Renting a car seems simple enough. Choose your model, drop $20 on insurance, and pray your car is fully functioning and clean. Today, car rental companies are handcuffed into keeping competitive rates which has forced their hand to hike rates across the board.
Here are a few things to watch out for:
Pre pay fuel options , administrative charges, and unlimited mileage are a no
Alamo and Enterprise´s idea of a ¨full¨ tank is different than yours. Outrageous gas charges are known to be assessed on full tanks where the needle is half a millimeter below the F mark. Plus, pre-arranged gas filling (for those too lazy to fill the tank themselves) goes upwards of $7 a gallon. Also, watch administrative charges at the tolls. Using EZ-Pass, Fastrak, and other toll pay programs could assess $25 administrative charges. Expect an add-on fee anytime a traffic authority (speeding tickets, parking tickets) sends a letter to your car rental company.
Lastly, read the fine print if ¨unlimited mileage¨ is offered. This may not apply to out-of-state travel and could put you several hundred dollars in the red.
Avoid the airport
Rental car costs at your airport are up to 40% higher than non airport locations. Secondly, airports are known for outrageous additional fees (think no-name fees you´ve never heard of like ¨customer facility charges¨ for an added 10%.)
Don´t pay for insurance
¨Do you want to add insurance coverage¨ is one of the most overheard phrases coming from the rental car counter. Often times, rental car insurance does the same job as your current insurance, which should extend your coverage to rentals. Plus, rental insurance can cost $30 to $40 a day. That is on average 25% of the total rate. This is one of the most lucrative ways car rental companies pad their fees.
Watch out for $40 car rentals from Enterprise and Avis
Cars priced at $40 more or less are priced as such because the compact car you´ve reserved will not be available at the place when you arrive. More likely than not, you´re looking at a bait and switch into paying for an upgrade three times the price.
Car rental companies are known to milk dent and scratches for every penny. Unless you´ve proven innocence with a photo, its hard to prove otherwise after you´ve signed the damage liability form.