Rent A Car | Bromberg’s How To
Rent A Car 101
Ever wonder if you are getting ripped off at the rent a car place? Does one company charge significantly higher fees than another? Do they do sneaky things to make you think you are getting a deal when you are not?
If you have ever rented or considered renting a car, then you should read this!
Renting a car can be a challenging affair, so let me break it down:
Step 1: Picking a company
Just because you have a “discount” does not mean it is the best rate! The best way to figure out which company to choose is to first ask yourself what kind of car, how long, and why. Maybe you pick Hertz because it is the closest to your house. Maybe you pick Avis because you get a corporate rate. Perhaps Enterprise is your best option because they are big on customer service. I tend to find that Enterprise has overall lower rates. Hertz has better rates if you only need the car one way and know special ‘discount codes’ that significantly reduce the cost. Other companies may be preferred if you care that it is a European or Asian vehicle, which may or may not be at the main companies.
Step 2: Know the loopholes
You know how some sites like Priceline let you get lower prices if you are flexible about certain aspects of your travel plan? There are indeed sites that can save you for renting a car but you have to pre-pay and know your exact dates. The other catch is that they do not tell you the company until you purchase it but they usually guarantee a major brand name. This option works best if you are flying to a place and need a rental car for a definite period of time to get you to and from the airport. Doing this can definitely save money but you cannot get a refund if you later decide not to rent a car this way. One site that works these deals is Hotwire.com. That site is known for hotel deals which works well if you do not care about where you stay, they just tell you if it is a 3-star or whatever star facility.
Also, discount codes can save you big bucks. If you are a member of AARP, for example, you can get a small discount at many companies including Enterprise. The auto club (AAA) has connections with Hertz but sometimes those discounts are limited or mediocre at best. Hertz is tricky because you can enter in a discount code for, say, 20% off and then also if you are lucky you might get a separate rate code to get an additional discount. That, of course, doesn’t always work or isn’t always available—but I have done it.
Step 3: Be careful of extra insurance costs
If you have ever rented a car you know that they always try to get you to buy extra insurance and you feel like a jackass if you decline it. The so-called “peace-of-mind” policies look good on paper but usually it is just a clever way for the rental car company to make extra money. What you are paying for, basically, is the opportunity to just “walk away” from the company should there be any damage to the car in which case your insurance company wouldn’t have to know anything about it. The last time I rented a car, someone had actually driven a car into the wall of the office, and the employee said that this person had the full insurance so the cost was “on them” and the customer just walked away. Now, if you want to save money, you do what I do: Don’t get the insurance. If an accident happens, there might be a way around it. I called my credit card company and it turns out that they paid the damages, at no cost to me. Sure, I have to fill out a form, which takes me five minutes, but then I get to sit back while the rental car company gets to work it out with the credit card company—and I don’t have to pay any deductible or extra insurance to anyone. Not all credit card companies offer this but yours might, so you might want to ask just in case.
Step 4: Don’t pre-pay for fuel
Yes it is inconvenient to stop and put gas in the car before you return it, but you will likely save money by doing that as opposed to paying them for the tank.
Step 5: Ask for discounts if your car is in the body shop
Some companies will give you a special rate if the car is in the shop or they worked out a rate for your particular body shop.
Step 6: Expect great customer service
Rent-a-car is a competitive industry: if you are treated poorly, do not hesitate to go somewhere else. These days, most companies SHOULD go out of their way to make sure you stay their customer.
Whether you are just renting a car for a day or for a month, following these steps can save you hundreds of dollars. I usually will go to Enterprise or Hertz depending on what I need, but any company can jack you around or give you super low prices so it is worth it to do a bit of homework. Oh and when in doubt, make your reservations on their website, never in person. Any other tips, tricks, comments, or questions? Post it now, or forever hold your peace.