Renting a car online is convenient and can save you money over renting a car over the telephone or waiting until you arrive at your destination. Just like shopping online can save you money and time, so can reserving your rental car.
However, as with any business you conduct online, you should take precautions when renting a car online and remember to always read all of the fine print. Even if you have rented a car online before, you would be smart to following these tips for booking rental cars online.
1. Shop around – To get the lowest price for a rental car online, you need to shop around. Check several discount websites like Expedia.com, Hotwire.com and Priceline.com. Do not forget to check the websites for actual rental agencies (Hertz, Enterprise, Thrifty, etc.). You may be able to get a better deal booking directly with the company at times.
2. Beware of fees, taxes and extras – A great online deal for a rental car may not be so great when you add up all the taxes, fees and charges. Make sure to read the fine print and make sure that all the charges are spelled out in detail before agreeing to the contract.
3. Check on insurance before you rent – Before you rent a car online, contact your automobile insurance carrier to inquire if your current insurance covers rental cars. Find out about any exclusions to your policy regarding rental cars. If you are fully covered, you need not pay for costly insurance through the rental company.
4. Check the location before you rent – If you are renting a car at the airport, find out where the counter is located and where the car are kept before booking an online car rental. It is much more convenient if the cars are kept at a lot at the airport. It saves time and hassle if you can avoid taking a shuttle from the airport to the car rental lot.
5. Check late return policies – Buried somewhere in the fine print is a fee for returning the car late. Even for an hour late, the car rental agency could charge you up to a day’s rental charge. This could become costly depending on the late policy. Make sure you understand this before renting the car and allow extra time for returning the car if your schedule is subject to change.
Two important tips to remember when you return the rental car to the agency:
- Fuel up – Returning the car on empty could cost you up to three times as much in a gas surcharge than filling it up yourself.
- Check and double-check the car for personal items. Your rental agreement will probably specify that the company is not responsible for any items left in the car.
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