Five Things To Do When Renting a Car

5 Things to Do When Renting a Car
Car rental seems fairly-straight forward. Borrow a car for a certain amount of time and pay its use. Decide whether or not you’ll fill up the tank upon returning the vehicle. Done, right?
Questions like extra insurance, refueling, driving in a foreign county can make what seems to be a relatively simple interaction become a stress-inducing interaction.
So here are five things you don’t need to do or shouldn’t do when renting a car, as inspired by a Smarter Travel article.
1. Don’t pay for prepaid gas charges.
Unless you don’t want to deal with this at all, or you’ll be catching a pre-dawn flight, you don’t need this. One way to avoid the hassle is to be sure you know where you can refuel. In other words, when you leave with your rental car, be on the look out for a gas station. Look around for the cheapest price for gas and fill up on your way back to the airport.
2. Check your insurance
Before you leave home, contact your auto insurer and find out if your policy covers rental cars. In general, whatever coverage you have for your vehicle is the same for rental cars because technically the rental is a replacement for your car. In fact if your rental is more valuable than your own car, most policies will cover it. However, typically an accident in a rental will raise your raise is you make a claim on your policy, just like your own vehicle.
It’s also likely that whatever your insurance doesn’t cover — such as “loss of use” insurance — will be covered by your credit card. In fact, there are instances in which credit card coverage in better than your insurance policy. Just make sure you actually use the card to pay for the rental, and that you confirm what they cover beforehand.
3. Ask for upgrades
When renting a car, always ask for an upgrade. You never know what you’ll get.When you’re renting your car online, reserve the /smallest-size vehicle you’re willing to use, but then as about upgrades at the rental desk. The agent at the desk has the ability and discretion to issue the upgrades, so put on the charm and ask if they’re able to bump you up. Be careful of what you get upgraded to. We know someone who was supposed to get a Ford Fusion and was upgraded to a Jeep Wrangler, and his gas costs doubled on a 900-mile trip.
4. Don’t skip the inspections
Remember how closely you inspected your own car when you purchased it? Do the same with your rental. Looks for scuffs, scratches, loose parts, working power windows and mirrors. Take pictures of everything, even if the agent says they’ll mark it down on the rental form. Take a video or zoom in and take individual photos of any damage, even if the agent says it’s on the form already.
Do the same for the final inspections. You may be in a hurry, but take 60 seconds to walk around the car and take a video and photos of the condition it’s in. Many disputes arise from rental companies filing damage claims against a renter after the renter has already flown home. It becomes a game of your word against theirs, so don’t take a chance.
5. Be careful crossing international borders
Most US car rental agreements do not allow for their automobiles to be driven across international borders into Canada or Mexico. What’s more, insurance companies may not cover international rentals. Again, check your policy and with your credit card company to see what coverage they provide in these situations. Disregarding insurance coverage and traveling outside the country where an accident happens, and you could find yourself in very deep trouble.
What tips do you have for your fellow car renters? Any suggestions or stories to help us know what to do for the next time we’re renting a car? Tell us about it on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream. You can also find us on our Instagram page at @TravelproIntl.
Photo credit: MPD01605 (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)