While a rental car can make getting around much easier and budget-friendly, there are a few common car rental mistakes to keep in mind to help save you money.
Here are four financial pitfalls to be aware of when renting a car:
Mistake #1: Renting a car at the airport
Ever notice how everything seems more expensive at the airport? That’s because it is! Airports in Canada charge “premium location fees” to vendors setting up shop in their hallways and kiosks. These fees can range from airport to airport but are generally between 10 and 15 per cent. Expect to pay even more abroad.
For airport car rental locations, these special fees are passed on to the renter. If you are planning on staying in the city, it might be worthwhile taking a taxi to a nearby offsite car rental location. Although this option can be somewhat inconvenient, you might stand to save a bundle (not to mention enjoying shorter lines!)
Mistake #2: Not understanding penalties
Everyone knows returning a car late will cost extra, but did you know that some car companies charge you for returning a car early? Understanding the finer details of the penalties outlined on your contract can help ensure you are not paying more than you need to. Here are a couple of staple penalties of most car rental contracts in Canada:
- Never smoke in your rental car, as you will pay a hefty cleaning fee.
- Always top up the gas tank of the rental car to its original level to avoid paying fuel and convenience charges.
- Know in advance where you will be dropping off your vehicle, as changing the drop-off location after the fact can carry charges.
- Keep in mind: any breech of the contract usually carries penalties as well.
Mistake #3: Adding unnecessary extra services
Bells and whistles cost extra – period. If you are offered an upgrade or services like “roadside service” or GPS, be sure to check its fee structure. Although these extras are convenient and may very well be beneficial to your journey, it’s wise to make sure that there are no cheaper alternatives before you sign.
For example: GPS service from a car rental company can cost more than $10 per day. This may not cause much of a dent in your wallet during a short trip, but if you are renting the car for more than a week you may consider purchasing a used GPS system for less money.
Mistake #4: Waiving car rental insurance
Unless you are covered through your current insurance provider for car rentals, purchasing car rental insurance is a wise decision that may very well save you money in the long run. From not being used to the car, to driving through unfamiliar streets, there are a variety of factors which might raise the risk of an accident occurring during your trip. As always, safety is paramount.
Our Trouble-Free Option is a car insurance package that offers additional coverage for those renting a vehicle, so that you can have peace of mind, no matter how long or short your next vacation.
Mistake #5: Rushing
As with most things in life, if you rush through something, you run the risk of making a mistake. The same applies to car rental agreements: if you sign the agreement without giving care to the fine print, you run the risk of paying for things you do not need. Take a deep breath and take the time to understand what you are signing. You might thank yourself down the road.
If you’re thinking of renting a vehicle for your next vacation, be sure to shop around and take advantage of membership perks to get the best possible deal, so that you can spend your vacation budget on your vacation, not on your rental car.