When traveling within the same country or to another country, tourists will generally rent cars mostly to avoid putting miles on their own vehicles or enjoy a pleasant road trip to see the countryside.
Generally, there’s only one truly unavoidable cost, and that’s related to age restrictions. Anyone falling under the age of 21 will usually face an exorbitant daily fee in addition to the standard cost. If you’re not paying attention, the price point can add up quickly to well above a set budget.
Someone new to “globetrotting” will typically make one or two taboo moves when hiring a car, not realizing that with some clever planning, you can avoid hidden fees and unnecessary upsells.
Although seasoned world wanderers seem to have it all together, these individuals were not without fault. It took them making all the common mistakes and learning from them before they became expert travelers. Let’s look over some of the more common issues most people don’t think about that often increase costs.
What Are Some Common Rental Car Taboos That Result In Increased Costs
As someone hiring a rental car, it’s essential to research the process to learn the ins and outs, especially if you’re new to the process. Doing so can save significant time, effort and can actually save costs if you gain some insight into a few “tricks of the trade.”
You will be responsible for some unavoidable costs, especially if you’re a specific age. Those under 25 pay an exceptionally higher fee on top of the standard daily rate. In this case, it might be wise to have an older individual take the lead as the primary driver to save the fee. Some other guidance you might find helpful:
● Not all hire vehicles come with unlimited mileage.
If you plan to do a lot of driving, covering extensive distances, it’s essential to search for an agency that offers this perk. Without this advantage, you will likely deal with hefty fines if you go over the limits set by the facility. Some will only provide unlimited for specific locations.
You really need to pay attention to the fine print. For those traveling outside those guidelines, you’ll likely see additional so many cents per mile if you travel beyond a set number of miles every day. That can equate to significant charges when you return the car.
● There are no such things as “free tolls.”
Free tolls are not a thing; you can rest assured these will apply with a rental car. When you don’t have an “EZ Pass” or any type of transponder for payment, how do you presume passing through a “cashless” toll works – who pays the toll fees?
The rental car company automatically takes responsibility for these (as a courtesy) and then charges you a premium cost for doing so. Some of the agencies will not only add the cost of the tolls to your bill, but they will include administrative fees on top of that for handling the expense.
The expense can generate as much as roughly $5 each day or $30 for a rental period, not including the toll fees. That is avoidable if you were to opt-out.
You will need to have the agency close the car’s toll transponder that’s set up in the car and let the agency know you will handle the tolls either online or at the booth in cash. You’ll save considerable costs with this step alone.
● Don’t take out the insurance through the car hiring facility.
Taking car insurance through the rental car company can be construed as a substantial unnecessary hidden fee, especially if you already have good personal auto coverage or a credit card that will cover hiring a car as primary coverage. These agencies typically upsell their insurance to get decent coverage, and it can go as high as a couple of hundred dollars that might not be necessary.
Now, suppose you don’t have good personal insurance. In that case, it’s essential to participate in the plan if anything were to happen (very possible in an unfamiliar location with different roads and laws.)
If you do use a credit card, be certain that there is a “CDW” or “collision damage waiver” as primary and that the car you intend to rent is a covered vehicle. Off-road or luxury options are often not covered, but ensure the country you’re traveling to is an inclusion.
Be mindful these don’t provide coverage for injuries to pedestrians, passengers, or yourself from the accident. Research credit cards to get the best option for these services, and if you already have one, go through it thoroughly to see what it allows. Read here for guidance on rental car insurance.
● You might want to pick up and drop off at the exact location.
If you opt for a one-way instead of a round-trip drop-off, it can significantly increase the final price point – often as much as double or even triple from if you would take it back to the original location.
Sometimes it might be worth it if you’re traveling a great distance, and you’ll need to determine if the fee is something with which you’re willing to contend. But if the distance isn’t that great, it’s well worth returning the car to its original location, and primarily that’s because it’s convenient for the rental agency.
Their exorbitant fees for one-way is because returning to a different site makes the process much less convenient for the agency since they need to find a way to get the car back to their original location. The company makes sure you’re aware of this by charging a heavy surcharge for their imposition.
● You need to understand the rental car period, so you’re not late returning.
Rental car periods generate by the day (24-hours), not in increments of hours. What that means is if you return a car later in the day than what your pick-up time was, you will pay for an entire additional day, even if it might be merely an hour or two. It pays not to be late.
Some companies will offer grace periods of up to a half-hour, but then the hourly rate and taxes will accrue, followed by a full-day charge/taxes. It’s always wise to book for a little longer than you need it so you can be sure to have it back in plenty of time and not face any incurred charges.
● Incidentals are not always necessary; choose wisely.
The infant seat, the navigation system, or any other extras that would be considered an upsell need careful thought and consideration since these fees can add up substantially. If you have a car seat, bring it.
Yours is likely sanitary and a specific fit for your child. Accepting one from the facility will likely require disinfecting to your particular standards and ensure an adequate size.
Most phones offer a state-of-the-art navigation system with downloadable maps that can reveal any GPS system provided by the rental agency. But, there is a saving grace if you do your homework.
There are car rental facilities that will provide extras at no cost. It takes some research, but they are out there. Otherwise, use what you have and save a pretty penny.
A primary taboo is not checking the vehicle before driving away. Enlist the representative’s services and do an entire once over of the car, including finding features, checking fluids, tires, and even a test drive. Plus, never return the vehicle with an empty fuel tank. You will pay exorbitantly for that.
It can be challenging when you’re new to renting a car. One of the best pieces of advice from seasoned travelers is to start with one of the more recognizable agencies like Goautos-Leiebil and compare their policies and practices against your specific needs. Then go down the list of possible mistakes you can make with these companies and how to avoid them.
Fortunately, once you get the hang of rental car road trips, you won’t want to travel any other way.