5 Money-Saving Rental Car Tips
Whether you're traveling in the high season or low, on a weekend or weekday, it's possible to save money on your rental car without sacrificing comfort or style. Here are five rental car tips and tricks to help you get more for your money at the rental counter:
- Pass on the insurance. Depending on your own insurance coverage and the credit card you used to reserve and pay for your car, you may not need the extra insurance, so check your policies and talk to your agents – and find out what you need before you pick up your keys.
- Rent by the week. A little-known rental car tip is that if you're planning to use a car for 5 to 7 days, renting a car for the week may actually be cheaper than renting it by the day, so explore your options thoroughly.
- Reconsider accepting the free upgrade. Rental agents occasionally "reward" customers with a larger, more luxurious vehicle than they paid for, but before you accept the offer – consider carefully whether this freebie is worth it. After all, a smaller vehicle is generally more fuel-efficient, so if you don't want to pay more at the pump, you should politely decline the offer.
- Beware of the pre-paid fuel option. Typically, when you prepay for gas, you're agreeing to pay to fill the tank as though the tank were empty. In reality, that's not likely to happen – which means that you're essentially giving the rental company free fuel for their car.
- Ask for discounts. Even though you may not think you qualify for a discount, it can't hurt to ask. Depending on your occupation (are you a teacher, first-responder, military member, or over a certain age?) membership affiliation (think AAA and Costco), credit card company, airline member or hold another affiliation? If so, just by mentioning it to the rental agent, you may be able to save big.
Finally, no rental car tips and tricks list would be complete without mentioning that it's best to skip the airport rental desk and pick up your car off site. Depending on the state or city you're visiting, you could pay additional fees, like a daily customer facility charge, concession fees, stadium taxes and more – so if you can, take a taxi to a rental location that's housed away from the airport.