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Don’t Let Car Rentals Burn A Hole In Your Pocket – Check Out These 5 Tips


You have planned your holiday well; taken the train/plane to the nearest destination; found a good hotel and booked a car to take you to the exotic locations nearby. But when you have to pay for the rented car, you get the shock of your life. The final bill is way over what was advertised or what you expected. And then it becomes a brain-racking, loathsome exercise as you try to decipher the extra costs and charges that have been added to the bill while you continue to argue that those things were never mentioned in the first place.

Such incidents typically spoil the holiday mood, but you can actually avoid it and need not allow car rental to burn a huge hole in your pocket. Just follow these five tips and things will change for the better.

1. Try to research and book well in advance
If you are planning a holiday, you mostly book flights and hotels/resorts well in advance after proper research. Do the same for car rentals if you don't want to pay exuberant prices. You will find plenty of options and information online. What's more, you will also find numerous consumer forums on the Web where reviews and ratings of various car rental agencies are posted. Thus, it is best to decide and book in advance. You should have a good idea about costs and options before going.

2. Try to avoid booking from airports, major city markets
Many people book their cars from airports that are nearest to their holiday destinations. But it usually costs you more as car rentals present there will charge much more and some useless taxes will be added as well, depending on city limits. And the same thing happens when you opt for a car rental operating in the main city areas. They are bound to charge you more than the suburban car rental agencies. But those operating far away from established marketplaces like airports, bus stands and big hotels often face tough competition due to their out-of-city presence and their charges are usually lower than the city and airport-based agencies. Therefore, first take a cab to your hotel and settle down. Next, go to those car rental offices located at the outskirts of the city and hire a car for your entire trip.

3. Get the fuel policy right
Sometimes, car hiring services insist that you have to bring the car back with the tank full. If you are accompanied by a driver, the charges could be higher than self-driven rental cars. Some agencies opt for fixed charges for the first few hundred km covered and then a cost per kilometer travelled. But when the pricing also depends on the amount of fuel used and the fuel in the tank on return of the car, it is best to go for a full tank policy where you pay upfront for the total fuel in the tank at a fixed fuel rate per liter. It doesn't matter how much fuel you use on the trip. If you use more than one tank, you only have to pay for the extra at a petrol station.

But the full tank policy may not be too good if you are not going to use the entire tank. It means you will have to pay for the fuel you have not used. In such cases, go for the fixed charge plus the rate per kilometer one if you have a fairly accurate idea of the distance to be covered. Else, go for the full tank policy.

4. Beware of the insurance whammy
Car rental companies usually provide a standard insurance for the rented vehicle that states the standard charges to be paid as insurance. But at the end of the trip, you may get a punch of extra charges on account of stuff like damage to parts of the car like tires and windshield, which are not covered under standard insurance.

In order to insure against those additional damages to the parts of the car which are not covered by standard insurance, there is a provision called excess damage waiver insurance. This will insure you against damages to windshield, tires, etc. (these often occur if the person driving is not an experienced driver). But this is where car rental companies charge a huge amount, which can be double your total insurance cost. So it is important to read the entire insurance document before making the choice of the policy. Enquire about all possible terms and conditions before you pay up.

5. Photograph your car before and after the trip

Quite often, car rental agencies charge you extra for minor damages (at the sides or near the bottom are the most likely places) even though you have not caused them during the trip. However, there is no evidence to support your claim and you will end up paying the extra amount. It is, therefore, judicious to take proper photographs of the car before you start the trip and get them endorsed by the car rental people to determine the actual state of the car. Also take photographs just before the end of the trip and it will show that you did not cause those scratches or dents which were already there. Matching the two sets of photographs will help resolve any issue that the car company may try to raise in order to charge extra under the miscellaneous or admin costs.

Do the planning properly, based on the information gathered from the Internet and also garnered from other vacationers who had been at those destinations. If you do that, it will surely help you cut down on costs while hiring a car.
(Image: Thinkstock)
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