Car rentals are a great way to solve many problems, from getting to the airport without paying for long-term parking to handling your day-to-day chores while your vehicle is in the shop. While car rental companies strive to make the process as quick and painless as possible, your first time can still be intimidating, especially if you're worried about spending too much money.
Fortunately, getting a good deal on a rental car typically isn't too hard, but that doesn't mean there aren't a few things you can do to make the process even smoother. If you're about to make your first-ever rental booking, follow these four tips to get the most from the experience.
1. Don't Book Last Minute
Rental prices can vary significantly and for reasons largely out of your control. Booking far in advance won't always guarantee a better rate, but last-minute bookings are almost always a bad idea. Booking at the last minute may mean getting a car you don't want, paying higher prices, or traveling to a distant location for pickup and dropoff.
There's no perfect time to make your booking but plan ahead by at least a few days. A little planning will save you time, make the process less stressful, and potentially keep some cash in your pocket.
2. Use a Credit Card
Nearly all rental companies prefer credit cards over debit cards, and cash is typically not an option. Paying by debit may incur higher fees, and you'll likely need to wait longer for your security deposit refund. Even better, many credit cards provide perks, such as special insurance covering any damage to your rental car.
If you need to use a debit card, always call ahead to confirm that it's an acceptable form of payment. Some rental companies will not accept debit cards, so a simple call can save you a lot of trouble.
3. Always Confirm
Many online search engines provide great deals on rentals, but these third-party booking sites don't always have the best communication with rental agencies. As a result, it's possible to book through a third-party service and still experience problems with your reservations. Fortunately, it's easy to avoid these issues by calling the rental agency to confirm your booking.
A good rule of thumb is to call a day or two ahead so you'll have time to make alternate plans if necessary. Once you confirm, you can rest easy knowing that your car will be ready when you arrive.
4. Be Punctual
Rental agencies are typically very busy, so showing up late for your rental may mean that you won't get the car you won't or won't get any vehicle at all. Likewise, dropping your car off late may result in additional fees that are more costly than a rental extension. If you're going to be late for pickup or dropoff, call as far in advance as possible to let the rental company know.
By following these straightforward tips, you're sure to have a smooth and enjoyable first rental car experience.
Contact a local car rental service, such as E-4 Fleet, to learn more.