Summer is officially here many of us will be hitting the open road with our families, and this means long, and often very cramped trips.
Rental cars can be just the thing to keep your dream vacation from turning into a bad reality show nightmare. But only if you plan properly and do a little homework
Here are some WAK TIPS to help you find the perfect ride for your summer road trip!
How old are you?
Most rental car agencies require a minimum age of 21, and some require the driver be at least 25. Check around to see what you qualify for.
Find a website that does the shopping for you and compares prices. Compare apples to apples, not Mini Coopers to Minivans! Car sizes, seating accommodations and amenities all affect the price. Make sure you are comparing similar makes/models and sizes, along with options like DVD players, unlimited miles, etc., to get an accurate comparison.
Book your trip early. A favorite summer hot spot or a city that hosts large conventions can limit your options severely because rental cars will sell out quickly.
Are you covered?
Call your insurance company to see what they cover on rental cars. Most will provide ample coverage so you won’t have to purchase the expensive rental car insurance. But always check first.
Be on the look-out for any catches..
Always ask about additional charges when you’re shopping around. You may have agreed to a particular price, but you didn’t factor in insurance, steep taxes, one way charges or off-site drop-off fees at airports and alternate locations. And DON’T fall for gimmicks like “we’ll fill the tank.” ALWAYS return your rental car with a full tank of gas.
Airport agencies are MORE expensive.
You’ll find local rental agencies have better rates than rental agencies located on or near the airports. This is because airport rates are higher than most because their locations include maximum charges to leave the airport.
Get your benefits.
Consider verifying if you are entitled to receiving discounts from a corporate rate, or with benefits from joining a roadside assistance program. Don’t be shy to ask if the agency has upgrades upon your arrival because they DO exist! If you’re planning to be a regular renter, think about joining a membership to receive special offers and reduce expenses. More bang for your buck, ladies!
The new Stingray is more expensive than the Sedan!
You get what you pay for, and you pay for what you get. If you have your heart set on a sporty or high end car, you’ll pay high end rates. If you don’t plan on using extras like navigation or entertainment systems, let the agency know in advance so you don’t have to pay for them.
The rental market is competitive and rates will fluctuate periodically. Check the day before your trip or a few days after you’ve made your reservation to see if there is a change in price. If the agency won’t honor the lower price, keep shopping!
At the agency…
Before you hit the road, take the car for a test drive. Check that everything inside and outside the car works properly.
Make sure the agency records any existing damage, dents or stains on the vehicle before you sign the contract. It’s a good idea to take a few of your own pictures for documentation as well.
Ask what the accident/damage policy is on the car just in case the other vacationers on the road aren’t as skilled at driving as you are. Find out what number to call and what steps to take to get the car fixed, towed or returned.
When all that is done – hit the road and be safe!