What You Might Not Know About Car Rentals

Posted 12/16/2009

Getting a great deal on your car rental can be done with some preparation and effort, and those lower prices are available for everybody. However, there are a few things that hardly anyone thinks about when renting a car, because they are the kind of shortcuts and details that just are not too well known. We have compiled a short list of those things you never knew about car rentals. They may just save you more than money: They can spare you a lot of time and trouble.

If you are booking online (almost always the cheapest way to go), you can usually get your reservation done a little faster if you know the airport code for the city you are renting in. This is very important to know if you are going to rent at one of the airport locations. When renting a car from any airport location, you will be asked for a city code, which is three capital letters. Every city with a major airport has one, and it is a shortcut to know it. For example, if you are looking over a list of available rentals in Las Vegas and their corresponding locations, it really helps to know that LAS stands for the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. A quick web search for your destination city's airport code is worth a few moments since it will yield you quick results when you are requesting the rental information.

When you get your car rental rate, you will be given a "base rate". The base rate can be quite low, but be aware that your price will increase based on a number of factors. Sales tax is added in nearly every U.S. state, but some of the other charges may be avoidable: If you are renting from an airport location, know that there are often charges such as airport tax, and an airport concession fee that may add a significant amount to your daily rental rates. In fact the additional charges to the base rate will increase your cost up to 20 percent or more. Of course, a certain fee for the convenience of renting right at the airport is to be expected in most cases, however there is no reason to be caught unaware of this. Inquire either online or over the phone exactly what your additional fees will be prior to picking up your rental.

Another thing that very few people know about car rentals is that there is typically a "24 hour rate" that the majority of car rental companies use to determine your final cost. If you find that you are unable to return your car exactly on time, you will possibly be given a grace period of one or two hours. If you return the car at any point after that you will be charged for a whole extra day, according to the terms of most car rental contracts. For example, if you were to return the car about three hours past the due time, you would be charged the same exact "extra day rate" as if you had returned it a full 24 hours late. Make sure that you carefully read your rental contract so that you are aware of how long your grace period will be, in case you run into unexpected problems.

Finally, a big benefit that most people never even hear about: Most of the major car rental companies have emergency roadside assistance that is included in the cost of your car rental. There is no need to use your own money or your personal roadside assistance plan if you have a flat tire or a similar problem. Check on the website of the company you are renting from to be sure that your car rental company offers this benefit. It is something that can really help out at the most unexpected times!

Navigating the confusing world of car rentals can leave you with unanswered questions. However, if you prepare as much as possible by employing the smart, and little known, tips above, you will be far ahead of the game in your car rental endeavors.

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