For the novice, renting a car can seem like an intimidating and complicated process. And while it’s actually quite simple, between deciding on the best vehicle for your situation and learning what’s included in the fine print, it’s easy to see how it can get confusing. Extra insurance or no insurance? Luxury car rental or exotic car rental. You get the idea.
No two car rental experiences are alike, and some things will be dependent on the details of your trip. But in order to make things a little easier, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 Commandments of renting a vehicle.
One: Thou shalt look up car rental company reviews.
It’s sad but true: people like to complain when they’re angry and seldom praise businesses for getting it right. But if you look up a company and only see negative reviews, you may want to reconsider. A “good deal” may not end up being so great if you have to wait three hours for your rental car or incur hidden charges. Talk to your friends and family, also—sometimes the best reviews come from the people we know.
Two: Thou shalt thoroughly know thy auto insurance plan.
Do you have comprehensive coverage? Will your auto insurance company pay for damages if you’re in a rental car? This information is crucial to know before you start looking for car rental information. You don’t want to buy more insurance than you need, but you do want to make sure you’re protected in case anything happens.
Three: Thou shalt look for car rental deals.
There are a lot of deal, specials and promotions out there. Car Rental Express can help you find them, but you should always research each company thoroughly. For example, some companies offer extra military discounts or a cheaper rate for renting a car for a day or two longer than you’d planned.
Four: Thou shalt check with thy road service provider.
Are you a member of a roadside assistance program? Check to see if the coverage extends to rental cars.
Five: Thou shalt be polite to thy rental counter agent—but also ask questions.
The people working at car rental counters deal with it all—tired travelers, angry people and confused tourists. They appreciate a polite customer. But feel free to ask any questions you may have about your vehicle, such as when it last received maintenance and what you should do if it breaks down or you lose your keys. Whether you’ve never rented a car before or you’re a seasoned professional, every car rental company is different, so don’t hesitate to ask.
Six: Thou shalt listen thoroughly to thy rental counter agent.
Please pay attention when the terms of rental and drop off instructions are explained to you. You will be very glad you did.
Seven: Thou shalt inspect thy rental car before leaving the lot.
The last thing you want is to pay for damages someone else has done. While this rarely happens—vehicles are thoroughly inspected before they’re rented again—it’s best to give your temporary car a check before you hop inside. Walk around the car, snap photos, and open the hood to check the fluid levels. While you’re at it, make sure the car has a spare tire.
Eight: Thou shalt double check the odometer and gas gauge.
Any rental car that has over 25,000 miles on it is considered a senior rental car. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you may want to keep an extra eye out for anything that could go wrong. Also, your car’s gas tank should be full when you pick it up.
Nine: Thou shalt treat thy temporary vehicle as thy own.
Have you heard all the running jokes about how people rent cars and then proceed to drive them like they stole them? Please avoid doing this. Drive your rental car responsibly. Keep it as clean as you can. Don’t ding other cars’ doors, don’t tailgate, and don’t be extra harsh on the engine. Treat it well and you’ll avoid having to pay for any damages later.
Ten: Thou shalt fill the gas tank before returning thy rental vehicle.
Always return your rental car with a full tank of gas. Most companies will give you the option not to, but they end up charging significantly more when they do it themselves. Save money by taking the extra few minutes to fill the tank.