The best way to tour and learn about a place is to rent a car. There are no bus drivers and tour guides to tell you it’s time to go, there are no other tourists to wait for, and you can stop at interesting places or take alternative routes, should you wish to. Renting a car to travel is undoubtedly very convenient and customized to your needs and wants. The last we heard, it was also a lot cheaper than typical modes of transportation.
However, how does a traveller get the best deal out of rent-a-car services? Rental rates vary throughout the day, in consideration of the highs and lows of demand. Changes can occur at any point; reservations and prior arrangements can go awry; the car you reserved for your trip may not be the car that’s available on the day you booked. This business is, without doubt, one that is not static.
When considering renting a vehicle, here is some information that will prepare the wary road explorer:
- When there are price drops or discounted rates after you’ve made reservations for a car, you may opt to cancel reservation and re-book with the lowered rates. Know that reservations can be cancelled. Unless specifically provided for in the contract, no penalties are imposed on cancelled reservations. Don’t let the notion that you can’t cancel a reservation without penalties dampen the excitement of a road trip. Ask for this option, especially if you’re renting the car for an extended period. Imagine the money you’ll save.
- Before you speed away, take note of your departure and arrival time. Is there a likelihood that you’ll arrive a few hours or minutes after the stated time and date? Rental car operators often have policies that charge half the going rate per day on fractions of time beyond the stipulated return. Pricing is also generally based on 24-hour increment, not by the hour. If that’s the case, make a few changes on your departure or arrival time to avoid wasting money on unused service.
- Consider the possibility that the car you reserved is not available, which happens a lot. Instead of taking another car in the same price level, ask for an upgrade for free. Operators are normally very obliging to customers’ requests, especially when the fault comes from their end. If you enjoy an elite status with the company, frequent upgrades can be availed of, such as upgrading of midsize cars to full-size cars at no additional cost.
- If you use the services of the company regularly, sign up for its membership loyalty program. If you’re already enrolled, see if you qualify for elite status. The status allows you to gain many privileges, discounts and perks. Some credit card companies provide elite status to eligible members, too.
- Innovative car rental concepts are operating in major cities in the country. Silvercar, for instance, has introduced a modernized approach to the traditional rent-a-car. Transactions are done online. When you arrive at the airport, your smartphone does away with the long paperwork by scanning the Audi A4’s windshield for the QR code. Silvercar’s luxury sedans feature GPS, WiFi and satellite radio, and the car is yours for around $70 a day.
- Negotiate for deletion of many unnecessary add-ons. A big part of the amount you pay includes insurance and similar fees. Your company or your credit card most likely covers insurance already. If that is the case, the add-on is unnecessary. Ask for exclusion or waiving of the fee.
Car rental is a great way to travel. Learn the tricks and it will be a cheaper way to travel, too.