Buyers Tips

Rental Cars

Your BBB offers helpful information about car renting:

Car Choices:
Most reputable rent-a-car dealers offer you different classes of vehicles: economy, compact, mid-size, full-size 2-door, full-size 4-door, and luxury. The cars, generally, are equipped with a radio, automatic transmission, power steering and air conditioning.

What About Rates?
Motorists can get confused when rates are discussed. Rent-a-car rates can be based on a series of variable factors, which include:

Type and size of car; how long you plan to keep the car; gasoline charges; mileage charges; insurance coverages; waivers (CDW/LDW); drop-off charges; taxes; time of week and season of year.

Car rental companies frequently offer different types of rates. There may be a daily rate with a mileage charge or a rate that includes free mileage (or specified number of free miles per day). Companies may also offer weekly rates.

Rates are often based on a 24-hour period with a one-hour grace period. If you keep the car more than four hours after this period, it may be less expensive to keep it another day, since hourly overtime charges may be high.

Promotional or weekend rates that are lower than regular rates also may be available. Car rental arrangements are sometimes offered in tour packages that include airfare and lodging. The rate you pay may change if you keep the car beyond the promotional or weekend timeframe.

Most companies do not include the cost of gasoline in their rates. The tank is full when you pick up the car, and you pay for additional gas. Keep in mind that if you return the car without a full tank, you will be assessed a refueling charge by the car rental company which is often higher than gas station prices.

Also, when you return the car to a location other than where you picked it up, you may have to pay a "drop-off" charge. Find out what the requirements are when you make your reservations.

Remember that specific rates vary from city to city.

It is important not only to compare the rates of different firms, but to also check out the different plans offered by each company. Each type of plan offers certain advantages. To find out which type is most advantageous for you, consider how long you will want the car and the approximate number of miles you plan to drive. Then add up the cost both ways in order to find the plan that will save you the most money, yet offer the services you need.

What about insurance and waivers?
Many auto rental companies include basic automobile liability and standard comprehensive insurance protection, including theft insurance, as a part of their service without added charge.

It is a good idea to examine, and be sure you understand, the insurance coverage and any waivers offered by the renting company. This is especially important when advertised rental rates are considerably lower than usual.

Be sure you give the vehicle a thorough examination for unusual dents and scratches before you take it out. Any damage should be noted on the contract before you leave the lot, even if this means going back into the rental office to make sure the damage is acknowledged in writing. Also, make sure that the spare tire and tools are in the trunk.

Who can rent a car:
Generally, anyone with a valid driver's license and acceptable credit card can rent a car. Most companies require renters to be 25 years of age, although in some cities the age limits may be between 18 and 21. If you do not have a credit card, but qualify for a cash deposit, most companies will require a cash deposit including the estimated rental charges, as well as other verifiable information. In some areas, rental companies accept only valid credit cards and not take cash.


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