The good news is that renting a car for a few days can be surprisingly affordable. The bad news is that renting a car isn’t so affordable if you don’t follow the rules of your contract, or if you find yourself in an accident.
Because the final cost of renting a car can be such a mystery, it’s normal to feel nervous when you hit the road. Don’t let the anxiety of driving a rental car ruin your trip! Whether you’re traveling for fun or for business, there are ways you can make driving a rental car less stressful.
Brush up on How to Avoid an Accident
An accident can make your affordable car rental outrageously unaffordable, as you could be stuck footing the bill for repairs. Not to mention, it can completely ruin your trip.
It’s worth your time to brush up on simple tips that will help you avoid an accident, especially if you’re driving on unfamiliar roads. A few tips include:
- Avoid a T-bone accident by being extra cautious when taking a left turn.
- Brush up on your knowledge of common road signs.
- Use Google Maps so you always know the speed limit.
- Slow down in poor weather conditions.
- Avoid distractions, like cell phone use and eating, while driving.
Make Sure You’re Insured
Hopefully, you will avoid getting into an accident when you’re driving a rental car. Most people do, but there are other things that can happen to the car that you could be liable for. A scratch in a parking lot, although not your fault, will cost you when you return the car. Insurance can provide you with peace of mind.
That might mean paying extra for the insurance offered by the car rental company, but make sure you look at your credit cards first. Many cards offer additional benefits, one of which is rental car insurance. Make sure you contact the card company and ask them exactly what kind of insurance is included with your current card. It will help you relax behind the wheel knowing you’re covered if something goes wrong while you’re behind the wheel.
Inspect the Car Before You Drive It off the Lot
It’s one thing to be charged for any damage that you accidentally caused to the car. It’s another thing altogether to find out that you’re being charged for car damage that you didn’t cause.
It isn’t unheard of for those renting cars to be charged for damage that was caused by someone else. Car rental companies don’t do it on purpose. They just don’t notice the damage until you return the car.
That’s why it’s important to do your own inspection. Before you hop into the car, inspect the exterior. Look for smudges and scratches on the front and back of the car. If you find anything, make sure you let the rental company know before you leave so you won’t be charged for it when you return.
Return It in the Same Condition
You will want to return the car in the same condition, but that includes more than just making sure there aren’t any new dings or scratches.
There are many hidden fees that you should be aware of when you rent a car, one of which is returning the car with an empty gas tank. Although it may be convenient, you’ll pay a lot more than just the gas for returning it with an empty tank.
The interior of the car matters too! Avoid getting cleaning or damage charges on interior surfaces by wiping up any spills and stopping by the car wash to use the shop vac to clean up any crumbs.
Think Carefully About Who Will Drive the Car
If you’re looking for ways to save a little money on your rental car, you may only designate one driver. However, if you plan on letting others drive, you could see some nasty fees on your final bill.
It’s important to think carefully about who will drive the car. If you’re driving a long distance, pay the extra fee to have someone else added as a driver. That way, someone else can drive the car without anyone worrying about penalty fees.
Renting a car can be very stressful because you don’t always know exactly what everything is going to cost when you first step foot in the vehicle. With a little care and the tips on this list, you can enjoy the open road without worrying about surprise charges when you’re ready to go home.