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The Inside Scoop on Finding the Best Rental Car Deal


ou may think renting a car is a simple as a quick phone call. Well, a phone call will reserve a car, but you may be unpleasantly surprised when you return that car and receive a bill much higher than you expected. Misinformed decisions can add delays, unnecessary expenses, and even major legal problems.


So, before you rent a car, it pays to be informed. Read on for some simple tips that may save you a bundle of cash and avoid a mountain of hassles.

The first tip for finding the best deal is to shop around. Your best source for this is the internet. Log on to sites such as or and follow instructions to bring up a list of competing rental car rates. Just be sure to enter the right information regarding how long you need the car and what type of car you want. Also, keep your eyes peeled for special weekday and weekend rates, deals on unlimited mileage, and the location where you will pick up and return your car.


Always plan on purchasing insurance — the more coverage, the better. No one ever “plans” on an accident, but we all know they happen. Adequate insurance may allow you to walk away from a totaled car owing virtually nothing extra. In fact, you can rent another car from the same company immediately if you are brave enough to get behind the wheel that soon!

As soon as you decide on the details of your trip, make your reservation. Rates usually increase as reservations come in, reducing their fleet of available cars. Be aware that certain types of cars will sell out first, so if you wait, you may have to reserve a luxury car when you could have done fine with a much cheaper compact.


Always book the smallest car you can, but ask about a free upgrade when you pick it up. Also, ask about other size vehicles. Sometimes they have extra cars in a particular class and are offering discounts for renting that size car.

The best rates are often available during the off-season and other times when the rental companies tend to have a lot of cars just sitting around the garage.

Check into vacation packages. These often include airfare, a rental car, hotel, and even tickets to attractions.


Find out about travel discount programs. Many of the largest rental car companies offer membership in these programs, and the discounts on rental cars, airplane tickets, and even hotels are often excellent — and not available though any other source. There is usually an annual fee for membership in these programs, but the discounts you receive will pay you back your membership fee the first time you book a car or a flight. Some credit cars also have discount programs applicable to particular rental companies.


Figure out whether it’s better to take the daily or weekly rate. If you only need the car for five days, you may find that with the weekly rate you are actually getting the car free for the sixth and seventh day. Consider taking these days — you may find yourself having such a great time that those two extra days will be a welcome gift. Whether you rent by the day or the week, make sure you know the company’s policy. If you have reserved on a daily rate, they might not allow you to change to a weekly rate if you want to stay longer. Also, you may be penalized if you return the car early — they might charge you a higher daily rate than you would have received if you booked for the exact number of days you needed.

Now we come to the reputation of the rental companies. Ask your friends, family, and colleagues about their experiences, or consider checking out a company’s service record. See if one particular company has more favorable policies than another, or if one company has penalties that another doesn’t. Also, check out whether you belong to any group or company that offers a discount with a particular company. Sometimes rental car companies have agreements with hotel chains, airlines, and credit car companies.


Go with a company that has a good reputation for the upkeep of their cars and a good customer service reputation. The last thing you want to find out when you arrive at the rental counter toting all your luggage is to find out that the rental agency overbooked and they do not have a car for you, even though you reserved it well in advance. It’s always a good idea to confirm your reservation, including the time you will be picking up your car, the day before you need it.


A well-informed traveler is a happy traveler. So do your research, reserve your car, and then enjoy sliding behind the wheel of a shiny, sleek, seemingly new car.

  Also see:

Financial Automotive Articles

Car Shopping: Leasing vs. Buying -explore the differences between leasing and buying.  Which is best for you?

How to Preserve your Car's Resale Value -What are the most important items to consider in order to maintain your resale value?

How Well Do You Know the Warranty on Your Car? -Dig that warranty out of the glovebox and check on these important facts.

Avoiding Car Sales Scams: The New Car Buying Process -learn about negotiating and other important tips.


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