Renting a vehicle isn’t generally considered fun, but when you need another set of wheels other than your own for long trips or when you are visiting a destination away from home, there a few other choices.  Renting an automobile offers you a sense of peace knowing that you don’t have to worry about the mileage or deterioration of your own vehicle or having to worry about relying on public transportation.  With the economy putting a tighter belt on our wallets, what might you do in order to help stay afloat and steer clear of getting conned with your next rental car? Here are some tips that we have learned throughout the years booking travel that I hope may add value in your next travel adventure.

Don’t rent a vehicle from the airport – You may pay a lot more by renting directly from the airport.   Fees charged by the airport for facilities, etc, for car rental companies are passed on to the customer.   Your rental car rate looks cheap until you choose where you’re picking up your automobile. Most rental car companies have various locations you are able to select from to pick up your rental. Take note of their hours of operation and if you’re able to return the car to another location.  If you do decide to rent off-airport, make sure there is a shuttle available.

Avoid the GPS – I have noticed car rental companies offer GPS systems in cars to assist you along your trip. Stick with a map instead because in some instances, rental companies charge extra mileage fees should they detect that you went more than the allowed mileage.  Sometimes GPS units will not take you on the shortest route causing additional time for travel as well as additional mileage.  My advice: Don’t order GPS for your car.  You could use your cell phone GPS as an alternative or use an atlas or maps.

Do I really have to Fill up the vehicle before bring it back? –  Depends… Not all auto rental companies fill their tanks.  This is a cost-cutting measure to ensure that you, the renter, gets the lowest rates.  Make sure you don’t use the gas stations near the airport given that they tend to have higher prices. Simply make it a rule to make time to fill the gas tank to the correct level before taking it back.

Price Gouging– I book travel all the time so when I am searching for pricing, I look just about everywhere. So should you! Book car rentals on the weekend because during the week; business travelers have a tendency to use rental services more. If you book online, be on the lookout for coupons or discount voucher codes which will help you save more. Beware though, some discount coupons will actually raise your rate higher than the advertised price online, and the car rental company will never call to inform you.  When you pick your vehicle up they’ll quote you higher than what you saw online. Compare, Compare, and Compare again until you find the right price for you.

Should I buy rental insurance or not? – This choice even confuses me, but what you can do to prevent costly fees is talk with your individual car insurance or credit card company to determine if it rolls over to car rentals. If it’s a leisure trip, most times you will be covered, but do your homework and check it out first.

Where’s my vehicle I rented? – Have you ever rented a specific car and when you got there it wasn’t even available? Rental-car agreements aren’t guaranteed, unless you rent from Carl’s Van Rentals, it’s just contingent on availability. If you’re ever stuck with an inferior car than what you picked, make sure they give you a rate adjustment. Car companies tend to pull this trick a lot and as long as you have a rental reservation, they are obligated to get you a car regardless.

Natural Disasters are your problem now – If a natural disaster occurs, it may your responsibility to get the car out of harm’s way and to ensure its safekeeping.  In addition, the time that you keep the vehicle will still be your responsibility regardless of circumstances.  Also, check the early return policy of your auto rental company. My advice: Read the fine print.