Traveling is expensive, even when it’s cheap. Getting from point A to point B is going to put a strain on the wallet, whether traveling by plane, bus, car, or ship. Add accommodations, basic needs (food/water/whiskey), tipping, foreign data plans, ATM fees, attraction admission fees, and it all adds up. Rental car agencies know that they can charge a lot, but they also know that they can make it seem like a little.
Here’s the first step to getting swindled by rental car agencies:
Opting for lower prices.
When using comparison sites like Kayak and Expedia, it’s tempting to use our friend the “Lowest Price Available” filter. When you see one agency advertising $24/day as opposed to $96, it seems like a no-brainer doesn’t it?
Until you get to the pickup location, wait on line for 2 hours, get hit with extra fees at the desk, opt for insurance, and have your deposit retained because of a mysterious scratch/nick/dent. The $24/day option magically transforms into $675 for the three days you needed the car.
The point is, you have to use a reputable agency that isn’t going to screw you over. Many are going to try.
Here’s where rental car agencies really take advantage of you. They may ask “would you like extended coverage or basic coverage?” Or they may give you a nightmarish scenario where you could be liable for tens of thousands of dollars.
If you already have a comprehensive car insurance plan with collision, you do not need the rental agency’s insurance at all. Now there are exceptions in some countries, but if you are heading to Denver from L.A., you probably don’t need any of the coverage whatsoever. Of course, the desk person will argue this to the end. At the end of the day, they’re getting the salary/bonuses.
Choosing the Right Rental Car Agency
Budget.com is reputable and one of the more trustworthy services. From my experience, they don’t nickel and dime, are upfront with their costs, and give a fair shot at getting your deposit back. They will try to sell you their insurance, but won’t trick you into it. Chances are, their staff will explain why they think you need it, but are ok if you politely decline.
The prices are good, the fees are moderate, and the company is well-known. As you may know, Budget can be found just about anywhere, making pickup/returns pretty easy.
If you’re looking for a rental car right now, look up some of their options here:
Happy traveling, and make your journey a little less scheme-filled!