How to avoid extra fees at car rental counters
Car rental companies often offer travelers a wide range of vehicle models. What most customers don’t need are a lot of the extra, pricey services or the unexpected gotchas that appear on your bill when you bring back the vehicle.
- Treat a rental car like a hotel mini bar. Don’t take any “goodies” without knowing the prices. This includes things like GPS navigation, satellite radio and child safety seats.
- Think twice before signing up for the “full gas tank” option where they refill the tank for you when you bring the car back … at their gas price. Sometimes it’s as much as $8/gallon. The convenience of not having to return the car with a full tank could cost you big time.
- Don’t rent more car than you need. Before you decide to take advantage of a special upgrade to a bigger vehicle, think about the impact on gas mileage. Do you really need a bigger car, minivan or SUV and do you really want to pay for the extra gas it may use?
- Travel with only what you need, not a lot of extras that add weight. Every 100 pounds of weight reduces gas mileage by around 2%. Also avoid carrying anything on the top of your vehicle. It creates mileage-reducing drag.
- Don't accept a loss damage waiver unless you need to. Car rental agents typically offer a loss damage waiver, but you may not need it if your own auto insurance policy includes collision and/or comprehensive coverage. Or if you use a credit card that provides protection. Call your insurer and credit card customer service before you hit the car rental desk to make sure. It can save you money.
- Always pay by credit card so any inaccurate changes can be disputed.
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