Millions of Americans will take the road this holiday season. Visiting family and friends for Christmas and New Year’s Day that we can’t see that often throughout the year is definitely part of the plan for spending a great time together with the people we love and care about. Many will drive their own cars, take the bus or fly from one coast to the other. Others will be in the car rental market.
Whether you’ve rented a car before or you are new to it, navigating the car rental maze can be particularly difficult during this high volume season. Keeping the following tips in mind will definitely make things easier.
5 Tips For Renting A Car in the US During the High Season
Know What You Need
If you are travelling with your family, making sure that everybody is comfortable while in the car is essential. Few things can turn a car trip into a nightmare than having young pitchy voices yelling that they don’t have enough room and fighting with each other over space.
Make sure you take your luggage requirements into consideration. If you’re traveling with a lot of gear you’ll need a car than can comfortably fit all your luggage.
Make sure that the car you want to rent is spacious enough. It’s not a good idea to try to save money by renting a small car and just hoping you can squeeze into it.
Book Your Car As Soon As You Can
As the holiday season approaches, more people will flock to car rental agencies trying to grab the ideal car. In other words, the longer you wait to book a car, the less likely it is that you’ll find a great deal. Don’t leave booking your car until the last minute! You’ll increase your chances of finding better deals and discounts if you start early.
If you’re renting a vehicle for a lengthy period, call the company directly. Since they advertise their fees for daily rentals, you can probably arrange a more competitive deal if you talk to the agent directly and explain to him or her your travel plans.
If you’re arriving to your destination by plane and plan to pick your rental from there, you’ll probably want to reconsider the tempting idea of renting a car directly at the airport or choosing it as your pick up point. You can pay as much as 20% more to rent a car located on airport property so it can be cheaper to take a taxi or Uber to your hotel after your flight and pick up a rental car from a depot in town the following day. Price out both options and see which is cheapest.
Understand What You’re Paying
This is an industry known for playing their tricky games on clients, for hiding information and for using mischievous sales techniques on their customers. There are lots of extra that can be made out to seem like a good deal for you but in reality they’re just about making money. For example, returning the car full is much better than options for returning it empty.
Don’t ever sign anything or hand over your credit card to fulfil payment until you have read the contract. Make sure you understand each point and you agree with it. Double check all charges on your invoice before you drive off the rental car lot. If there’s anything not clear enough, please ask. Agents can be pushy, but remember, that you have the final word!
Don’t Forget About Insurance!
Before accepting the insurance policy that the rental agency offers you, make sure you have explored all your options. Buying the insurance directly from the car rental desk can cost more per day than the actual rental and the coverage offered is far from thorough!
If you already have a car insurance policy that includes car rental damage coverage, you will more than likely have to play a deductible between $500-$1500 and your policy is most certainly going to increase by up to 44%.
Taking advantage of the insurance provided by your credit card may not be a good idea either. It’s only a secondary insurance and the coverage is quite limited: hail damage is not covered as well as loss-of-use or diminished value.
Third party car rental damage insurance such as the one offered by Bonzah.com is an alternative you’ll want to consider. You’ll get primary insurance, which means that you if you need to make a claim you won’t have to pay any deductible or auto premium increases. Besides, it’s a very affordable option with coverage from just $7.99 per day.
Safety Always Comes First
Some of the cars available for rent can be luxurious, eccentric and definitely tempting, especially if you’ve always driven the same type of vehicle at home or you have never had the chance to ride on an SUV or a minivan or you have always wanted to see what it is like to drive an automatic car.
However, going on holidays with your family and having to drive a type of car that’s totally new for you is not the best idea from the safety point of view. Sticking to a brand or model you already know and is the wisest decision, especially if you’re not an experienced road ripper!
Make sure as well that the car you’ve chosen has all the safety equipment you’ll need across the road, especially if you’ll be driving through snowy or mountainous roads that an be tricky. It’s also worth noting that renting a car seat for more than few days can cost as much as buying a new one at your destination or buying a portable car seat like a Mifold or Bubblebum before you leave. Playing it safe increases your chances of enjoying picture-perfect holidays with your family!