Road trips are some of the most liberating vacations! The wide-open road calls for off-the-beaten-path adventures and endless surprises.
One key to an excellent road trip is to protect against the rental car being one of those surprises.
Rental cars are sometimes the best way to explore cities, states, countries and attractions, such as national parks. But travelers need to what they’re getting into.
Rental cars are, most of the time, not cheap, but there are ways for you to save money. From combining points to knowing if you need additional insurance, here are some tips to help guide you on how to save money on a rental car.
Using Points and Miles
Using rewards points on the most cost-effective and common way to save money on a rental car. Whether you’re cashing in points from your travel rewards credit card or redeeming free nights from a company’s reward program, there are several strategies to help you reap these rewards.
One strategy is to use a credit card that gives you reward points to use for travel expenses. Credit cards like Discover Miles, Capital One Venture Rewards, and Barclaycard Arrival Mastercard are a few examples.
Another perk with some travel credit cards relates to car insurance. With some credit cards, driver’s insurance that covers rental vehicles can be a cardholder benefit. This can help cut down the rental car price, as you might not need to purchase additional insurance from the rental car company.
Another method is redeeming points you have earned through booking with hotels and scheduling flights with airlines.
If you rent a car enough repeatedly from one rental car company, you can accumulate enough rewards points for free rental days, which help offset the overall cost.
Renters can also take advantage of AAA, AARP, military and corporate discount codes to save money on car rentals. Some companies are large enough to have their own discount codes, and employees could save up to 20% on rental cars, which can add up over a weeklong vacation. Check with your company’s HR department to see if your company has a corporate discount.
No Additional Drivers
Not including additional drivers is another way to save money on your rental car. For newbie renters, rental car companies require you to pay extra fees for adding other drivers to your rental agreement. By doing so, the person who was driving the car at the time of an incident is held responsible.
While this trick can save you money, paying for additional drivers can be worth it. If you’re embarking on a weeklong road trip with four other people, sharing the driving load could be a good idea.
Keep an Eye Out for an Upsell
Rental cars come in all shapes and sizes. And some might be nicer than your car at home.
But the rental car company might use that to their advantage. One of the most common reasons people pay too much for rental cars is because the rental car company convinces them to spring for a nicer vehicle.
While some road trips can be even more fun when you rent a Ford Mustang convertible, other vehicle types can be more practical. For instance, SUVs and minivans are excellent choices for a road trip with multiple stops at national parks. And smaller cars are wonderful choices for city vacations as they are easier to park in smaller parking spots.
Keep in mind, some smaller cars might not have cruise control. Check with the rental car company before leaving to make sure your rental vehicle has all the capabilities you need.
Another reason a rental car can be more expensive is when a driver is under the age of 25. Rental car companies might charge an additional fee.
As you set out for your road trip or leave the rental car center on your adventure, make sure you note any damages to the car.
Rental cars can be expensive, but they can transport you to places you could not see. There is no need to pay an exuberant amount for the rental vehicle, but make sure you are getting what you need out of the vehicle for your vacation.