These days, kids look forward to many exciting milestones as they grow older. There is the thrill of turning 16 and getting behind the wheel, the responsibility they feel when voting at age 18, and the treasured age of 21 when they can legally drink. However, it is not all downhill from there. Young adults have one more milestone to look forward to, which is the ability to rent a car.
While the idea of renting a car to go on a road or business trip may sound exciting, the task is not without its red tape and necessary reminders. If you are looking to rent a car in the future, heed these tips and cost-saving tricks.
Getting the Car
The first thing to know about renting a car is that, in general, most rental locations will ask that the driver is over the age of 25. The reason for this is that it has been statistically proven that drivers under that age are more likely to get in auto accidents, and the rental company is trying to mitigate the risk. Note that there can be some exceptions to the rule.
Some rental car companies will rent to people who are between the ages of 18 and 25. However, there will be stipulations. In addition to needing a credit card, you will likely be required to pay a supplementary fee, and if you want to add additional drivers, they will have to be over the age of 25, so you can’t have multiple drivers under that age.
Also, keep in mind that, when you originally go to reserve your car and you enter your age, your initial rates will likely be higher than people who are past the age and have more driving experience.
Speaking of reservations, your best bet is to rent your car at an establishment that is not located at the airport itself because the rental will often cost more, as there will often be additional surcharges for the convenience of getting your car right then and there. Making a reservation is always a great idea as doing so provides your best chance of getting the vehicle you want.
With so many people renting at the airport, they may have a limited supply, and your preferred option may not be available.
You’re Going to Want a Credit Card
In addition to being of a certain age, the other primary requirement of renting a car is to pay with a credit card. The reason for this is that the rental companies want a card on file in case there is any damage to the vehicle or you are on the hook for any additional costs. The fact that you have a valid credit card also says other things about you that you may not realize.
For instance, it tells that rental company that you have at least a decent credit history of paying back your debts. Also, if you were given the privilege of having a credit card, it means that the credit card company has thoroughly vetted you as a user, so the rental company will consider you to be more trustworthy.
Although a credit card will be requested and encouraged in most rental agreements, you won’t necessarily be turned down if you don’t have one. You may also be able to use a debit card for your rental. However, keep in mind that you may be charged the entire amount upfront, and it will come out of your bank account.
You can also try to use cash, but the company will also likely request a card to be put on file in case of unforeseen charges.
Budgeting is key when renting a car because even if you pay upfront, there are likely to be additional fees if you don’t plan accordingly. One of the most common surprise fees is the fuel charge that the company will require if you return the car without a full gas tank.
To make matters worse, the rental company could charge extraordinary rates for gas, sometimes up to $9 a gallon, so fill it up right before you return the car to avoid this unnecessary charge. You could also be charged a fee if you return the car too early, so review your contract and plan accordingly.
You’ll Need Insurance
Before anyone drives off of the lot at any rental car location, they will need to have insurance. Having the proper coverage and being prepared as you zoom around in your rental car is as important for you as it is for the company that owns the car, so it is crucial to understand what you are getting into. There are four types of coverage that you will need to consider:
• Collision Damage Waiver (covers damage to the vehicle).
• Supplemental Liability Protection (covers injury to property or other people).
• Personal Accident Insurance (covers medical benefits).
• Personal Effects Coverage (insures against theft of the vehicle).
If you can afford to get complete coverage, then it is recommended that you do so. However, it is important to keep in mind that you may not have to buy insurance from the rental agency at all. If you already have collision and liability coverage on your car insurance, then you may not need supplemental coverage with the rental agency.
You should also look at the details of your credit card, as many offer rental car insurance as one of its perks.
Just like how the city where you reside could impact your car insurance costs, so could the area where you are traveling.
Studies show that some states in the country are less safe than others when it comes to driving and speeding accidents, with some of the more dangerous areas including Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota. If you are renting your car in one of these states, you may pay a bit more, so budget accordingly.
Also, be sure to drive defensively to avoid a car accident, and you won’t have to worry about paying for damages at all.
Yes, renting a car is an exciting endeavor, but it is not one without its fair share of caveats. Take the time to research your ideal vehicle and the potential costs and make your experience that much more enjoyable.