Avoid expensive car rental pitfalls

Some people tend to always take it on the chin instead of dodging the blow. Keep your eyes open while driving and even before you get in the car. Save yourself time, money and headaches.

Avoid being charged for previous rental car damage

Once you have received the keys to your rental car, check it thoroughly before leaving the car park. You certainly don’t want to get stuck paying for damage to the car that was already there before you got behind the wheel.

Have a rental car representative note any defects to the car, both interior and exterior, on your contract before you drive away. Ask the representative to sign with their name, not initials. This establishes the facts so that you are not liable for the existing damage to the car when you return it.

Having an accident with rental cars

Has your fear of a rental car accident prevented you from renting a car in the past? When you rent a car, you have the option of obtaining the rental company’s collision and damage waiver to protect you in the event of an accident.

If you decide to decline that coverage, make sure you have a credit card that offers car rental coverage in the event of an accident, or that it’s covered by your own auto insurance policy.

If you have an accident while driving a rental car, there are important steps to take to minimize the loss. At the scene of the accident, obtain the driver’s license number and name of each driver involved. Record the date, time and place of the accident. Your insurance agent may have a form for you to do this. Take pictures of everything, including the other drivers. Notify the car rental company as soon as possible.

Give yourself extra time when returning a car that has been in an accident. Rental cars that have been in an accident require accident reports and take longer to return than a normal rental car.

Losing your car rental keys

How many times have you locked the car keys in your car? Have you ever lost your keys and had to use the spare set? Losing the car rental keys doesn’t have to be a catastrophic situation! Before you call the car rental company, get a little creative to see if you can find the missing keys or get in the car yourself.

Your car club (such as AAA) may be able to help. There will be a huge charge if the rental company has to come up with a second set of keys.

Can’t find car in parking lot

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Losing your own car in a large parking lot is not that difficult. Imagine how easy it would be to lose a rental car that you are not very familiar with?

First, don’t panic. Look at the key fob, sometimes rental companies put a label on the key that describes the make and model of the car as well as the license plate number. This can be helpful, but you’ll definitely have fun running up and down the lines checking license plates!

The best way to avoid losing a rental car in a parking lot is to remember where you parked! Before you walk away, write down the location on a piece of paper and put it in your pocket or purse.

A simple description helps, such as “drive directly across from the entrance”, or “next to the phone booth”. Be careful not to place it “next to a particular car”; your neighbor may leave the parking lot before you!