Renting a car when you’re traveling provides you with the freedom to see the sights at your own pace or hit the open highway for an epic road trip adventure. As you’re planning your journey, you may even see what appear to be great package deals that combine flights, accommodation, and car hire into one low price. Yet it’s important to read the fine print on any car hire contracts. Driving abroad can really add up when you factor in the cost of fuel, insurance, and mileage limits. You’ll want to take the following tips into consideration when planning your next road trip.
1. Check the Equipment
Before you drive your rental car off the lot, look it over carefully for any faults. This could include dents, scratches, or equipment that’s not working. Even the tiniest scratch could cost you money when you turn it in, so if you see any flaws ask if these have been documented or choose a different car.
2. Consider Buying over Renting
If you’re travelling for longer than a month, it might be better value to purchase a used car rather than pay for a rental. For example, if you’re taking a two-month tour around Australia, you could compare local car deals using an Australian company like Car Sales or look for something used on eBay. At the end of the tour, you can then sell the car to someone else using these same sites. Although it’s a bit more time and effort than checking in at a rental counter; you’ll only pay for fuel and insurance this way.
3. Rent a Diesel or Hybrid
Fuel is a considerable cost for any motorist, and if you’re planning on doing a lot of driving at your destination it can really add up. Ask for a diesel or hybrid model that gets more to the gallon if you want to save. These may cost a bit more up front, but it can really pay off in the long run. Be sure to ask if there’s a refuelling charge when you return the car. If so, you’ll need to return it with a full tank of gas.
4. Buy your Own Top-Up Insurance
One of the main ways that car hire companies boost their revenue is by upselling their insurance policies. There may be a high excess charge if you damage the car, but the company will waive these if you purchase top-up insurance, usually at a high rate. You can save money by shopping around for your own excess insurance plan instead.
5. Pre-Book your Vehicle
Not only can booking your vehicle online in advance save you time at the airport check-in desk, it can also save you money. You may qualify for pre-booking discounts if you reserve your vehicle well in advance. Another factor to consider is that you are less likely to be talked into extras if you prepay. Booking online means you have time to think about each extra and whether or not you really need it.
In general, always read your contract carefully, don’t get bullied into upgrades you don’t want, and consider buying when you’re travelling for longer periods of time. Taking the time to review all of your options carefully can help you save when you hit the rental counter, leaving you with more cash in your pocket for sightseeing and souvenirs.