Category: Tips & Tricks

Tips and tricks of the trade when renting cars.

Renting A Car Abroad?

Renting A Car Abroad?

Traveling abroad for business? Exploring a new country? International car rentals are an excellent option for travel but before you get on your flight, there are important things you need to know. Let’s prepare you for your trip!

 

What You Need Before You Leave

We encourage all international car rentals to be booked and prepaid online while you’re home and to do so way before your trip begins. First of all, you can comparison shop on third party sites in advance to get the best competitive prices. You’ll also save money with a prepaid discount and a locked in price. When you do this, keep records of your receipt and confirmation number. Having your booking paid and finalized will also saves stress! With new countries comes language barriers and exchange rates. Taking care of the car rental while you’re at home helps you avoid potential booking issues at the counter.

Another detail to take care of at home is your International Driving Permit (IDP). This is essentially a form that translates your license info into 10 different languages and is valid form of identification in 150 countries. If you’re traveling to a country with an unfamiliar language, your IDP will be able to identify you to foreign law enforcement or other identification officials. Apply for your IDP online through the American Automobile Association, better known as AAA, website. Once you fill it out, you can drop it off to your local AAA branch. An IDP costs around $20 U.S. dollars, treat it like your passport.

 

What to Know Before You Go

Alright so you decided you’re going to book your car rental online and you are going to get an IDP. Great! When you’re booked and ready for travel make sure you read the local branch policy of the car rental agency you’re using. We still have to go over some international driving facts before you make your plans official.

Research the driving culture of the country you’re visiting. What side of the road do they drive on? Driving on the opposite side of the road may be challenging! What are the road conditions? In many foreign countries, the roads are not maintained as well and paved as smoothly like most roads in the states. There can be sharp turns and severe winding roads. If you are not confident in your driving skills then this can be dangerous. Are you considering adding insurance to your reservation? Before you do that, check with your credit card company to find out if they cover you for international car rentals. You’re covered? Bring proof of insurance to show your rental agent at the counter.

What size car does this country drive? A lot of overseas countries drive smaller, compact vehicles. When booking make sure you are getting a car that can fit you and whoever you are traveling with and don’t forget to consider your luggage! An economy class vehicle in Italy may not be what you’re used to at home. Be careful with the car class you choose and be sure it can accommodate your party and luggage. Last, but not least, can you drive stick? Driving manual cars is the norm internationally. If you are a pro at driving stick then you’re good to go. If not, you might have to pay premium for an automatic.

 

Bon Voyage!

Like all other aspects of a trip abroad, there needs to be research. Have any other questions? Reach out to your vendor, via email or call their U.S. branch, and ask questions! The more you know before you go, the better your trip will be.

How to Speed Up the Car Rental Checkout Process

How to Speed Up the Car Rental Checkout Process

You’re traveling for business and your meeting is over in the next state. You and the family have a flight to catch. There is no time to waste! Here are some ways to speed up your checkout experience to help get you to your destination on time.

 

Choose the Right Car

For drivers on a tight schedule, we suggest going with a no frills vehicle that will likely be ready-to-go in the lot. Typically, luxury cars are lower in number than basic economy vehicles. By choosing a luxury car you run the risk of waiting for one to be returned, cleaned or made available on pickup day. Save time, pick simple.

 

Prepay Online

Rental companies want your guaranteed business so almost all of them offer a prepay option. This is a great way to cut time in checkout by skipping the car rental contract process. To learn more about the benefits of prepaying, click here.

 

Prepare for the Credit Card Hold

For security reasons, rental companies will freeze an amount (depending on the reservation details) on your credit card account. If you do not have enough funds to accommodate this credit card hold then you will be financially limited on your trip or unable to rent the car at all. Upon booking, call your branch ahead of time to discuss the credit card hold amount in order to prepare.

 

Check-In Online

Some rental companies, like Hertz and Alamo, offer online check-ins for their drivers. This means that, similar to online airline check-ins, customers can submit their information ahead of time. So, while you’re waiting to get your rental, you can use that time to easily give your info to the vendor. The information needed will be driver’s license details and personal identification questions.

 

Make an Airport Game Plan

Picking up a rental car when your flight lands? Take a look at the destination airport’s map to know which terminal you will be arriving in, where baggage claim is located and where your rental will be ready for pickup. Knowing in advance where you need to go shaves time off your pickup experience.

 

Know Your Flight’s Arrival Time

Call your pickup branch and learn the rush hours for rental pickups. If possible, choose a flight that will get you to your rental branch during a slow time. This will save you from waiting in line.

 

Pre-Select Your Add-Ons

Need a car seat, a GPS, insurance or just about any other add-on? Pre-select these extras in advance so it is already in your rental contract. Doing this will let the vendor know ahead of time what you need and saves the extra step of adding them at the counter.

 

Join a Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs puts you on a higher priority level than the typical customer. Perks include skipping the line to the counter and getting a speedy checkout experience. Examples of loyalty programs are Budget Fastbreak and Dollar Express.

 

Use YOUR Credit Card for Additional Fees

If you’re using a credit card that is not yours and you intend on adding on extras to your reservations the owner of the card will need to be with you. If they are not with you at pickup and you need to add amenities to your rental then you will need to fill out extra paperwork. This is a common scenario for people who booked with a company credit card. If you have no intentions of adding anything to your rental then put your own credit card information down in the event extra charges are incurred later on. Insisting on using another card for possible additional charges requires paperwork at the counter.

 

Have Personal Identification Accessible

Upon checkout, your clerk will ask for your driver’s license and credit card. Be organized. Searching your bag for your wallet wastes time! Keep these important cards close to the top of your bag for a quick transaction.

Car rental companies want you to have a happy and efficient transaction experience. They offer a multitude of options to save time and skip steps at the counter. Help them help you!

Can I Bring My Pet in My Rental?

Can I Bring My Pet in My Rental?

It’s time to plan a trip! This typically exciting time for a family usually becomes bad news for one family member—the pet. We understand, whether you have a beloved family pet or an adored service animal, you want to take your furry friend along. A happy pet makes a happy owner and bringing your dog on vacation is preferable to a few nights in a kennel.

Let’s get to the bottom of it. Car rental vendors don’t initially include pet fees upon pickup. Rental car companies assess the damages when the car is returned to see if the vehicle needs cleaning. If the car is returned with obvious damage like odors and stains, the vendor will need to deep clean the car which comes with a $250 fee (before taxes) on average. This fee will be charged regardless if the animal is for service and support.

Why? Well, rental companies want to rent out your vehicle quickly after it’s returned. Anything that slows down that turnover, like a deep cleaning, will translate into a fee for the previous renter. This is the same way rental companies handle smoking. Vendors are mindful of their customers’ allergies and comfort so pet hair and strong odors put the car on hold from being used.

 

Rental Car Pet Policies

Since this is a common concern, pet policies are typically found on a rental company’s website. If you’re using a third party site, like AutoRentals.com, do some research on different companies’ pet policies on their personal websites before renting. Trips With Pets is a good online resource for pet-friendly rental companies—check it out here.

The common thread between all pet policies is to return the car clean. Some major vendors have more requirements. For example, Alamo and Enterprise only allows pets in their rentals if they’re kept in their crates; service animals are excluded from this rule. Companies with specific pet policies, like Budget, are open to forgiving damages (depending on severity) for service animals only. Other vendors, like Avis and Hertz, have no requirements other than to return the car in the same condition as you picked it up.

 

Can’t find the Pet Policy?

If you cannot find a company’s pet policy online DO NOT ASSUME it means there is no policy. If you are unsure, call your exact pickup branch and ask about their stance on pets. Make sure this is done before you book so you can prepare yourself and your pet for the trip. Also, if the rental company is not pet-tolerant then you have enough time to find another vendor for your needs.

 

In a Nutshell

To keep it simple, if a car is returned with an animal odor, pet hair, soil stains or other interior damages, you will be hit with a cleaning fee.

When Should I Get Rental Insurance?

When Should I Get Rental Insurance?

Before you read further, do you know the different types of insurances and what they cover? No? Learn more here.

While we love to save you money, there are times when car rental insurance really IS in your best interest and it doesn’t always have to cost you an arm and a leg. While it would be nonsensical to get insurance when you’re already covered, there are some instances when you need to protect yourself (and that rental!).

When you don’t have insurance OR the insurance you have is minimal: If you don’t have car insurance,  you only have liability insurance, or you have a very high deductible, you will need to opt for the rental company’s loss damage waiver. With No insurance, you will also need to get supplemental liability.

When traveling abroad: More often than not, your car insurance company will not cover you outside of the United States—call to verify. Your credit card company might cover international travel but it’s a slight chance. Don’t take your chances here though, 9 times out of 10 you will need rental car insurance.

Business Travel: Did you know that if you are traveling for business, your personal car insurance may not cover you at all? If your company won’t cover your rental car, check in to see if your car insurance company will protect you. If not, you will need to get the car rental company’s insurance.

Better safe than sorry: If you’re the type of person who will spend the entire trip worrying because your rental isn’t coveredget the rental insurance. The last thing you want to do is have your trip ruined by worrying about a rental car. If you are traveling somewhere that is highly populated (NYC, Los Angeles, etc.) or has a difficult terrain (off-road campsite, the mountains, etc.) and you’re worried that something happening that can affect personal car insurance rates—get the rental insurance.

Your personal car insurance policy applies to your rental in the same way it does to your regular car. You run the risk of your rates going up if you file a claim; if you buy the rental insurance, there is no need for concern.

Car Rental Insurance—What to Know

Car Rental Insurance—What to Know

Here you’re asking yourself again, “Do I really need car rental insurance?” The answer is probably but NOT ALL OF IT. Before you start rolling your eyes, let us give you the long and short of it. Bottom line is that you need to have insurance coverage to cover yourself and the rental. However, you may already have it. Don’t get caught having to pay a pretty penny (up to $40/day) at the counter before you have to—it’s negotiable. Here’s what you need to know.

 

Good News: You Could Already Be Covered (mostly)!

Here is how you find out what you do or don’t need before getting sucked into paying for rental insurance—just to get the counter person to stop talking.

 

STEP 1: Check your car insurance policy—if you don’t have insurance go to Step 2!

If you already have car insurance, you should be covered as long as you have liability, comprehensive, and collision coverage.

Most states require liability insurance which typically carries over to a rental car. As long as it does carry over and you have enough liability coverage, you can deny the rental company’s supplemental liability insurance.

You might want to double check if you have comprehensive and collision insurance since it’s not always required. Many people opt out of these insurance options, especially if they have an older model vehicle or one with high mileage. Comprehensive insurance covers your car in the event of any non-driving related events such as, vandalism or theft. Collision coverage assists with paying for damage to your car from any type of crash.

NOTE: There is still a chance you could owe money in the event of an accident, vandalism, or theft of the vehicle. Often, car rental companies can charge for loss-of-use in the event that a vehicle is out of commission. The loss-of-use fees cover any money the company could have made by renting out the vehicle during the repair process and they could rack up a hefty bill. Ask your insurance policy if that is covered, commonly it is something insurance companies don’t pick up.

** Call your car insurance provider with any questions instead of looking through your policy, they can usually tell you very quickly. You can also use their FAQ section online or chat online with their help representatives.

 

Step 2: Call Your Credit Card Company

In an effort to make sure you bring their credit card on your trip, credit card companies are now offering secondary car rental insurance as a perk. The catch is, you must pay for the entire rental with that card. There are many credit cards with travel rewards they can be found here: Best Travel Cards of 2017.

Of course, different cards come with different benefits. To find out more, call your credit card company and ask if they have any car-rental-specific travel benefits associated with your card. Be sure to ask if any restrictions apply. Personal Property and Medical Benefits are not covered by credit card companies. However, you may have those areas covered already (keep reading).

**Credit Card companies only provide secondary coverage. These benefits will only fill in the gaps of costs not covered by your personal car insurance (they can include loss-of-use fees). If you want to take advantage of any of these benefits, you will have to decline the rental insurance.

 

Step 3: Do you have Health Insurance? How far will it cover you?

If your heath insurance covers you anywhere, you don’t need the personal accident insurance provided by the rental company.  If you already have personal injury coverage and medical payments covered through your regular auto insurance—you’re covered.

 

Step 4: Homeowner’s or Renter’s Insurance

You definitely want to call and check this one. Often, your homeowner’s, or home rental, insurance covers your personal property wherever you take it, including a rental car, on a trip. Before assuming this, call your insurance provider to ensure there isn’t any additional paperwork that must be provided to verify what you’re taking, where you’re staying, or what to do in the event something happens.
As long as you’re covered, you can skip on the rental insurance company’s personal effects coverage.

 

Step 5: Travel Insurance

OK, we know, you’ve had enough of this insurance discussion. We promise, this is the last step to have all the insurance types covered. If you decided to get travel insurance, check to see if it includes car rental collision coverage. You also want to know if it is primary insurance or secondary. Primary means you will not have to use your regular car insurance policy coverage in the event of an accident. If it is secondary, it will only kick in after the coverage of your regular car insurance to cover anything your primary did not cover.

 

Decoding the Contract

At this point, we should all know we can’t ignore the fine print. If you don’t know that … DON’T FORGET THE FINE PRINT. Here’s a little help for understanding what all of those acronyms mean that nobody understands—we like to keep it all in once place for you:

LDW/CDW: The loss damage waiver and collision damage waiver. These waivers protect you against any liability in the event your rental car is vandalized, stolen, or damaged in a crash. It is possible these can let you off the hook for loss-of-use charges (fees rental companies can charge you for losing use of the care while it is being replaced or repaired).

Liability/SLI: Liability insurance or supplemental liability insurances are used to relieve you of incurring any personal costs if you damage someone else’s vehicle or property while driving the rental car. It might also cover any medical bills if anyone is hurt in the accident you caused.

PAI: Personal Accident Insurance will cover medical costs for you and any of your passengers in the event you’re hurt in an accident in your rental car.

PEC: Personal Effects Coverage will cover your personal items if they are stolen or damaged in your rental car.

 

Bottom Line: Do The Research

Just like all other aspects of your trip, you need to do some research. Chances are, you’ll need some type of car rental insurance to be fully covered but you can have peace of mind and fully enjoy your trip. You can check out our great car rental insurance offers, by clicking here, along with our great prices comparing all the best car rental rates wherever you’re going. Quick. Simple. Easy. Thanks for choosing AutoRentals.com!

Great, now you’re informed on the different types of car rental insurance. Want to know when to use each type? Learn more here.

Should I Prepay for My Car Rental?

Should I Prepay for My Car Rental?

All rental vendors want your guaranteed business, therefore most of them like to offer their customers a “pay now” or prepay option. This allows you to pay for either the entire sum, or a large percentage, of your reservation in advance. For the most part, prepaying will charge the funds in one major payment so, be mindful of how much money you have available on your credit card. BUT, there are some perks to this strategy.  Prepaying typically comes with a 10-15% discount as a little “thank you” from your vendor.

There’s a lot to consider with prepaying, so let’s discuss if your trip is a good candidate for it.

 

Budget-friendly

A major perk for prepaying is saving money and stress. Like mentioned earlier, prepaying can save you 10-15% on total costs. Also, knowing in advance how much your rental costs is helpful when planning and budgeting for your trip.  As it was mentioned earlier, prepaying means one big, immediate transaction so make sure you can afford it at the time of booking.

 

Changing Trip Details

Depending on the vendor, prepaid reservations are set in stone which does not allow much room for any changes or adjustments. Other companies, may allow you to adjust your reservation but it might be more difficult or time-consuming than a non-prepaid scenario.

 

Cancelling Your Reservation

Depending on the vendor, you may either get a partial refund or, more likely, no refund at all. Regardless, most companies charge a cancellation fee for prepaid bookings. If you need to cancel your trip for any reason try to do so as soon as possible. Cancelling a prepaid trip more than 24 hours ahead of your pickup time, you get charged a $25* cancellation fee. If you cancel within the 24 hours before your pickup time, the fee increases to $50*.

*Fee prices are an industry average.

 

The Bottom Line

Rates fluctuate daily therefore today’s seemingly great deal may seem overpriced tomorrow. The best way to save money is to check rates everyday. Reliable third party sites, like AutoRentals.com, assure the lowest possible rates. If you are looking to prepay then check a third party travel site to make sure you are saving money.

If you are considering prepaying, inquire with a few rental suppliers about their policy on adjusting/cancelling prepaid reservations. This can be looked up online or by phone. If you are using a third party site then there are available links to find out vendor-specific contact information.

Booking with a Third Party Site—How to Save the Most

Booking with a Third Party Site—How to Save the Most

We know that booking a trip can be very stressful and confusing. Picking a location can be hard enough but then you have to make the plans. These days, everything is expensive which is why you have third party sites like AutoRentals.com to help you compare and find the best rates for your car rental. Third party booking is ideal for bargain hunters who want to maximize their travel savings and don’t mind using different car rental vendors each time they travel. Below you will find some tips to help you stretch your vacation budget by saving on your car rental using our third party site.

 

How Do They Work?

Well, unfortunately, we can’t speak for ALL third party sites but we can speak for ours—AutoRentals.com. Our goal is to provide the car rental rates from as many car rental vendors as possible to show you all possible options and assist you in making the best, cost-effective choice. We want it to be quick, simple, and effective.

We are NOT a car rental vendor, we don’t have a fleet of cars to rent you. We simply gather all the information from the car rental vendors (big and small), other third party discount vendors (Orbitz, Priceline, Hotwire, etc.) and present it so you can have all the necessary information.

The idea behind AutoRentals.com is to make renting an easy experience while also giving the best rates to our customers so they can rent the type of vehicle they’re looking for. Other companies partner with us because they want to be competitive! Not a bad deal for you, right?

 

Benefits

Third party sites, like AutoRentals.com, allow complete transparency for comparing prices and rental packages. Third party sites want to be honest and show the lowest price because we serve you—the customer.

TIP: Always look at the total price not just the price per day. Different vendors structure their pricing differently and third party sites can’t change their pricing. Some vendors make their daily rate very low but will add high taxes and fees causing the total rate to skyrocket.

Shopping on a direct site only allows drivers to see one vendor’s pricing and packages. By providing side-by-side pricing, third party sites save time in the trip planning process. No need to jump back and forth between car rental sites when all the necessary information is in one place. Price comparisons can be adjusted for all travel durations, days of the year, and locations. We also provide filters so you can see exactly what you’re looking for.
Another perk of third party shopping is getting special deals. Rental suppliers and third party sites can work together and give budgeting customers a lower price than the direct sites. This benefits the supplier by building a potential loyal customer and also helps the site give their consumers rock-bottom prices.

TIP: Join free member programs such as Hertz Gold, Dollar Express, Thrifty Blue Chip, Avis Preferred, Budget Fastbreak, etc. When you’re a member of these programs, if they have the cheapest rate and you decide to book with them (even though our site), you will be entitled to the best service.  After booking or at the counter, you can call the company and see if your points can be applied to your account.

 

What our Critics Say

Third party sites have very low rates so, sometimes rewards programs are unable to be utilized if the rate is already discounted. You can always ask the vendor over the phone or at the counter if your points can be applied to your account.
You can also occasionally get “manager rates” by booking directly through the company. However, this is very unlikely. You would get these by checking on the company’s website.

 

Keep This in Mind

When you book through AutoRentals.com, very often you’ll be booking through the actual vendor, just at the cheapest rate. We provide the service of showing you everyone’s rates, comparing them for you, and connecting you to whatever vendor you choose in most cases. With that being said, there really is no difference, no cost, and you are simply saving time.

We look forward to serving you and making your trip planning just a little bit easier!