This is a guest post by blogger, David from Car Understanding.
One time I had this weird problem with my car that there was too much tire noise after tire rotation. So, I took the car back to the shop but the mechanic was out and I had an important meeting the next day. I brought home the car and started dialing the rental car agency.
I booked one of the economy cars, went about my day and went to the car rental agency the next day. And then this guy at the reception tells me I need to pay $100 for insurance! What gives?
After that experience I swore off car rental agencies for awhile and just made sure my car was always in tip top shape. Oh, and that tire noise that happened after tire rotation? Apparently there’s a wear pattern and that the left and right tires of my car aren’t supposed to be swapped. I wish I’d known that sooner and saved myself the hassle and money of going to a car rental agency.
But after that experience, it got me thinking, is there something that car rental agencies are not telling us? I was wondering how they can rip off a hundred bucks for insurance just like that. So, I did my research and learned about car rental secrets you don’t know – and I didn’t know either. Read on…
The Secret Insurance
I realized that the insurance that car rental agencies offer are optional. You can actually call your insurance company and even your credit card company and ask them if they cover rental vehicles. For example, cardholders of American Express offer you premium insurance per trip, you just need to notify them in advance.
There are three different types of “insurance” that car rental agencies sell you:
- Damage Waiver – this covers a waiver of responsibility or what rental agencies call “loss of use.”
- Liability Coverage – This type of coverage is for damage to someone else or someone else’s property. If your insurance company doesn’t cover this, then it’s okay to pay for it.
- PER/PPP/UMP – This covers injury, death, or damage to the car occupants. If you are a US resident then you don’t need this as most Americans who have credit cards and auto insurance are already covered. You only need this if you are a tourist from another country.
Membership Perks are Better
Car rental member programs are free and don’t require a credit check. You get access to a lot of perks such as free upgrades or rentals, not having to go through the front desk, newer and better vehicles, and discounts. Better to sign up for that membership should you need to book a rental car.
Weekdays are Peak Days
Most corporate clients book car rental services during weekdays for business trips. Most likely, these are long-time customers and rental companies prioritize them over walk-in customers. So, if there’s only one Camry left and a client comes after you, say goodbye to your chances.
Prepaid Fuel Doesn’t Save You Money
Prepaid fuel saves you the hassle of filling up at the gas station; however, it is not cheaper. Think of it this way – you pay for a full tank but end up using just half of it. Car rental agencies don’t refund you for the fuel that you don’t use up. Also, prepaid fuel is more expensive because of the taxes and fees associated with it.
Last-Minute Bookings are a Rip-off
Avoid procrastinating and book way ahead of time. You don’t save if you book last minute and you will have fewer choices. It also lets you cancel ahead of time, free of charge, in case you don’t need the car anymore. Also, booking ahead will allow you to monitor the changes in rates. You might end up with a cheaper deal.
Booking Agencies vs. Car Rental Agencies
It doesn’t matter if you book from a booking agency or directly from the car rental agency. The prices that booking agencies offer are the same if not for a measly difference. Also, you will notice that most car rental agencies are not really competitors but are part of the same company. Take a look at the facts below:
- Budget, Zipcar, and Payless are owned by Avis
- Dollar and Thrifty are owned by Hertz
- E-Z Rent-A-Car owns Advantage
So, if you think you end up saving more if you shop for rentals, think again, they are just the same people in the same company. However, you may end up getting “manager rates” if you book directly with the car rental agency.
It is also better if you call the rental agency directly when it comes to longer trips. Long-term lease rates are offered by car rental companies through their websites that may not be available on booking agencies’ websites.
Discounts are Accepted
There are websites that offer coupons for car rentals you just have to search for them. Examples are Coupons.com, RetailMeNot.com, and Groupon are the best places to look for deals. Get those coupons in advance; you never know just when you might need them next.
Airport Locations are More Expensive but are Worth it
Airports have an “airport concession recovery” that is charged to rental companies so they end up more costly. However, it doesn’t save you the headache of finding a ride from the airport to the car rental agency. Yes, you end up with cheaper rates if you book directly from a car rental agency, but how would you get there? Also, non-airport locations are usually limited so you will have trouble finding a ride to the airport.
What do you think of the above? Do you also have experiences with regard to booking on car rental agencies? I’m sure at some point you may have, especially those trips when your car suddenly breaks down or the whole lot doesn’t fit in your small hatchback. In my case, it was unfortunate that I did not know the facts above at that time that I needed to rent a car. So, now that I know I already have my membership at a rental car agency – for emergency purposes. I tried booking a car, and yes, it was definitely worth it.
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Guest Author Bio:
David, the founder of CarUnderstanding, is an auto mechanic. He has a personal blog with lots of fun things shared on. Visit his blog to find out more about cars.