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Mistakes People Make When Renting a Car

Renting a car for your next business trip? Don’t make these mistakes!

Prepaying for gas

A question you may be asked at the counter when you pick up your vehicle is whether or not you want to prepay for gas. Unless absolutely necessary, skip this option. Filling the car up yourself is going to be cheaper than having the rental car company do it—100% of the time.

Not refueling before returning the vehicle

Since you will have refused prepaying (smart!), there’s one stop that’s absolutely crucial to make before returning your car, and that’s a stop at a nearby gas station. Most contracts specify that you return the car with a full tank of gas and if you don’t, the rental car company will charge you for it at a very inflated price. After you pick up the car, be on the lookout for nearby gas stations so you can plan ahead. Don’t risk missing your flight because you’re searching for a place to fuel up!

Not utilizing all available discounts

Many membership programs offer considerable discounts on rental cars. The AARP, AAA, Costco and even some frequent flyer programs are just a few places to start. Check the membership websites where these discounts are usually listed.

Purchasing unnecessary insurance

When you get to the counter to pick up your car, chances are you’ll be offered a very pricey insurance policy. You may need it, but in most cases, you probably don’t. Do your due diligence before you leave. Does your current auto insurance policy cover rental cars? What about your credit card? Will they cover you if the card is used to rent the car? Does your company have an insurance policy for this type of situation? These are all options to look into. Keep in mind that insurance policies vary greatly, so make sure you know for certain that you are covered before you decline the insurance at the sales counter.

Not booking through the company’s travel management company

Your employer has a travel management company for a reason. Use them! Travel management companies often have partnerships with rental car companies and have already negotiated a lower rate than you’ll be able to get on your own.

Not inspecting the car before you leave

Inspecting your vehicle before you drive away is a crucial step in renting. Look for absolutely anything that could be considered damage, such as scuffs, loose parts, scratches, stains, etc. You may think that big (or small) problems have already been recorded, but that’s not always the case. Be sure to point them out to the salesperson so you don’t get charged upon returning the car.

Do you have any rental car horror stories that could have been prevented? Tell us about them!

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