So you’re traveling on vacation, a road trip, or you just need to rent a vehicle. What things do you need to consider? Should you rent two cars, an SUV, or something completely different. The direction you choose can dramatically affect your experience. Choosing the correct vehicle for the task at hand is very important. After all, you wouldn’t rent a compact car if you are moving – you’d want a box truck or a cargo van!

So what’s important? First and foremost, think about how many people and pieces of luggage you’re going to be needing the space for. If you are traveling with lots of luggage, consider that you will need room for that luggage as well as room to move around for the passengers in the vehicle. Also, consider how much time you’re actually going to spend in the vehicle. If you are only going from an airport to your hotel and dropping off the luggage, definitely get the smallest vehicle you can get away with. This is going to help save money in fuel as well as price of the vehicle. However, if you are going on a road trip, you may want to think about going with a larger vehicle. It may cost more in terms of fuel and rental, but it might be well worth it to you and your passengers in terms of comfort and space.

Second, keep in mind that you will want to check with your insurance company to make sure that they will cover the vehicle. There are few things worse than getting back to your rental company with new damage to your rental and finding out that your auto insurance won’t cover the damage. If you’re under the impression that your credit card will cover the damage, you may be in for a surprise as well. Credit cards don’t necessarily cover all vehicle types nor are they primary in terms of what they cover. For example, American Express will not cover any type of pickup truck, full size SUV, or cargo van. For the vehicles that they do cover, they will only cover as a secondary means. What this translates into is that Amex will only pick up the tab after all other insurances are exhausted (denial of coverage by personal insurance or insurance purchased through a car rental company does not count). So, if your coverage on a rental vehicle is for $5,000 and there is $7,000 worth of damage, Amex will only pick up that additional $2,000.

The length of the rental and the distance that you are driving are also important factors in deciding the type of vehicle and with whom you rent the vehicle from. If you plan to travel long distance, check with the company that you’re renting from to see what their boundaries are and whether or not you can leave the country if you plan to do so. Also, check on included mileage, etc, when you are booking. Be upfront with where you are going. Some companies offer unlimited mileage but only to specific areas. Don’t try to “pull a fast one” and tell them that you are going somewhere that they offer unlimited mileage and go outside of that range. Most car rental companies these days have GPS tracking units on their vehicles. Also, if you get a ticket for running a red light, a parking ticket, or simply leave a receipt for gas in the vehicle with dates, times and locations on it, you may get nailed with excess mileage charges. Keep it honest and you’ll have a better experience!