Tips for getting the best deal on car rental
_Check out alternatives to the big car-rental agencies.
Willdorf said many Toyota dealers and some Ford dealers rent out cars by the day from their lots for as low as $36 a day. Check Web sites for dealers in your destination area.
And Rent-A-Wreck is “an unfortunate name for a very useful service,” Willdorf said. The company has lots near 38 airports. Just know that their vehicles are not new — they have between 40,000 and 80,000 miles on them, Willdorf said.
Willdorf said Budget Travel’s price comparison showed a daily rate from Hertz at $106 a day compared to Rent-a-Wreck for $28 a day.
A car-sharing service like ZipCar might be an option if you only need a car for a few hours during your trip. But the costs add up — membership fee, hourly rates, and substantial penalties for returning a car late.
_Airport-related taxes add about 10 percent or more to the price of a car rental, Willdorf said.
“Just leaving the airport and picking up a car in the city can save you money,” said Willdorf.
If you have to take a cab into town, of course, you lose any savings you might realize, but if you’re taking a free van to your hotel or public transportation, it could be worth it. She added that some rental companies will also drop a car off to you.
_If you have collision and liability on the car you own, you probably won’t need additional insurance for a car rental for a leisure trip, Willdorf said.
Some credit cards also provide car rental insurance if you use the card to pay for the rental. But call your credit card company to be sure, and ask about the terms. The credit card insurance may not cover a period longer than a 30-day rental, for example.
Credit card companies may also require extensive documentation from the car rental company before making good on a claim. For example, some car rental companies charge “loss of use” fees, which means you’ll be charged a fee for every day that a damaged car is in the repair shop, because the company is losing money keeping it off the road. A credit card company may demand fleet vehicle logs before paying that fee, Lyons said.
Lyons said she and her husband always buy insurance from rental companies because “for us, it’s worth it to know that if something happened, you can just walk away.”
_Hybrid cars are more expensive to rent than conventional cars, but if you’re taking a cross-country road trip, you could save money on gas.
Willdorf said Kayak has the most comprehensive listings for hybrids, and Enterprise and Hertz have the most hybrid cars in their fleets.