Whether you're traveling out of town on a business trip, taking an extended vacation or just need a different form of transportation for the weekend, renting a car is a convenient and affordable option. But there's money to be saved and inconvenience to be avoided. Zach Pagano finds some cost-saving advice:
• Book early: Book your vehicle as early as possible. Rentals can sell out of available vehicles, especially at busier locations like airports and during peak travel periods.
• Shop online: Along with almost everything else travel related, like plane tickets and hotel bookings, you can often find the best deals, discounts and freebies by performing plenty of researching and shopping online ahead of time.
• Avoid the airport: Look for rental car locations that are located outside of airports. Airport locations often have higher prices due to the zoning and taxes associated with being located on airport grounds.
• Opt for the compact: Unless your trip calls for something larger, only rent as much car as you need. Although compact and smaller rental cars are usually in higher demand by business travelers, you’ll save money on the rental itself and on the gas you’ll use during the rental period. If you’re offered an upgrade to a larger vehicle, be wary of gas guzzlers.
• Check extra thoroughly for damage upon inspection: Most rental car fleets are maintained meticulously, but damages like scratches or dents in the body or spills, stains or tears in the interior can go unnoticed. If you see any wear, damage or defect during the inspection, make sure you immediately make the company aware – or you might end up paying for it.
• Return the rental car on time: Returning your rental car late can cost you money – as much as a full day’s rental, depending on the rental company. Make plans to allow for plenty of time to return your vehicle on time.
• Top off the tank yourself: Although it’s a lot more convenient to have the rental company top off the tank for you rather than you doing it yourself, it’s an unnecessary expense that can be avoided with a quick trip to the gas station.