Top Car Rental Tips Before You Hit The Road

Updated: January 3, 2022
Author: TripsGuard

If you’re looking to rent a car, you’ve come to the right place. Before heading out on your next big road trip, be sure to utilize these top car rental tips before you hit the road.

What you should know before renting a car

If you’re planning a road trip or even just a long day out and about, renting a car might be a smart move. But before you make your reservations, read up on these rental tips to ensure that your experience is smooth from start to finish.

Many people are surprised by some of these hidden costs when they check out at their local car rental company, but by making sure you understand everything before signing any papers, you can be sure that your vacation goes smoothly.

Compare prices and options

It’s worth your time to shop around for car rental prices. With many meta-search engines and travel apps out there, it’s easier than ever to get an idea of where you can get a good deal on a car.

Before booking with anyone car rental agency, be sure to compare prices and options online so you know what you’re getting into and so that you have some negotiating power if they are trying to charge extra fees or not include certain services.

Even though it sounds so obvious to you sometimes you forget about this initial and critical step, you will be surprised to find out how much you can save

Book in advance as much as possible

While you might think last-minute deals are your best bet, it’s best to book as far in advance as possible. Discounts on car rentals, especially luxury vehicles, will increase as you get closer to your scheduled pick-up date.

If you plan, there’s a chance you can score a deal on luxury car rental in Miami—or any other city—that rivals what is offered for last-minute travelers.

Make the required insurance without unnecessary extras

You probably don’t need to buy a collision damage waiver (CDW) or personal accident insurance if you have a credit card that includes those kinds of protections.

But some credit cards only cover your vehicle, while others don’t include CDW and PIP, so always check before you leave.

If you don’t have a credit card, most car rental companies offer basic CDW coverage starting at around $10 per day.

Make sure you do not pay for services that you can get for free, such as navigation or music

If you’re driving in an unfamiliar city, free navigation is an absolute must. Most car rental companies provide free navigation these days, but if it doesn’t come as part of your package—or if you’re feeling frugal and want to save some cash—you can get good service by downloading a GPS app before you hit the road trip. (It helps to have a smartphone.)

Avoid picking up from locations that are very central such as an airport

One of our favorite tips is not to pick up a car from a location that’s very central such as an airport.

This is because you may end up spending more than you would if you picked it up from a local store instead.

For example, if you need to get to and from airports frequently, consider getting your vehicle at a local company rather than renting one inside an airport terminal where costs are typically much higher.

If possible, it is best to choose one driver

This is critical. If you are traveling with more than one driver, divide up duties and stick to your tasks. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in traffic with an unorganized driver trying to figure out where to go next.

A road trip is no time for egos or freeloaders! It may be easier to travel with a friend that you can trust, but it may not be necessary.

Also any driver you add to the insurance will of course cost you accordingly, so if possible, register only one driver in the insurance, it is better not to have a young driver as it micromanages the insurance.

Make sure the rental company has a new and improved cleaning policy following COVID

A lot of companies changed their cleaning process after a Coronavirus outbreak, which led to some bad press for all those car rental companies, including Hertz and Avis.

They moved away from using towels to clean cars (to prevent cross-contamination) and began using disinfectant wipes instead.

As of now, it appears that most car rental companies are making an effort to provide high-quality service—and it’s something you should look for before renting your next car.

And if we're dealing with COVID, then of course make sure to check in advance what the restrictions and rules are in case you cross land borders In Europe, or from the US to Canada for example.

Check if there are any benefits at certain fuel companies and refuel accordingly

Most rental companies charge a fee for returning a car with under 1/4 tank of gas. To save yourself an extra cost, check which fuel company is cheapest to fuel on your route and take it from there. This tip can make or break your trip’s cost-effectiveness. ( Source ).

For example in the United States, one of the best ways to save money on a road trip is to get it bought and paid for before you even hit Route 66.

That means signing up with some kind of frequent-flier program — or at least filling out a card, which will earn you coupons and discounts. Ask your company if they have a corporate discount that would apply to travel expenses; many big companies do. If you belong to an AAA club, there may be additional discounts available.

Be nice and drive carefully

Renters damage cars more often than owners, and companies don’t want to pay out costly insurance claims. Keep in mind that most car rental agencies have a strict No Graffiti policy and you may be charged $100 or more for every graffiti mark on a vehicle. To avoid extra fees, refrain from scratching, denting, or breaking anything during your trip.

And in general, it is always better to be nice, drive carefully and most importantly arrive safely.