Finding the right car for your trip can be almost as important as the trip itself.
Here are some tips on what to consider when renting a car:
1) Car Class: Whether taking a solo trip or a family vacation, the car type is important. Seems like every day car sizes are getting smaller and car classes are changing. Be sure to know what type of car you are booking. Just because your family sedan is considered a full-size by the manufacturer, does not mean the rental car company does. During a recent rental with Thrifty, I found that a Chevrolet Sonic was considered a compact car. Most rental car companies would consider it an economy class car. It made for a pretty uncomfortable trip. When you make your reservations, you can always verify the type of cars they have in that car class.
2) Fuel Economy: If you are taking a long road trip or are on a budget, you may want to be mindful of the fuel economy of the vehicle. Same goes if you are visiting states like California and New York where gas prices are higher. Rental companies now provide you with a range on the vehicle fuel economy by class.
3) Airport v. City: Airport car rentals usually bring with them additional fees. Finding an alternative booking location may reduce your price. However, these sites may have limited hours, so you should keep this in mind when booking.
4) Car Rental Companies: There are many car rental companies around. If you find a rate that seems too good to be true, research the company before you book. The internet has many customer review sites that you can check out for free and see if your reservation would be safe to make.
5) Length Of Rental: Make sure you book for the portion of your trip that you will need the car for. When visiting a big city, having a car may not be necessary and can actually be expensive. When you plan your trip, take that into consideration and plan around your car rental. During a recent visit to San Francisco, it cost us $54 to park the car overnight. In a subsequent trip, we decided against a car rental.
6) Booking: There are different places to book your trip and options when it comes to rental car companies. Don’t be afraid to price it out different ways. I have found that at times it may be cheaper to buy a package through a booking site (hotel, airfare and car), but sometimes it is more cost effective to book independently.
7) Insurance: When booking with a credit card, it will provide you with coverage on the vehicle you rent. You should always verify what coverage your credit card offers and if the location you are visiting is covered. Cars rented in Ireland, for example, are not covered by many major credit cards. Making sure you have the proper coverage is always a good idea, to prevent any issues in the future.
8) GPS: The GPS business is huge with car rental companies. My suggestion, pack your own! If you have an updated map downloaded into your GPS you should be able to get through most cities in the US. When traveling overseas, you can figure out what is more cost effective, buying a map card for the region you are visiting or just renting the car rental company’s GPS.