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10 Tips with Renting a Car

Hey, it’s Ernest from Trip Astute. In this video, I want to share our top 10 tips when renting a car during your trip. (light chiming music) Renting a car, like many other travel experiences, can be both easy and complicated. It’s easy to reserve a car but then you’re often presented with a bunch of choices that can be a bit confusing. Things like GPS, insurance, and refueling.

All these things seem important, but they come at a fairly high premium. So today, I want to review some things that I recommend when renting a car, especially here in the US. But first, if you’re new here, I want to welcome you to our channel. Trip Astute is a travel channel that is focused on sharing ways to make travel easier, affordable, and more enjoyable. Traveling can be stressful and expensive, so we’re looking for ways to help you maximize your experience through travel tips, points and miles, and innovative gear.

If that sounds interesting to you, please consider subscribing.

So, let’s jump into our top tips. Some of these things might seem obvious especially if you’re a savvy and experienced traveler. But I’m hoping that there are a few tips in this list that are still helpful to you. Number 1: Sign up for a car rental rewards program.

Some of you might have access to a car rental rewards program through work or your credit card. If so, you’re going to want to make sure to register for the loyalty program. I think the biggest perk is that some of these programs will have your car ready for you when you get to the airport so you don’t have to waste time checking in to the counter. You just pull up your reservation on your app or look for your name on the board in the lot, which should indicate your car. If you have a premium travel credit card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you have access to some of the higher status levels with certain rental car companies.

If you need more information, check out our video on how to maximize these benefits on the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Number 2: Inspect your car. A lot of times, we just want to get on the road as quick as possible. However, I suggest doing a quick visual inspection of your car’s exterior and making sure that any damage, especially any big scratches or dents, are recorded when you were checking out of the rental car lot. You definitely don’t want to be held liable for any damages to the car, especially if it was there when you picked up the vehicle.

This is especially important if you don’t have some kind of primary insurance coverage for your rental car through a credit card.

That brings me to number 3: Know your insurance options. Many premium travel credit cards offer primary insurance coverage for rental cars. This allows you to decline the expensive and limited insurance coverage when renting a vehicle. We did a video a while back on how it works and different scenarios for coverage, so definitely check it out.

It’s a bit complicated but definitely worth understanding before your next car rental. Number 4: Don’t use points to book your car rental. This one’s a bit controversial. I haven’t seen anything official about this, but I noticed a few folks on FlyerTalk who said that car insurance coverage from a credit card only applies if you pay for your car rental in full with your credit card. I heard this advice a few years ago as well, so I generally pay for car rentals out of pocket instead of using points.

Though if you have any experience or first-hand knowledge with the situation, let me know below in the comment section. Number 5: Avoid underage rental fees. Most rental car companies will charge you extra if you’re under the age of 25 and want to rent a car. While this charge is hard to avoid if you’re under 25, there are some potential ways to get around it if you happen to be a AAA member, you can get the fee waived with Hertz. And if you’re a USAA member, you can do the same with Enterprise.

Number 6: Avoid refueling options. Rental car companies will often pitch refueling options that seem convenient but are generally a bad deal. One option is to refill your car to the necessary level but at three or four times the normal cost of fuel.

I think that on our last trip, the signs at the Las Vegas Avis desk said that they were charging $9 per gallon for a refuel. Also, another option is to pay for a full tank refill.

The per gallon rate is generally a little bit higher than the normal market rate, but the catch is that they will charge you for a full tank regardless of your fuel level when you return the car.

In general, it’s a better deal to just fill up your gas tank before returning your car. And with all the tools and apps available, it’s easier than ever to find a gas station near your location. Number 7: Pack a phone charger, cable, and cradle. If I plan to rent a car, I always pack a car charger, two charging cables, and a cheap vent clip cradle for my phone.

It’s so much cheaper than renting a GPS from the rental car company.

Plus, I can use the apps that I’m already comfortable with and familiar with. Number 8: Turn on speed limit indicators. Several navigation apps offer the ability to show speed limits in certain areas. I find this feature to be so useful when driving in new areas, especially when the speed limit isn’t visible or know.

I use Waze most times when driving and you can enable this feature under settings in the speedometer section. Also, if you’re an Android user, you can enable this feature in Google Maps. Sadly, this feature is not available in the iOS version of Google Maps. Number 9: Enable eco mode. I’ve noticed a lot of cars I rent have the option to enable an eco mode.

As some of you know, I drive a Prius, so I tend to be a bit more conscious when it comes to my fuel consumption. What I found though is that the eco mode setting on a lot of rental cars seems to be disabled by default. So if you’re trying to conserve fuel and lower your consumption, it might be worth enabling the eco mode in your car.

It usually makes the throttle and cooling system a little bit less responsive, but it can help to save money at the pump. And finally, number 10: Carry an emergency kit.

This might seem like overkill, but I think it’s very valuable. I actually use a special case just for this purpose. If I know that I’ll be renting a car, I’ll pack my important documents like a copy of my insurance, along with backup maps in the case. I’ll also throw in a mini flashlight that pulses, pen, tissues, and a basic tire pressure gauge. This makes it easy when dropping off the car too since I have everything in one place, and I’ll even put my chargers and cables in there so I don’t forget them.

We’re actually going to do a review of the travel case that we use, so stay tuned for it. Though I honestly think it’s always a good idea to be prepared especially since you never know when you might encounter a problem while on the road. Do you have any tips for renting a car? If so, please share them below in the comment section.

I’m always curious to hear about other tips and tricks that people use to save money and improve their travel experience.

I’ve included Amazon links in the video description. Trip Astute does get a percentage if you use our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but it does help us to continue building content for this channel. If you enjoyed this video or found it useful, please give us a thumbs up and consider sharing it with others who might also benefit from our content. Until next time, travel safe and travel smart.


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