Ten Tips to Save on Car Rental

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Everyone shops around for discount rates for flights and hotels for their holiday, but how often do you consider shopping around to save on your car rental? It's so easy to just rent the first thing you see at the airport, never once thinking you could have saved a bundle by shopping around, comparing rates and looking for discounts.

Below are ten tips you can follow to help you save money on your next car rental.

1) Shop around. Don't settle for the first car rental quote you get when planning a holiday. Instead, get quotes from many car rental agencies to get the best rate. Sometimes calling and speaking to an agent can get you the best deal. Don't be afraid to ask about discounts. Also, tell them about rates at another agency as they may be compelled to match or better a rival's rates.

If you don't like to call around, you can try comparing rates online. One site, DriveNow (www.drivenow.com.au) allows you to compare prices and options amongst the top car rental agencies by inputting your travel information. They highlight the best deal option for each class of car. You can also compare excess option rates and other surcharges.

2) Consider booking a rental car online. A lot of online car rental companies will offer a discount if you book with them online. For example, DIY Car Hire (www.diycarhire.com.au) offers up to a 30% discount when booking with them online. Budget Rental (www.budget.com.au) offers a $5 per day discount when you book your car rental online.

3) Fees aren't your friend. There are many fees and charges the car rental place may not inform you about. The fine print is chock-full of fees and assorted taxes that can boggle the mind and put a dent in your vacation budget. Read your contract in detail before signing so you know exactly how much you'll pay for certain fees.

  • For example, do you know when your car needs to be returned? You may think it's at the closing time of a certain day but you may find the return time is more specific. Hertz offers a grace period of fifty-nine minutes over to return your rental. After the fifty-nine minute period you'll be charged for an additional day.
  • Other money pitfalls you should be wary of are mileage overages, fuel usage and believe it or not, extra tax at airport locations.

4) Optional Excess Reduction? Though it sounds official and confusing, optional excess reduction is simply an added daily fee to help reduce the excess you will pay out of your pocket in the event of an accident. The standard liability insurance in Australia is an average of $2500.00 that you are responsible for in the event of an accident. If you go for the Optional Excess Reduction fee you'll pay $20 to $24 extra a day for the rental and reduce your excess down to $300 to $400.

As you can guess, this fee has a benefit and disadvantages. The benefit is the obvious savings in your excess if you have an accident. However, you will be paying an additional $20 a day or more for an accident you're not necessarily going to have. If you rent the car for 10 days you'll pay an additional $200 and then some--that's money you could be spending on food, petrol or excitement.

  • To save money, make sure you have $2,000 built up in credit or savings to cover the liability issues in the event of an accident. Then you can waive the optional excess reduction and keep the cash in your pocket.

5) The fuel tank rules. The fuel tank has a lot of control these days, especially with the price of petrol going sky high. There are several fuel-related tips you can follow to save you a bundle when renting a car.

  • Check the fuel tank before leaving the car rental agency. Customers are expected to leave the fuel tank full before dropping the car off, and a tank less than full when you leave the rental agency is extra money robbed from your pocket. Alert the car rental agent immediately.
  • Before dropping off the car make sure you fill up the tank at a petrol station as close to the car rental agency as possible. Fuel missing from the tank will be charged to your credit card at an inflated cost over consumer petrol costs.
  • Avoid taking an upgrade in vehicles if you're driving long distances. You might think the extra room is nice to have until you begin filling that guzzling fuel tank. Go for the smallest, most fuel-economic vehicle you can.

6) Have someone 25 or older rent and drive the vehicle. If you have a large party traveling this holiday you can save money if the car rental is taken out by someone 25 or older. You can rent a car as young as 21 years of age but car rental companies see this as a liability. You can be charged a surcharge of as little as $13.20 a day to as much as $23.00 a day because you're not 25 years old. Some agencies won't even rent a car to those under 25 years, so make sure you check around.

7) Rent for longer. Sometimes you can get a better deal if you rent for longer periods of time. Some rental places have a weekly rate. You'll want to inquire as to when the week starts and ends so you plan your car rental to be able to take full advantage of the savings. For example, Hertz (www.hertz.com) is offering a savings for summer Australian car rentals. When you book a car for seven days or more you get a day for free.

8) Check into weekend savings. Some places offer a discount if you're renting for the weekend only. For example, Hertz offers a 10% discount on weekend rentals in certain Australia locations during the summer. Budget has many weekend deals that offer a savings off the regular rate and a distance savings of 200km traveled for free.

9) Consider becoming a member. Being a member of a car rental company's preferred member club can result in a multitude of savings. Hertz is waiving their $50 nominal fee for their Hertz #1 Gold Club for Australia and New Zealand residents this year. Membership gets you some free rental coupons, access to special rates in Australia and abroad, and a faster check-out at airport rental facilities.

10) Look for savings in other places. Sometimes you can save on car rentals by checking into other avenues you wouldn't normally look at. For example, check with your credit card company, your insurance company and even your airline of choice. Sometimes these little-thought-of venues can offer you a savings toward your car rental fees.

In conclusion
Planning ahead and checking into car rental options can net you a savings your family and your wallet will cheer about. By shopping around, looking into membership plans or purchasing online you can guarantee saving a bundle on car rental that you can use toward having a relaxing holiday.

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