Although technology has reduced the need to travel for business, you’ll still end up far from home and in need of transportation from time to time, either for business or pleasure. And while the environmentalist in you will say you should take public transportation or walk to get from point A to point B, sometimes you simply need a car to make things work out. You’ll be able to find a satisfactory rental service pretty much anywhere in the world, but the prices may make your mouth drop open. Renting a car is never cheap, and in this difficult economy you’ll have to work even harder to save every possible penny. That doesn’t mean going without a car when you really need one. But there are ways to trim your expenses without losing an ounce of service. Here are five tips for avoiding unnecessary rental car fees.
First of all, consider picking up the rental car somewhere other than the airport. Most travelers will go the airport route, simply for the sake of convenience. But many states actually add fees and taxes to a rental service, just because it is located at the airport. The state needs to maintain that space, and the rental company will simply pass those fees on to its customers. Find a way to get off the airport and into the city, and you could save more than $100 on your rental contract.
Another great option is to make sure you are only paying for a vehicle when you truly use one. It may be more convenient to set your rental car agreement for the full duration of your trip, but if it sits in the parking lot more than half the time that money could probably be used in other ways. Consider the details of your stay, and target the days you actually need a car. If you’re staying in a major city, you could probably get away with public transportation most of the time. Pick a local rental company and only rent the vehicle for the days you plan on using it. You’ll save on the contract, and save again on expensive hotel parking fees.
You should also make sure you take advantage of any discounts you might receive through various membership plans. For instance, the American Automobile Association offers discounted rentals with certain vendors, as long as you give them your membership number when making the reservation. Some credit cards also offer discounts, as do frequent flier programs. Keep all of this in mind when booking your travel, and don’t forget to look for coupons as well.
Speaking of booking, your best bet will be to handle that on the internet. You may be more used to calling the company directly for your needs, but by giving your business to discount travel sites you’ll find the same services at a much cheaper rate. You can use a site like Kayak to bargain shop with several rental companies at the same time, or to bundle your car rental with your airfare and hotel reservations.
Finally, reconsider choosing the prepaid gasoline option. When picking up the vehicle, the rental agent will offer you the chance to prepay for a full tank of gas, so you don’t have to stop and refuel before you drop off the car. While there’s certainly something to be said for convenience, they’ll always charge you a huge premium for this service. Take the time to fill the tank on your own dime, and you’ll have a bit of money left over to put to that protectyourbubble.com rental car damage insurer policy instead.