Whenever you’re landing in a new city for a business trip or vacation, it pays to have a rental car ready to go. If you want to take a road trip but either don’t own a car or don’t think your ride can handle the journey, renting is a top option. When your car breaks down, a rental can save your day, week or month.
There are many reasons to rent a car, but the process itself is always just about the same. Getting familiar with the basics before you want – or need – to get a rental car can help you get through the steps easily and smoothly, with no hassle.
Do you have to be 25 to rent a car? This is an oft-repeated question, and the answer will differ by state and rental provider. As USA Today noted, all licensed drivers aged 18 and older can rent cars in New York and Michigan. In other states, the rental agencies set the ages they will and won’t rent to. Drivers under the age of 25 may be subject to extra costs and charges when they’re allowed to rent. With that said, 25 is hardly the strict cut-off it is sometimes presented as.
Another age-related question is the maximum age range for rentals – some counties limit older drivers from renting cars, so USA Today recommends checking with your rental organization if you’re 70 or over to make sure you’re in line with the local law.
What about the fuel cost? When it comes to gassing your car up, you’ll likely have options based on which provider you’re renting from. In some models, you can pay a flat rate and return the car with as much or as little gas as you have left, and fueling up on the road is at your discretion. In other versions, it’s part of your agreement to fill up the tank before returning the car.
Where are you going to drop the car off? When you’re dealing with a chain of rental services, you can often bring the car to a different location, a perfect option for a one-way road trip. There are typically fees associated with this option, though.
Other options you may encounter include toll payment and optional equipment. Your rental agency may offer a variety of services when it comes to how you pay tolls on the road, while optional equipment can range from car seats to ski racks and winter tires – check with your rental provider to see what’s available.
When you’re renting outside of your home country, there are a few extra facts to check on beforehand. Does your insurance cover overseas rentals? Are you familiar with the signage and the rules of the road where you’re going? Are the age rental rules more or less strict in your destination? You may also need a $20 license called an International Driving Permit, though this has fallen somewhat out of favor in recent years. It’s something to check on before you take off.
Charges and payment options
The rules and regulations around car rentals – and the fees related to renting – tend to differ from state to state. One such charge may come if you don’t want to be the only driver on a trip. Consumer Affairs explained that having an additional driver for your rented car is allowed if those individuals are listed as possible drivers on the rental agreement, but there can be small charges for each extra person. Depending on the state, your spouse may be able to drive the car with no extra paperwork, as long as he or she is a licensed driver who is 18 or older.
There are four kinds of insurance and liability coverage that typically come with car rentals including collision damage, liability protection, personal accident insurance and personal effects coverage. These are all optional, and they act as additional and supplemental coverage options. Your auto insurance provides some level of coverage. Consumer Affairs noted you can check with your insurance provider and credit card provider before you begin a journey to see which kinds of liability you are protected against without purchasing additional insurance.
If you need to rent cars frequently, for instance if your work brings you to new cities every few weeks or months, it can pay to investigate repeat-customer discounts and loyalty programs. These systems can give you all sorts of advantageous bonuses, such as vehicle class upgrades or free rental days, just for sticking with one business over time. When you find a rental partner you like and trust, sticking with that car rental company may prove valuable.
In today’s tech-saturated world, it’s likely you’ll get info about your rental car through your phone. Some rental partners make this process easy by offering specialized mobile apps like the Advantage Rent A Car mobile app. When you’re using an app to facilitate your rental, you get quick and accurate information about rental vehicle options and your reservation. This makes the whole rental process quicker and easier than before.
Now that you know what to expect, rent with confidence!