It’s no secret that car rental companies target tourists from the moment they step of the plane, right up until the inevitable return flight. As the renter, it is your responsibility to always read the fine print, even if it means doing some research and selecting a rental company beforehand.
As a rule of thumb, you will almost always encounter better deals and more lenient salesmen the further you are from the airport or the city center. Use the following tips and tricks to secure the car you want and avoid any hidden charges.
First of all, many rental services do not have set prices. It is the agent’s job to set the price based on factors such as how many cars are in the lot or the willingness of a customer to pay a significantly inflated price in a desperate situation. To use this to your advantage, come in with a price you believe to be fair and negotiate from there. Do not settle for the initial price.
Before signing for the car, note any prior damage. Make sure to photo document this as well, and then have an employee sign off on it to avoid any later disputes and subsequent charges.
Make sure you refuel and keep the receipt before returning the car. If the car isn’t completely filled, the rental company may charge an additional fee, in addition to the cost of the missing fuel. Companies may also want to check the fuel receipt, so make sure to keep it in a safe place.
However, if for some reason you must return the car without a full tank, let the agent know you were less than satisfied with the vehicle. Managers must answer for anything less than extremely satisfactory ratings, so they are committed to making customers happy, even at the cost of waiving the cost of a tank of gas or a day’s rental fees.
Rental companies often ridiculously over charge for add-ons such as GPS navigators or car seats. To avoid these charges, bring the GPS navigator or car seat with you. Even if you are flying and the airline charges for the car seat, in most cases the airline’s fee is less than that of the rental company. If you don’t mind one more piece of luggage, it is a great way to save a few bucks.
As for the extra rental insurance, it is unneeded, but a great bargaining chip. Therefore, use the insurance to your advantage, by agreeing to add it on in exchange for a lower rate. When it comes time to sign the contract, simply decline the insurance that is printed. This way, you receive the lower rate without actually paying for the additional rental insurance.
Finally, remember, even though you have returned the car, it is still not over. Keep your paper work and watch your credit card statement to insure you are only charged the agreed upon price.
Use these guidelines to score the car you want, at the price you want. Just remember, always stay one step ahead of the salesman. Know what you are willing to pay and do not let yourself fall victim to the smooth talking.