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21 Ways to Get the Best Travel Deals – Car Rental

21 Ways to Get the Best Travel Deals – Car Rental

Renting a car is something that many people do when they go on vacation. But most people don’t realise all the potential traps and pitfalls that can be avoided when renting a car. Having worked for a car rental company, I’ve come across lots of hacks that you can use to save time, save money, and generally make the whole process of renting a car a lot easier. Today I’m going to share 21 rental car tips with you; I guarantee there will be at least one tip you hadn’t thought of in the list!

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airport car rental desk
    1. Ditch the travel agent
      Have a think about where travel agents earn their money. They work on commission. That means they get a certain percentage of the booking amount, and they may get kick-backs from certain suppliers. The more expensive your booking is, the more money they make. Booking car hire by yourself is so easy, and only takes a couple of minutes.
    2. Book early to save
      Just like airfares and accommodation, prices for rental cars usually increase as you get closer to the date of service. This is especially true around holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Because demand is so high and rental car fleets are limited, the suppliers can charge just about whatever they like and know that people will still be desperate enough to book. Booking far in advance means you’ll get the best possible rate, as well as choice of the full range of cars.
    3. Compare, contrast, and find a deal
      Comparison websites are a great way to book car hire. Using one of these comparison sites, you can compare all the major car rental suppliers against one another on the same screen, and find the cheapest deal. There are plenty of comparison sites around, just make sure you use one that doesn’t charge any booking fee or cancellation fee so you’re not out of pocket if you happen to find a better deal later on. My favourite is probably VroomVroomVroom because they offer a lowest price guarantee. They also send you a confirmation SMS so you don’t need to bother with paperwork when you pick up the car.
    4. Airport rental centers cost more
      Did you know that the price of rental cars at the airport is way higher than that city depot, even for the same supplier? It’s partly because airports charge the rental car suppliers a huge amount for renting the car spaces and desk space inside the terminal. They also charge customers more for the convenience. If you’re renting a car for just a day or two, it might not make much of a difference in your total bill. If you’re renting for a week, it could mean huge savings. Compare the price for airport and downtown locations to see if it’s worthwhile getting other transport from the airport to the city and picking the car up there instead.
    5. Don’t forget to fill up!
      Rental companies will charge you a fortune if you don’t fill up the car before taking it back. They’ll charge you up to double the regular pump price, and some will even add an “administration” fee on top! Fill the car up before you drop it back, and don’t forget to keep the receipt! In the case of a dispute, the time/date and amount on your receipt is evidence that you filled the car up.
      gas pump rental car
      • Consider the environment
        I’m not just talking for the environment’s sake, either. Choosing an economical car or hybrid can save you lots of money when it comes to refuelling. Sure, that giant Cadillac might look nice, but if you’re looking to save money then maybe a Civic would be the smarter choice.
      • Don’t pay in advance
        Book through a supplier or comparison website that doesn’t require any payment up front. If you find a better deal somewhere else, or if something else comes up and you need to change your plans, at least you won’t be stung with a cancellation fee! It also means you can make a few bookings and choose the one that’s best for you as the date gets closer. By booking early you can lock in good prices, and just cancel the ones you don’t need before the date.
      • Take photos of any damage
        Make sure you take photos of any damage to the car before you leave the depot. If your camera has the option, mark the photos with the time and date, or upload them to somewhere online that lists the time and date. If there is a staff member available, get them to walk around the car with you, and make sure you mark any and all damage and marks on the car, no matter how small. Don’t let them tell you not to worry about the small marks. It’s better to be safe than sorry! What most people don’t know is that if you happen to return a car with damage, you’ll not only be up for the cost of repairing the damage, but also for any potential loss of rental fees while the car is off the road. That can add up to thousands of dollars!
      • Look at your insurance options
        Insurance can vary by country, but most rental cars come with some basic form of insurance. You’ll generally have to pay an excess of a few thousand dollars if you have an accident. The rental car supplier will offer you excess reduction or an insurance waiver, but there are often better options available. Keep an eye out for travel insurance or credit cards that include this insurance automatically – it can save you lots of money.
      • Try different rental lengths
        Suppliers often have special rates for different length rentals. As an example, I recently saw one supplier offering a special 4-day rate which was actually cheaper than their regular rate for three days. In this case it would be better to take the four day rate, and just drop the car back after three days instead. Weekly and weekend rental rates are the most common. If you only need the car for 5 or 6 days, just try comparing the price for 7 anyway; you might be pleasantly surprised.
      • Keep your schedule in mind
        Suppliers generally charge in 24-hour blocks. If you don’t need the car until 1pm, make the booking starting at 1pm! Most search forms default to 9 or 10am, so watch out for this when you’re searching. If you book for 1pm it means you’ll have until 1pm on the day you drop it off. Also worth noting is that suppliers generally have a grace period—usually an extra 29 or 59 minutes past your drop off time before they charge an excess fee. If you think you’re going to be late dropping the car back, give the depot a call to let them know and ask for this grace period.
      • GPS units and baby seats can be costly
        Recently I hired a car in New Zealand for 15 days. To add a GPS unit to my rental would have cost me more than actually buying a new one from a shop! So that’s exactly what I did. I bought a GPS once I arrived in New Zealand, and then sold it once I got home for almost the full price! It saved me over $100. The same is true of baby seats. These can be costly to hire, so consider taking one with you. Many airlines will let you check baby seats in with your luggage for free or for a nominal fee. You could also buy a basic child seat once you get to your destination. Depending how long you need it, this may be a cheaper option. At the end of your trip, you can either sell or donate the car seat.
      • Consider $1 relocation deals
        It costs lots of money for suppliers to relocate cars from one location to another. Instead of spending $1000 to relocate a vehicle by truck, they’ll usually offer $1 relocation deals. This can be a great option if you’re looking to take a last minute road trip, and sometimes they’ll even cover fuel costs too! The negative is that you have to travel between certain dates, so I’d suggest booking a rental car the regular way to be safe and cancelling it at the last minute if you manage to get a relocation deal that suits your travel plans.
      • Don’t forget to use rewards points
        Not only can you use points to book a rental car, but most suppliers have agreements with one or more frequent flyer or other rewards programs. It’s probably not worth basing your choice of supplier on this, but it’s certainly worthwhile quoting your frequent flyer number when you book so that you don’t miss out on any points.
        bad experiences car rental desk
        • Check exclusions on where you can and can’t take the vehicle
          It’s worth reading the fine print to see where you can and can’t take your rental car. Most suppliers have exclusion areas, whether it’s off-road or taking it to certain islands, on ferries, etc. You may also notice some strange clauses like a “dusk to dawn” clause. This can mean you’re not covered by insurance if you have an accident at night outside the city limits (e.g. if you hit a deer).
        • Return to Point A
          It’s not always possible, but it’s almost always cheaper to drop the rental car back at the depot that you picked it up from. It costs money to relocate cars, so you’ll usually by stung with a hefty “one-way fee” or “relocation fee” if you choose to drop your car back at a different depot.
        • List all the drivers
          If you are sharing the driving with someone else, be sure that they are listed on your rental agreement. If an unlisted driver has an accident, the insurance will usually not cover the damage. Many suppliers don’t charge you any extra fees to list an additional driver, so it’s definitely worth doing even if you don’t think they’ll be driving much.
        • Consider using a local’s car!
          There are a few websites around now that allow people to rent out their own cars. There are some good deals available, especially for long term rentals, and the terms and conditions are mostly the same as you would find with a regular rental car (be sure to read all the fine print). There may be exclusions if you don’t hold a drivers licence in the same country, so be sure to check that, too.
        • Consider an older car
          Many of the smaller suppliers are able to offer cheaper cars because they don’t renew their fleet as often as the big boys. There are plenty of dodgy smaller suppliers, so check reviews before you book. If you’re going down this route, check that you’re covered by good roadside assistance plan.
        • Look out for toll roads
          Toll roads are unavoidable in most large cities, but there are often different options for how you get charged. Check with the supplier to see what they offer. Some suppliers offer an “all-you-can-eat” toll option where you pay a set fee and can use as many tolls as you like. Others will charge you an admin fee on top of any tolls, so be careful of the fine print. Another option may be to use your own toll transponder if you’re traveling interstate. Just check with your provider to see if their transponder will work in the state to which you’re traveling.
        • Wait a minute!
          Just before you leave (a day or two), check the prices again. There may be a last minute special available, and because you booked on a site with no cancellation fee (you did that, right?) you can cancel the previous booking without losing any money! Just be sure you get a confirmation of the new booking before you cancel the old one.

        So, let’s hear it! What are your car rental tips? Share them in the comments below.

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        And now that you’re a car rental expert, why not extend your knowledge to flights as well. Find out how to fly first class for free!

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        Last Updated on March 13, 2019

        How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

        How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

        Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

        You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

        Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

        1. Work on the small tasks.

        When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

        Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

        2. Take a break from your work desk.

        Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

        Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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        3. Upgrade yourself

        Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

        The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

        4. Talk to a friend.

        Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

        Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

        5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

        If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

        Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

        Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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        6. Paint a vision to work towards.

        If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

        Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

        Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

        7. Read a book (or blog).

        The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

        Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

        Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

        8. Have a quick nap.

        If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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        9. Remember why you are doing this.

        Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

        What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

        10. Find some competition.

        Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

        Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

        11. Go exercise.

        Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

        Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

        As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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        Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

        12. Take a good break.

        Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

        Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

        Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

        Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

        More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

        Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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