A vacation is supposed to be a way for you to rest, relax, and have fun! Unfortunately, just because they are supposed to be that way doesn’t mean they are. A lot can go wrong on a vacation, especially if you don’t prepare ahead of time.
Things can go wrong with your flight, with your hotel reservation, and tickets you pre-purchased, but problems are especially common if you have to rent a car.
Don’t let a rental car stress you out when you’re supposed to be relaxing! Follow these tips to make sure you enjoy a worry-free vacation, even if your vacation includes a rental car.
Look into Insurance
Things happen. Especially if you’re driving a car you aren’t used to in a place you aren’t familiar with. You don’t want to be worrying about how much money you’re going to owe if you accidentally drive through a stop sign and get into a car accident.
Do yourself a favor and make sure you have insurance coverage. Just be careful about where you get that coverage.
The coverage offered by the rental company is usually overpriced, and it isn’t always very good. Instead, buy one-week car insurance through a reputable insurance agency. You’ll get the exact coverage you need.
There’s a chance you may not need insurance at all. If you have a credit card, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you may already be covered, which makes additional car rental insurance useless.
Reserve Your Rental Car Ahead of Time
You know you shouldn’t just walk up to the ticket counter at the airport and expect a good deal on a good airplane seat. You shouldn’t expect a good deal if you walk up to the car rental counter at the airport either.
Instead, save money by reserving your rental car ahead of time. If you make your reservation months in advance, you’re likely to get the best possible price.
Reserving your car ahead of time comes with another perk—you can pick the car you want. If you wait until the last minute, you’ll be stuck driving whatever car they have left.
Inspect the Car Thoroughly When You Pick It Up
Rental car companies do their best, but they are staffed by humans who make mistakes. It isn’t all that uncommon for them to miss damages when a car is returned, which means you could be stuck footing the bill for a scratch when it wasn’t your fault.
Do yourself a favor and pre-inspect the rental car yourself before you drive off the lot. A few tips for inspecting the car include:
- Walking around the outside looking for scratches, dents, and dings.
- Inspect the interior for stains, cigarette burns, and damage.
- If you find any damages, document them with pictures.
- Inform the rental company of the damages before you leave.
Be Mindful of Who Is Driving the Car
You aren’t likely to spend a lot of time thinking about who is driving the vehicle, but you’ll wish you did if you get pulled over or find yourself in an accident. Only authorized people are contractually allowed to drive the rental vehicle. You could face some steep fees if the rental company discovers someone else is driving the car. Do yourself a favor and only let those who are endorsed drive the vehicle.
You should think carefully about who is endorsed on the vehicle too! Additional drivers cost extra, but drivers under 25 years of age cost even more. Save a little money by not allowing young drivers to operate the vehicle.
Don’t Let a Hold Charge Take You By Surprise
You may have seen hold charges on your credit card before. For example, many gas stations put a small hold on your card when processing your gas purchase. Car rental companies do the same thing but don’t let their charges take you by surprise.
You might see a charge of $100 or more. If traveling overseas, it might be $1,000 or more! That can put a dent in your vacation if you’re using a credit card that’s close to its limit. Make sure you know the charge ahead of time so you use the right card.
Don’t let the fact that you’re renting a car keep you up at night when you’re on vacation. With a little forethought, you can make sure your rental car isn’t the reason why your vacation isn’t as relaxing as it should be.