Have you ever been fooled by a car rental pricing scam? It's ok, you're not alone. Car rental companies are known for enticing customers with ridiculously low advertised rates. The only problem? These rates conveniently exclude all of the additional fees. Hidden costs, unnecessary add-ons, and last minute hard sell tactics can wind up costing you hundreds of dollars when renting a car, so be careful!
If a car rental price seems like it's too good to be true, chances are it is. Car rental price boosting tactics are all too common in today's competitive marketplace, as rental companies attempt to undersell their competitors, without cutting revenue. Don't let a car rental company take you for a ride. Here are five common car rental scams and how you can avoid wracking up additional costs.
1) Unnecessary Insurance Coverage
It happens every time you go to rent a car – you're ready to grab the keys and go, but before you can drive off into the sunset you need to decide on insurance coverage. At an additional $30 or more a day, over the counter car rental insurance is costly. But it's something you have to have, right?
You'd be surprised how often the insurance offered by car rental agents duplicates insurance coverage that you already have! When confronted with the question of car rental insurance, remember that there are at least four kinds of insurance policies available to you: collision damage waiver, supplemental liability protection, personal accident insurance, and personal effects coverage. These coverages are all optional, and in most cases, the company cannot refuse to provide you with a vehicle if you decline to purchase any.
When deciding whether you need to purchase over the counter car rental insurance consider the coverage that you already have on your vehicle at home. If you have comprehensive and collision coverage on your personal vehicle, it will likely extend to your rental vehicle (it's always best to call and double check with your insurance broker first). The car rental company is required, by law, to carry the minimum liability insurance necessary, so the supplemental protection is probably overkill. Your own policy may offer additional coverage as well. Finally, personal accident insurance and personal effects coverage are usually duplicated in your home, life, or health insurance plan.
Before you opt out of any car rental insurance offers, make sure that you contact your insurance company to confirm your current level of protection. The only thing worse that purchasing duplicate coverage is finding out that you have no coverage at all.
2) Don't Prepay For Gas
Car rental companies make a killing off of prepaid gas options, so be careful! If ever a rental agent asks you if you would like the option of prepaying for a full tank of gas, instead of filling up before dropping the car back off, say no. Unless you have a tendency to be tardy returning your car rental, this so-called convenience is actually a major rip-off. How often do you return your car rental with absolutely no gas in the tank? Never. So no matter how you slice it, you'll always be paying for extra fuel.
3) Avoid Additional Upgrades
Car rental companies have a bad habit of overbooking economy rental classes. When this happens, the company is required to provide you with a free vehicle upgrade. However, many companies instruct their sales agents to try and sell you the upgrade first! Unsuspecting renters often end up paying for an upgrade that they were going to received for free! Talk about a car rental scam! If ever an upgrade is offered to you, politely decline. If the company can't provide you with the vehicle you reserved, you'll enjoy an upgrade for free.
4) Don't Forget the Fine Print
Car rental restrictions and rules are often buried in the small print of a rental contract. It used to be that car rental companies would look the other way and waive these fees, but this is becoming less and less common. So remember to ask about charges BEFORE you reserve you car rental. Remember to ask about charges if your flight is delayed or if you go over your allotted mileage. What if you need to cancel your reservation? Will there be drop-off fees if you're forced to fly out of a different airport? Knowing these costs ahead of time will help you better prepare for your rental bill.
As you can see, car rental companies will often intentionally lowball their prices in order to lure unsuspecting customers to the counter. Don't let yourself be fooled! Get the true rental price before making your reservation by using the Car Rental Express rate search tool.