Auto rental cars used to be popular only to the business travelers. Now, the car rental industry earns as much as $22 billion per year, attracting all types of travelers from all walks of life. If you’re new to renting cars, read on for useful information about loyalty membership programs, avoiding extra fees and tips for a stress-free rental.
Loyalty Programs of Auto Rental Cars
Like frequent flyer programs of airlines, major car rental companies also have their own loyalty programs. These programs usually offer a day of free rental after you booked a vehicle for a week or more. However, the value of these programs is the comfort it brings to renters. If you are a member of a particular car rental company, you basically don’t have to go in line. Depending on the rental location, you may only have to pass an automated kiosk and go straight to your chosen vehicle, sign the contract and drive off.
Another benefit of joining loyalty programs of auto rental cars is the amount of time and headache you save from saying no to upselling. Since your preference is on file, the clerk can just glimpse on your file and offer you the vehicle instantly. In addition, loyalty programs offer up to 20% discounts to members regularly. The price of membership varies between companies, but they often have a free version and paid version (from $20 to $100 annually).
Ways to Keep Costsunder Control
If you’re not a member of any loyalty program you can still keep your rental costs under control. Always book in advance. Avoid unnecessary fees such as airport fees (if another rental company is located near the airport or if your hotel can assist you with booking a vehicle). Buy the gas yourself and always think twice about buying more insurance coverage.
When talking to a clerk, don’t be persuaded with a bunch of upgrades quite easily. Think rationally if you really need an upgrade to drive on “rough roads” or a new car with “extra driving security.” If you need a child seat or GPS system, you can bring your own to avoid daily additional rates. Lastly, make sure to ask everything about rates and taxes. An advertised $7 to $15 per day can balloon to over $50 daily when all taxes, upgrades and other surcharges are added up.
Stress-Free Booking of Auto Rental Cars
To make your car rental a stress-free experience, here are some tips you should follow:
- Read and understand your contract. Take note of the mileage restrictions. If you’re confused with any of the terms, ask before you sign.
- If you don’t need a big car, go with smaller ones. A smaller vehicle always has lower fees.
- Companies work on a 24-hour basis, so when you leave with auto rental cars at 9 am, returning it anything past 9 am the next day would mean you rented the vehicle for two days.
- Before driving off with your rented vehicle, make sure to check every part of the car and inspect for dents, bumps, scrapes, bad odor and other damages you may be responsible for when you bring the vehicle back. Check if the tires, seat belts, lights, wipers, air conditioning and other car features are working perfectly.
Planning ahead, joining a loyalty program and educating yourself about the terms of rental not only prevents rental-related headaches, but also helps you save money and time.