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Tips for Hassle-Free Car Rentals While You Travel

The average car rental is a process to which you should give more than last-minute attention before you travel. Unfortunately, many families (and business travelers) fail to do a few small things in advance that could lead to a less stressful car-rental travel experience.

As any frequent traveler knows, getting the car rental right at the beginning of the trip can certainly result in a more enjoyable trip for everyone concerned. This article contains five tips for successful car rentals. Every traveler should make note of the advice.

1. Do a little homework. Even a little preparation can save dollars. The wise traveler will make sure his or her own automobile insurance is up to date and sufficient for any planned car rental needs. Travelers need not take the rental company insurance offered if their own car coverage can protect them adequately. The only exception to this might be lack of personal insurance because the renter does not own a vehicle.

2. Understand your rental agreement. Wise car rental customers will make sure they understand the terms and requirements of any car or vehicle rental agreement. This is a major part of preparation for travel and car rental, and should not studied only when a problem arises. Some details that you should always confirm include:

1) How many miles are allowed per day (unlimited mileage is best for most travelers).

2) Is the customer required to refill the gasoline tank when the car is returned? Rental companies generally offer a fuel option that allows the customer to pay up front for a tank of gasoline. This means that the driver can return the car without filling the tank. In most cases it is best to buy gasoline when needed, filling the tank just before returning the car.

3. Know what you are renting. While many travelers will actually consider insurance, mileage, and gasoline when renting a car, most will not take the time to look at the car’s physical condition to check for dents, scratches, and other problems. Car rental companies will sometimes try to blame these problems on the current renter. To avoid this difficulty, wise car rental customers will point out any deficiencies prior to taking the car, making sure that the company representative notes scratches, dents, and upholstery problems, in writing.

Tip: Experienced renters use their digital cameras to document any problems before driving away.

4. Look for value, but pay for happiness. The car rental industry has grown quickly and now includes dozens of choices. This level of competition has led to reduced prices, even from some of the top-name companies. Of course, the best deal for the lowest price is everyone’s goal. However, the lowest price is not always the key to happiness. (It is always a good idea to pay particular attention to the ‘howevers’.)

As the choices expand, customers are tempted to choose lesser-known companies to save money. Many of these occasional renters assume that state and federal laws will protect them from any major difficulties. While it is generally true that ‘name-brand’ corporations and many smaller companies will provide a quality, worry-free experience, problems can arise with some of the smaller start-up businesses.

The wise renter will be sure to clear up any doubts about terms and car conditions, especially with smaller fleet businesses. The pressure of creating and growing a business may lead some to cut corners. In the end, the customer may have to pay for that pressure.

5. Stress the small details. There are a number of items in the small print of rental agreements that can add to or subtract from the overall cost you finally end up paying. Two that you should understand fully at the start are:

1) Return requirements – Is the original renter required to bring the car back to the same location? There may be a charge for returning the vehicle to another site.

2) Will there be an extra charge if the driver is under a particular age? Companies may include a surcharge if the driver is under 25, for example. This can mean unanticipated charges at the end of your trip. Make sure you read the small print, and ask questions before driving that rental car off the lot.

Vacations can be hectic enough without adding the stress of a bad car rental into the equation. The mistakes that the average traveler makes when renting a car can end up costing him or her money in the end. Wise travelers can avoid these mistakes by following the five tips above to achieve a successful stress-free car rental.

Thanks to 111 Travel Directory for these tips.

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