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Renting a car makes travel more convenient and also gives you flexibility, allowing you to truly explore your new environment. Unfortunately, car rentals can also be expensive, quickly demolishing your vacation budget. In order to save money on your car rental, just follow these useful tips:
Bring your own!
These days we’ve all come to rely on the convenience of GPS navigation, and it’s especially handy when you’re traveling. Many rental cars charge extra for GPS, however, so if you have a portable GPS device at home simply bring it along. Another way to save is to bring your own child seat from home if traveling with children.
Check for damages and get them on video.
In order to avoid surprise charges for old scratches, make a quick video on your cell phone, focusing on any damage. This takes little time and gives you the peace of mind that you won’t be charged for someone else’s fender benders. Then, make an additional video when you return the car, in order to have proof that you’re returning it in the same state that you rented it in.
Check the fuel policy.
Fuel policies can vary greatly. One common fuel policy requires renters to take the car full, paying for the full tank of gas at the car rental site, and return the car empty. This policy can be pretty costly, particularly if you’re not planning to use a full tank of gas. It might be worth shop around for a rental place with a more lenient fuel policy. Many car rental sites include their fuel policy on their websites, and most include them in the rental paperwork.
Save on gas by doing your research.
If you do plan to fill the car yourself you can save money by researching average gas prices in the area you’re traveling to. If you have a smartphone you can download a gas app that tells you the average fuel prices in your area, and also points you toward the best gas deals.
Just say no to extras!
Sometimes the base rate for a car rental is a great deal, but you pay when it comes to fees and extras. Always read the fine print, and decline optional fees wherever you can. Examples of avoidable fees include toll booth transponders, and fees for renting directly from the airport.
Save on insurance.
Car rental companies really seem to push their own travel insurance onto customers, frightening them with tales of costly accidents. Be prepared by doing your research ahead of time. Your regular auto insurance may cover rentals, and if you book the rental with a credit card your credit card insurance may cover collisions. If neither of these are the case you may want to purchase travel insurance. Doing so from an external company will be cheaper than purchasing from the rental car company.
Rent away from the airport.
While renting your car from the airport may be convenient, it can also be expensive, with most rental car companies tacking on airport fees. One easy way to get around this is to see if your hotel offers an airport shuttle, in which case you can rent a car from a site near your hotel. Another option is to ask a rental car agency located near the airport if they offer a shuttle for their customers.
Scope out deal sites.
Many travelers book airfare and hotels through discount sites like Orbitz, Priceline, etc., but forget that they can do the same for car rentals.
Look for package deals.
Many of the discount travel sites offer great packages. If you need to book airfare and/or a hotel, always check the package deals that include a car rental. In some cases the discounts are so steep the car rental ends up practically being thrown in for free.
Rent a compact car.A compact car not only makes it easier to navigate a crowded urban area you’re unfamiliar with, but also saves you money on fuel costs and sometimes on the rental price itself.