Practical International rental Car Hire tips for soft adventure travelers.
Renting a car has become a much more commonplace occurrence than before. There are many options available from many different car hire companies, so it is essential that you shop around to find the best deal for your needs. Even the same car hire company in different locations will not always charge the same price.
Where, When, and What to Book
It is usually cheaper to reserve your car well in advance, sometimes up to a month or more before you need it. Hiring from an airport supplier is usually more expensive, as you need to pay an airport surcharge. It might be worth your while travelling to your hotel by taxi, staying there overnight and picking up your rental vehicle the next day from a supplier away from the airport. Some rental agencies rent more vehicles over the weekend and will therefore have a much cheaper rate during the week, when more cars are standing idle. Others rent out more during the week, so you need to find out where the cheapest rate is.
Making use of discount coupons could save you a substantial amount as well. Always ask about senior citizen, AAA, credit card and frequent flier program discounts or add-on offers.
Book with a reputable company. The cheapest rate may not always be the best.
Returning Your Car
Looking to drive a long distance across a continent or cross borders? You don't need to return the vehicle to the same place you picked it up. Usually extra fees are charged for a different drop off point but the additional cost and convenience of not returning the car to the same point are well worth it.
What Size Car and Options
You need to decide before you book what model and size car you need. The cheapest cars to rent are obviously the smallest compact models. Yet because they are the most popular, you might find that renting a bigger car, with which the agency might be stuck for some days, might be cheaper once all the small cars have been rented out. In many countries, manual transmissions and no air conditioning is common. Make sure you clarify this before you book. If you can drive a stick shift, it could save you money and hassles
For soft adventure family holidays, the best options are a comfortable SUV or a more rugged four wheel drive vehicle fitted with a satellite navigational system. Make sure that you rent the correct vehicle for the type of terrain you plan to cover and that it has the correct equipment, such as snow tires for snow driving.
How Long Is the Car Needed?
Renting for longer periods like a week makes the daily rate cheaper. Ask what time a car is expected for drop-off. Many rental agencies begin charging for each 24-hour-period from the time of rental, and will bill a full day for cars returned after another 24-hour period begins. If you are expected to return the car with a full tank and you fail to do so, you are charged far in excess of the cost of the fuel. Even pre-paying the amount to have the tank filled could be expensive, so it is better to fill it yourself.
Look for alternatives to the rental car companies CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) insurance. Before renting, check out the insurance coverages offered by your credit card for collision coverage. Many credit cards and other options such as 3rd party insurance companies sell collision coverage at a cheaper rate than the car rental companies.
In some countries, the required coverage is minimal. When renting a car overseas, consider purchasing additional insurance coverage that is at least equivalent to what you carry at home. In general, your U.S. auto insurance does NOT cover you abroad; however, your policy may apply when you drive to countries neighboring the United States. Check with your insurer before you leave to see if your policy covers you. Even if your policy is valid, it may not meet that country's minimum requirement. If you are under-insured for a particular country, auto insurance can usually be purchased separately.
Verify What The Car Rental Company's Minimum And Maximum Driving Ages Are.
Drivers under the age of 25 or over the age of 70 may face surcharges or not be permitted to rent at all.
Inspect Your Car Before Pick up
When picking up the car, inspect it carefully for pre-existing damages, which should be recorded on the rental contract and of which you need a copy. Everything you requested and for which you paid, should be included. If you discover any any scratches or dents, use your cell phone camera to take a picture and present it to the car rental company for evidence of pre-existing damage.
Know the Local Driving Laws
Different countries have different rules of the road, so familiarise yourself with the rules and conditions, like the speed limit, when travelling in a foreign country.
Make sure you know what kind of petrol/gas your car takes when you book it. It will save a lot of time digging through the car manual on your first refill.
Returning Your Car
When returning the car, make sure it is inspected in your presence, that your deposit is refunded, and that you have not left any personal belongings behind.
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