty vehicles.
- Note the name of the
person you speak with when you cancel your reservation.
|How can I
find out about the local road conditions before I arrive?
|Go To: Department
of Transportation Links
Check out the roads before you go. This page contains
links to the Departments of Transportation for all 50 States. Each
stateís site is different, but most sites contained detailed
information on highway construction, road closings, rest areas and maps.
Many of the sites also contain links to major cities within their own
|What if I
get there and they donít have a car for me?
- Make sure that it is just not your particular
class that is sold out, but that they donít have any cars at all. If
they have more expensive cars available, ask to be upgraded for the
- If they have other locations in town, see if any
of the other locations have cars available.
- Have them call around to check to see if they can
find you a car at one of their competitors. If the price goes up ask
that the rental company pay the difference.
- If no other cars are available, see if they can
at least get you a ride to your next destination.
- Donít give up. See if they will have any cars
available for you tomorrow.
- If you did everything right and they donít have
a car for you, ask to be compensated.
- This has obviously created a customer service
issue, so you can also look for help in our Customer Service Issues
Rental Company rent to me if Iím a drunken fool?
Huh, NO. If the company has any reason to believe you
are under the slightest influence, they are required to refuse the
rental. Now, we know you know this, but we just wanted you to remember
it when youíre ordering those drinks on the plane.
|How can I
shorten my time waiting for a rental car?
- You can grab their brochures and read about their
policies, so you can quickly make your decisions concerning their
optional programs when you reach the counter.
- Check out the local map and find out where
youíre going next.
- Dig out your documentation, so youíre ready
when they call your name.
- Check into joining a Rental Companyís
membership club to help speed you through the line or skip it all
documentation do I need to pick up my car?
- Bring your confirmation number with you. There
are many reasons they might be unable to find the reservation under
your name. Your confirmation number may be the only way to find that
low rate you worked so hard to secure.
- Have your driverís license, coupons and credit
- Your frequent flyer or other bonus program
numbers you want to be credited.
- Some companies are also beginning to require
proof of insurance if you decline their collision or damage waivers,
so bring along your insurance card.
|Is there a
chance for an even better deal when I pick up the car?
Yes, after you find out what the company has
available for you, ask about upgrade specials. Just as Rental Companies
can sell out of certain models, they can also have too many of a certain
kind around. This could mean big savings for you, that luxury car or
specialty vehicle that was so much more to reserve could now only be a
few dollars away.
|Where do I
return the car and how long should it take?
Find out how much time to allow for returning the car
and making it back to your flight, as well as, the return location.
Also, find out the phone numbers to call in case of an accident or
best way to get to my next destination?
Most Rental Companies provide free maps of the area,
take one. If you havenít yet gotten directions, nowís your chance.
Bring along your hotelís address since the big chains often have
several of their hotels on the same major roads.
|How much gas
should the car have in it when I pick it up?
Most Rental Companies provide a full tank at pick up.
You can check the contract, but you probably signed it out as full, so
make sure that it is full.
|How do I
know if my rental contract is correct?
Since you are signing a legal document, you might
want to look at it. So many people just sign and go and assume
everything is correct. Confirm the return time, location, and additional
drivers. Make sure it matches your reservation pricing. Also, make sure
you are clear on any optional charges you have agreed to pay and that
any coupons or discounts have been applied. This will help you avoid
problems on return, as well as, any potential legal problems. It is what
is in writing that matters; not what you say should be there. If you
have any questions the counter representative cannot adequately answer,
ask to speak with a manager.
paperwork will I need to keep in the rental car?
Verify this on pick up, but you will probably need to
keep your rental contract in the car. Your rental contract might be used
as the carís registration, and it will also prove you have the legal
right to drive the car if you are pulled over. You might want to cross
out your credit card numbers on your rental contract if the Rental
Companyís computer doesnít automatically cross them out for you.
|What do I do
if I have a problem with the car or need to keep it longer than planned?
When you pick up the car, be sure to find out the
phone numbers to call in case of an accident, breakdown or rental
extension. If you donít and the local office is closed, check with
telephone information. Information may list a national reservation
center that is open 24 hours and will be able to help.
options do I have about refueling the car?
You will probably have several; you can usually
replace the gas on your own, buy the whole gas tank up front or pay a
per-gallon refueling charge. Youíll have to listen to each option and
decide for yourself based on your own personal situation.
|Can I just
replace the fuel myself?
Replacing the fuel yourself is generally the cheapest
of your options, but youíll have to find a gas station close to the
rental return location. This can be challenging, because gas stations
are limited around airports. The FAA doesnít allow them too close to
flight paths in case of a plane crash. Airports also tend to be in the
less desirable parts of town, where getting out of your car and pumping
gas can be a safety concern. If youíre going to refuel it yourself,
check the area for safety and find out where the gas stations are
located. Also, leave plenty of time to refuel, return the car and still
make it to your flight.
|Should I buy
the whole gas tank up front?
When considering buying the tank up front find out
the per-gallon charge. It is generally competitive with the local
station prices and will save you the time and hassle of refueling your
own tank. If the per-gallon cost is at a competitive rate and youíll
be using the whole tank, buying the tank up front can be a good deal. It
will be much more convenient than refueling yourself, at about the same
cost. You get to avoid delays and smelly gas on your clothes. However,
you donít get a refund on any unused gas, so if you wonít use much
of the fuel it can be costly and might not be your best option.
|What if I
donít have time to refuel the car when I told them I would?
The Rental Car Companies will usually charge a
per-gallon refueling charge if you didnít take their refueling option
up front. Itís convenient, no delays looking for gas stations, no
nasty gas smell on your clothes, no missed plane, but the per-gallon
charge is often much higher than the local stations. A few gallons at
this rate wonít kill you, but many more than that and it would
probably be cheaper to prepay the whole tank. So, listen to their
options and pick the best one for you.
|What if when
I get to the car, it has existing body or interior damage?
- You might want to ask for another car if youíre
unhappy with the first vehicle.
- Have the Rental Companyís representative
describe the damage on the contract, so you wonít be held
accountable on return.
- Have them put down their name or employee number
and keep a copy.
I do if I lose my keys or lock them inside the rental car?
- Donít, most Rental Companies donít keep extra
sets of keys at their locations.
- Because of liability claims most police
departments wonít let their officers jimmy the locks.
- Check the driverís side door for a key code
panel if youíre just locked out of your car, the Rental Company may
be able to release the code to open the door over the phone. If the
trunk is open check it for stickers, many manufactures print the key
code numbers on a sticker in the trunk.
- Still stuck? Call the Rental Company so they can
recommend what you should do next. They may have the ability to cut
another key or be able to recommend a locksmith.
- Here is the real bad news. Security systems on
cars are getting better and many have ignition keys that are very
difficult to copy. Every year another model is issued with a system
that requires newly cut ignition keys to be programmed into the
carís computer before they will work. The keys themselves have chips
in them and even just cracking the plastic cover on the key can be
enough to make the keys useless. Yes, this will take time and money.
- Before you have someone dispatched from the
Rental Car Company, see if and how much you will be charged. If you
created the problem, there is a good chance youíll be charged. You
may be able to find a cheaper solution yourself. Your auto club
membership or credit card may offer a free locksmith service. However,
donít get too creative, youíll be held accountable for any damage
done to the automobile.
Iím in an accident with my rental car?
- You want as much information as you can get.
- Make sure to get the name and driverís license
number of the other parties involved in the accident. Youíll need to
get a current address and phone number, as well as, their insurance
- You'll want to a
description of their vehicle including its license plate number.
- You'll want to note the
date, time and location of the accident.
- Youíll also want contact information from any
witnesses to the accident.
- State laws vary on the need to report the
accident, but if the accident is serious enough to involve the police,
be sure to get a copy of the police report.
- Notify the Rental Company as soon as possible for
- If you declined the Rental Companyís collision
or damage waiver, youíll need to notify your insurance agent and/or
your credit card company that a claim will need to be made.
- Remember to allow extra time on return for an
accident report if you keep driving the car.
- Depending on the Rental Companyís policy and
the circumstances of the accident, the company may deny you a
I do if I only have a small accident and the Rental Company tells me to
keep the car until Iím ready to return it?
- You can follow their instructions, but make sure
the vehicle is still safe and legal to operate.
- You wonít want to get in another accident or
get a ticket because of a broken taillight.
- You need to leave some extra time planned when
you return the car. Donít cut it close to your flight because
youíll have to fill out an accident report when you return the car.
|What do I
need to do before I leave the rental lot?
- Youíre in a big hurry now that youíve got the
car, but take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with this new car.
- Check the car for interior or exterior damage.
- Find the lights, radio, wipers, turn signals,
cruise control and side mirror controls before you leave the lot.
- Set the seat and the mirrors to a level where you
- Itís also a good idea to study the map and find
the route to your destination before you begin driving.
summer rainstorms cause so many accidents?
These often occur during the heat of the day, when
the heat has pooled oil on the surface of the road. Before the rain has
had the time to wash the oil off the surface, this will first make for
an extremely slick and dangerous combination. You should slow down,
allow for extra braking room and use your low beam headlights during
rainstorms. Using your low beam headlights in a rainstorm is law in
Florida and many other states.
|How do I
avoid confrontations on the road?
Avoid the temptation of road rage. Honking and
yelling at the drivers around you is probably more likely to make
someone get out their tire iron than to help get traffic moving. Be
patient. Also, read our Beware of Scams section.
|How can I
avoid losing my car in the parking lot?
- Remember what and where you parked. You donít
want to spend your time looking for your rental car, the one that is
mixed in with several hundred identical rental cars in a 10,000-space
parking lot. Even worse, youíll have half a lot worth of minivans to
try and see over.
- Check the key chain, many Rental Companies label
their key chains with the carís make, model, color and license plate
number in case you forget.
- Beware the valet, they may give you the right
color, model and even have the right Rental Companyís name on the
key tag, but make sure they give you back the one for which you are
legally responsible to return. Their lot is probably full of rental
cars and mix-ups do and have happened.
some of the road scams that I need to know about?
- Avoid flashing your lights at other cars that are
driving without their lights on at night. This used to be a common
courtesy, but unfortunately some gangs will drive around with their
lights off and pick the first car to flash them as a victim to harass.
You may think itís just an urban myth, but our local police put out
a memo about this to all the Rental Companies this year.
- Beware the pull over. If youíre in a new car
coming from the airport thatís so full it barely clears the ground
or you have those out of state plates, youíre targeted as an easy
mark with a big payoff. Sometimes, criminals will try to get you to
pull over by pointing and saying something is wrong with your car.
They might even fake a small accident, a little tap on your bumper to
get you to pull over. Since this has been used as a scam, youíll
want to be careful about where you pull over if you need to, be sure
to pick a well-lit public place.
- Stick to the major roads, since you donít know
the side streets you might just pick the one all the locals avoid.
Youíll also find more people and better lighting on the major roads;
these factors make the "pull over" riskier for the
|How else can
I avoid being the victim of a crime?
- Many states prohibit Rental Car Companies from
labeling their cars with stickers that identify them as rental cars.
They passed these laws because criminals could use these stickers to
help them target victims. So, if your car has a sticker that
identifies it as a rental car, you might ask that the sicker be
- Always keep your car's doors locked.
- Park only in well-lit parking lots. Check the lot
for safety before opening your doors.
- If you have to leave your valuables in the car,
they go in the trunk.
- Lock the doors since most cars have a trunk
release inside that doesnít need the key to pop the trunk. Many new
cars also have a back seat pass through that makes for easy entrance
into the trunk.
- Donít make yourself a target, flashing
expensive jewelry, lots of cash or even tourist brochures and maps
left in the seats can label you as a potential victim.
- Avoid looking like a tourist. Dress like the
locals and use a local newspaper or magazine to wrap around the
outside of your map and guidebook so you won't stand out as a tourist.
- Keep an eye on all your belongings while at the
rental counters and on the shuttle bus.
|What do I
need to do at return?
- Give the car a complete search before you return
it. Check the glove box, visors, back window area, console etc. or you
may listen to little Kimmy whine for the whole four hour flight home
that she left her souvenir sunglasses in the door pockets of the car.
- Remove all of your keys from the rental carís
key chain or you may find yourself explaining to your spouse that they
should have brought their keys because they should have known you were
going to leave yours on the rental carís key ring. Oh yes, this will
signal that the vacation is over.
- Remove your copy of the rental agreement from the
car, it probably has some personal information printed on it.
- If the car had any problems, notify the return
agent so they can see the car gets fixed before it is rented again.
- Get a receipt when you turn in the car, check to
make sure it is correct and that you have been given credit for any
frequent flyer miles or other bonus program points. If you paid in
cash, make sure your receipt is marked "paid in cash".
trust my hotel to return my rental car?
As a service to their customers, many hotels have
become involved in the rental return process. Some hotels even have a
Rental Company location inside their lobby. Unless you are returning the
car directly to the Rental Companyís personnel, you need to be very
careful about what you do. You signed the contact and you are legally
responsible for the car until it is returned to the Rental Company.
There are many possibilities that the return could be mishandled. You
could end up being charged for additional hours, days, miles, fuel or
even damage to the vehicle. If you plan on using the hotel to return
your car, call the Rental Company directly. They need to be involved to
make sure the return is handled properly.
I do if I have any problem with the Rental Car Company?
- Speak with the counter representative, explain
the problem and ask for it to be fixed.
- If you can think of a satisfactory solution to
the problem, suggest it to whoever is working with you.
- Allow for a reasonable response time considering
the nature of the problem.
- Remain calm and keep it business like. Donít
make it a personal attack against the person who is trying to help
you. The person is human and your professionalism will bring you
better results than unleashing your anger.
- Donít play the "big shot" game unless
you really are one. "Do you know who I am and how often I rent
from you" might be greeted by "yes, once over the last two
years". Computers are doing a wonderful job keeping track of
customers and they may have your information right on their screen. If
you try to fake them out by acting like a big shot, they might just
think you are trying to get something for nothing and doubt your whole
story. You are their customer and that is enough to demand good
- If you donít feel the person whom you are
dealing with is helpful, ask to see a supervisor.
- Calmly explain your situation to the supervisor
and allow them to fix the problem.
- If you have gone up the local chain of command
and are still unhappy, contact the Rental Car Companyís customer
information should I have if I need to contact the Rental Car Companyís
customer service department?
- Write soon after the incident, while the
information is fresh and you are still within time limits.
- Include as much specific information as possible
when describing the problem.
- The date, location and time of the incident.
- Your name, and reservation, confirmation and/or
rental agreement number.
- Keep the originals, but include any relevant
- Name, title, employee number or physical
description of those you dealt with, if you have them.
- If you doubt that you were treated according to
proper company policies or feel those policies donít provide for
proper customer service; question the customer service department
about your treatment.
- Include the effect this problem will have on your
past and future impressions of the company. But, donít baselessly
threaten "In any case, Iíll never use you again", they
might just write you off and leave you unsatisfied.
- If you can think of a satisfactory solution to
your problem, suggest it to the customer service department to give
them a chance to win back your business.
- Include your name, address and telephone number
where they can reach you with their response.