1) Size Matters
The size of the rental car can impact the price you pay. Terms like “compact,” “mid-size,” and “luxury” can vary across rental car companies. To illustrate car sizes, companies usually provide car models or suggest how many passengers the car seats safely.
2) Shop and Compare
Search across several websites for the type of car you’re interested in renting. To get an idea of the best price you can get, search for rates at individual rental car company websites and price comparison websites.
3) Money-Saving Deals or Specials
If your travel plans are flexible, you may be able to rent a car when price breaks are available. Try searching for specials geared to the length of time you need the vehicle. You may find better deals if you book in advance, or book in combination with a flight or hotel. Read any fine print about restrictions on special offers, including blackout dates when an advertised price may not be available. Some companies also offer special rates for seniors or members of particular organizations, like motor clubs.
4) Question Fees
Comparing advertised rates for rental cars may not give you an accurate picture of the price you will pay. Try to make an “apples to apples” comparison of car rental prices that includes all mandatory fees and charges, as well as charges for options. Some fees may be quoted when you reserve a car online, though you may not find out about all of the charges until you go to the rental office to pick up your car. Read your contract carefully, and look for fees triggered by specific events — like accidents.
5) Your Driving Record Is Important
Many companies check driving records when customers arrive at the counter, and reject those whose records don’t meet company standards. Even if you have a confirmed reservation, you may be disqualified from renting a car for recent violations, including:
- reckless driving
- seat belt law violations
- accidents, regardless of fault
- leaving the scene of an accident
- convictions for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
- driving with an invalid, suspended, or revoked license
Ask the rental car company in advance whether they check customers’ driving records.