Sometimes, renting a car means standing in long lines, discovering that the car you reserved isn't available, and learning that the fee quoted doesn't include additional charges such as insurance, coverage for more than one driver, and refueling fees.
You can reduce the number of times you encounter problems at the rental counter by learning about your rights when renting a car and following several tips.
If you’ve reserved a car, but the company doesn’t have the car you reserved available for you when you arrive, the company must do everything it can to find you a different car from its fleet—if you arrive on time for your reservation. If the only available car is more expensive, you don't have to pay the higher rate. If no car is available, you can rent from another company or take a taxi and then seek reimbursement for your extra costs from the original car rental company.
Rental car companies charge rental fees as well as many other special fees and charges. Here's the low-down:
Rental rates. Rental car companies usually charge rental rates per day. The rate might include unlimited mileage, or the company might charge per mile for each mile over a certain limit. Many companies offer lower rates for weekend or week-long rentals. Rentals at locations other than airports are usually cheaper. Also, members of organizations such as the American Automobile Association (AAA) often can get discounted rates.
Other fees and charges. Most car rental companies tack on a number of additional fees and charges. They must notify you of these fees before you sign the rental agreement. Here are the fees you're most likely to encounter:
Rental car companies will ask if you want to pay extra for car insurance. You don't have to buy this insurance. To determine if you should buy extra rental insurance, check all of the following to see if they provide insurance coverage for a rental car:
If you want to buy insurance from the rental company, it will most likely be called loss damage waiver (LDW), also known as collision damage waiver (CDW). Many consumer protection organizations complain that LDW is expensive and has many loopholes. That means that the company can charge you for certain damage even if you've bought LDW. For example, bodily injuries or damage that was caused intentionally or recklessly are usually not covered. Still, if you’re not comfortable about your existing coverage, buying the extra insurance might be worth it.
Other types of offered insurance typically include: