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When you’re on a vacation or business trip, the last thing you want to worry about is how you are going to get from the airport to your hotel. Many hotels have their shuttles to and from the airport, and with rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft available in nearly every city, renting a car may not be necessary to get around.

Even with all of these options available, renting a car may still be a good idea depending on your needs. Here is everything you need to know before you decide to rent a car.

How Much Driving Will You Be Doing?

When deciding whether or not you will need a rental car, one of the first things you want to think about is how much driving you will be doing while on vacation.

If you are traveling short distances to get to each destination or traveling in a big city, having a rental car will likely be more expensive than using a rideshare service to get around. Do your research and figure out which option is more economical before you book a rental car.

If you will be driving for over a week, check into prices for multiple reservations at different companies. While this may seem like a headache, it saved us hundreds. James and I already had a reservation with one car rental company when we decided to extend our stay. The original company wanted to charge us an extra $800 dollars for the extra time we would be using the vehicle and they wouldn’t budge on the price. We called another car rental company and got another reservation for the extended time for half the price of the original rental car company. While it was a little time consuming changing cars halfway through our vacation, it wasn’t that bad since we were still in the area.

Check With Your Credit Card Company Before Booking

There are a few key things you need to note about renting a car. First, while you are at the rental car counter, you will be offered rental car insurance to cover damages to the vehicle. This can be anywhere from ten to even twenty-five dollars per day.

If your car insurance doesn’t cover rental cars, your credit card may provide this service at no additional cost. Call your credit card company before going to the counter to see what limits there are to the coverage and if they offer it.

While you are on the phone with your credit card company, you should also ask about their damage policy for rental cars. While some credit card companies will cover the damages, you may get on the rental car; some will not include any fees by the rental car companies.

Be sure to ask all of these questions before you book your rental car to make sure you are covered.

This is also a great opportunity to check your points balance to see if you have enough points to cover your car rental! I have used my points several times to cover a car rental. It was so nice that I didn’t have to pay for it out of pocket.

There Is A Cost For Having Multiple Drivers And Drivers Under The Age Of 25

If yourself or anyone who is driving is under 25, you can expect to pay hefty fees for renting a car. There is a daily fee tacked onto your bill for having a driver under the age of 25 on the registration even if they don’t drive at all.

Even if you are over the age of 25, you will still pay additional fees for each driver registered to drive the car. Before you rent your car, think about how many drivers you’ll need. Can you get away with one person doing all the driving? If so, you could avoid many fees.

If you work for a large corporation, you may be able to get an extra discount and even be able to forgo the second driver fee by booking through your corporate discount pages.

There Are Extra Fees For Renting At The Airport

You may not be able to avoid this one depending on where you are traveling, but if you rent a car from the counter at the airport, you can expect to get a surcharge for the courtesy of having it at the airport. They have to pay surcharges at the airport, so if you are renting a car at the airport, you can expect to pay more in fees.

Avoid The Extras And Bring Your Own

When it comes to extras in your rental car, skip anything that isn’t included. You can bring your child seat and even your GPS system. If you choose to have them included in your car, you could be paying $3 a day or more depending on the feature you select.

Be sure to check your vehicle for extras before driving off the lot to make sure you don’t get stuck with the bill for something you didn’t want. Don’t forget to check the gas/fillup policy too.

Rental cars can be a convenient way to get around on vacation. If you go in prepared, you can avoid many of the fees that surprise most people when they hand over their card. Do research ahead of time and don’t be afraid to ask questions before you buy. If you know exactly what you are getting, there won’t be any surprises when the final bill arrives.

YOUR TURN: How much driving will you be doing on your next vacation? Is it worth it to rent a car? Let me know in the comments below!

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