Do's and Don'ts of booking:
• Book in advance, at very minimum 24 hours.
• Book straight through a rental companies' website. The amount saved by booking through a third-party website (Hotwire, Orbitz, Priceline, etcetera ..) is not worth the head ache it will create if anything goes wrong while traveling, such as being rerouted, delayed, or canceled flights.
• Pre-pay when you can to save money, but make sure your travel plans are Iron-Clad. No one expects to be delayed or rerouted, however things happens when traveling. Pre-paying makes it very difficult if not impossible to rearrange your rental.
• Book appropriately, if you have 5 large guys, do not book an Economy Vehicle, you are subject to getting a Toyota Yaris, Chevy Spark, or a Mitsubishi Mirage and you are not guaranteed 4 doors.
• If you plan on upgrading to something nice, book a full size car. The upgrade would be significantly less than if you booked a compact, even though the price difference may be as little as a $ 10 a day online for booking a full-sized vehicle to a compact.
What to expect at the counter:
• Be patient – you could be flying into Los Angeles International, or LaGuardia airport in New York. There will most likely be a wait, and the associates are moving as fast as they can. Renting a car is a process, and you are agreeing to terms and conditions of a legal binding contract. Whether it's your first time or hundredth time, you want them to be thorough because at the end of the day, it is your money and ultimately your responsibility.
• Questions – The associates are going to ask you questions, they are all broad and open-ended questions. This process is called qualifying the customer. This is just to ensure you are getting the best deal and vehicle for your needs. You as the customer want to ask your questions here.
• Have your Credit Card / Debit Card ready and available. Keep in mind not all companies accept debit cards without certain criteria and you are subject to a soft credit check. Drivers licenses must match the name on the form of payment. Forms of payment must be attached to a bank account. Prepaid cards are not accepted as the initial form of payment for the vehicle.
• There will be almost always be some sort of deposit. The amount of the deposit can vary by who you are renting from and what type of vehicle you are renting.
• Note any and all damage on your vehicle. Take pictures on your phone, and let an employee know, often times they will offer to do a Pre-Rental Inspection Form.
• You are given the option to Pre-Pay your fuel, this is more of a convenience for the customer. If you plan on using a full tank and the gas outside is 4 cents' lower per gallon, unless you are a penny-pincher, prepay it. $ 0.04 X 16 gallons comes out to $ 0.64. Much worth the convenience of not having to worry about finding a gas station, missing your flight, or your bags not making the flight.
Why you should cover your vehicle:
• No matter whose fault any accident may be, you are responsible for the car and it's a contractual agreement. Therefore, you are paying for any damage that may have occurred to the vehicle. Another cost that you will be responsible for is depreciation.
• Do not purchase third-party coverages offered by Allianz or similar, these are reimbursement programs, you would still file with your insurance, pay your deductible and whatever is left, they would either choose to pick up or deny your claim.
• Rental car companies charge loss of use for down time of a vehicle while its being repaired.
• Your insurance would only cover up to the value of your own vehicle on the policy, if they cover at all. Keep in mind your deductible, and premiums. Insurance companies also do not ever cover loss of use, or depreciation of the vehicle, which will fall back on the customer.
• Credit cards generally have deductibles, and act as a secondary coverage. Your personal car insurance would still step in originally.