Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Car Rental Lowest Rates Vs. A Good Bargain (by Amit Laufer)

Many people approach Car Rental as a lowest-price-possible contest rather than to concentrate on the value of the deal they eventually would get, in terms of what type of car, what’s included (air conditioning, automatic gear shift etc’) as well as what type of service they are buying.

The thing is, Car Rental market is very competitive one and rates differences for comparable quality and service are relatively small, sometimes as small as $10 to $20. These minuet price differences are going to vanish in the wind when you consider the long lines and lost time at the cheapest renter counter, drop charges for remote destinations, late return fines, and gasoline inflated rates as well as other service charges you didn’t think about when you shopped for the “best deal”.

Don’t get us wrong, we don’t like to pay higher prices more than you do. We do recommend to shop around and check the various rates available, especially when it’s so easy to do it via the Internet at comparison sites.

All we say here you need to consider other things beside the price and when you compare please make sure you compare apples to apples and not apples to pears.

Things to consider when ordering a rented a car

Who is using the car, are you by yourself on a business trip or you are traveling with the whole family? How much luggage are you going to have, does the car you are thinking about is big enough to have you all plus all your hand luggage and big suitcases? If not, consider to change to a mini van or a car with extra large trunk.

Do you need an Infant seat or a child booster? make sure it is mentioned clearly with your order, usually there is a shortage of these seats and they are provided for extra charge. Check the state laws for where you are traveling.
A new law in Denver for instance, requires Booster Seats for all 4 and 5 year olds who are not 55 inches tall.

Do you actually need the car in the town or city at the first few days? If not, consider to take a taxi, a bus, a train or the hotel shuttle into the city and when it’s time for you to go out of town and travel around, then, rent the car from the city location and by that save up to 15% on Air-Port charges as well as on city parking fees.

Are you going to a very warm and humid destination? If yes, it’s recommended to order a car with air conditioning, usually the price difference is negligible, the problem is that it’s not available in all destinations like in some European countries.

Most major rental car companies allow for unlimited mileage in the same state, but it's a good idea to check their policy before confirming. Many smaller local independent companies charge mileage after 100-200 free miles per day.

As mentioned before price is not the only factor to consider when choosing a car rental company. If you choose a very small, no-name company, don’t expect them to provide you with service across all nation or continent, what would you do if the car is needed to be replaced or serviced for some reason?

Frequent or Preferred Renter Programs and affiliations

Frequent renter programs, Like airlines and hotels, major car rental companies track their customers’ rental histories and offer preferential service to loyal customers. Most of the major companies offer frequent renter programs that are similar to airline frequent-flyer programs and hotel frequent-guest programs.

Preferred renter clubs, Most major car rental companies also offer preferred renter programs or clubs (one example is the Hertz #1 Club). When you belong to one of these clubs, you get preferential treatment, including automatic upgrades when those cars are available. You can join these programs at any time, even if you are a first-time renter with that company.

While basic-level club memberships are often free, higher-level memberships (as in the Hertz #1 Gold Club, which allows you to bypass the rental counter) generally come with a price tag. What most people don’t realize is that it’s often possible to avoid the membership fee by simply writing or calling your car rental company and asking them to waive it. They will do it because the car rental industry is very competitive, and they want your business

If you're still faced with a steep rate, try getting discounts based on your affiliations with organizations like AARP, AAA or others. These discounts are usually not great, but they are better than nothing.

In addition, always check for corporate rates if applicable to your situation.

Car Rental Insurance

Some of the Insurance terms seem to be confusing, let’s try to clear them out first.

CDW - Collision Damage Waiver.

LDW - Loss Damage Waiver.

PDW - Physical Damage Waiver.

PAI - Personal Accident Insurance.

PEC - Personal Effects Coverage.

ALI - Additional Liability Insurance.

Many of the Credit Cards have most of these coverage, therefore it’s not mandatory to purchase excessive coverage. It’s better to check this issue with your travel agent, insurance agent and your credit card company a head of time. Some Car rental companies require that you show proof of insurance.

Also be aware that your personal insurance probably doesn’t apply to your rental car when traveling overseas. All this is somewhat complicated and at times confusing because there are no industry standards for terminology and policies vary by locations.

Important things to check and do before leaving the Air-Port

After a long flight and the waiting in lines for your luggage and afterwards for your keys at the car rental counter, it is understandable you just want to take the rented car and drive away to your hotel, but wait! Here is a list of things you must check first.

Start by making a careful check around the car, look for any small dents or scratches, in case you find some, don’t be lazy, go back to the office and ask a representative of the rental company to write down all of these dents, ask for a copy of that report. Other wise you might be responsible for damages you didn’t perform.

Open the trunk, make sure you have a spare tire, a jack and set of tools, there is noting more irritating than to find out in the middle of nowhere that you don’t have a jack when you need to replace a flat tire.

Many car companies will provide you with an extra key if you ask for one. This can come in handy for some of us who are absent minded.

It is recommended to spend some time to get acquainted with the cars’ features and switches, make sure you know where the lights switches are, how to operate the windshield wipers, the air conditioner and even set your favorite radio stations as well as set your side mirrors. It might be quiet frustrating to fight with the new switches while driving, when all of a sudden it starts raining.

Make sure you have a map and it’s better to spend few more minutes and plan your driving route.

Last but certainly not least, If you have a lot of luggage, don’t park the car in the parking lot and go for lunch, in many countries, this is an easy target for
the thieves, It’s better to buy some sandwiches and beverages in the air-port, or stop somewhere along the way for refreshing but never leave the car unattended.

In case you are involved in a Car Accident

These are the most important pieces of information to collect from the involved parties: full name, mailing address, telephone number, insurance details, and drivers’ license number.

Also try to get the names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident. Make a note of the vehicle’s make, color, brand and license plate number.

Try to pinpoint the exact time and location of the accident. If the police get involved, ensure that you receive a copy of their report. Don't forget to inform your insurance agent immediately and notify the car rental company.
They will let you know about their accident procedure.

If you purchased insurance through the car rental company, they will have to make the claim. If there is damage to the rental car, there will be much paper work to complete

Make sure any involved parties are ok. Any injuries should be taken care of ASAP.

Call the police and/or ambulance (if necessary), and then call the car rental agency. Be as cooperative as possible. The car rental agency will have its own policies regarding accidents.

Exchange information with the affected parties.
Try to record everything on the scene. Your notes should include details of the accident, identification of the autos and people involved, and the names and badge numbers of all emergency personnel.

Take pictures if possible. If you are on vacation, you will probably have a camera handy already.

File an accident report with the police, and report the claim to your own credit card company or insurance company.

When returning the Car

Make all necessary arrangements to return the car on time, that includes looking the location in the map especially if you return the car in a foreign city.

Late return charges are high and arbitrary, secondly, if you are late, you probably won’t have the time to fill the car with gasoline yourself and the rental company will charge you exorbitant inflated gasoline rates.

In case you return the car in a city location on Sunday, it might be that the station will be deserted, it will let you in via automated gate, make sure to take the card and leave it over the dashboard, this is your recorded time of arrival.

In addition, lock the car, take the keys plus your rental contract and insert them into the designated box.
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MBA - International Trade & Finance - Heriot-Watt University. Bsc. Computers and Information Systems - Long Island University - C.W Post Campus. Hobby: Photography & Cars. Married with two Children.

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What You Should Know About Thrifty Car Rental (by Christopher Luck)

What should you know about Thrifty Car Rental before you use them to get your next rental? I always like to know a little about a company before I use them. When it comes to car rentals, I have always enjoyed Thrifty Car Rental as far as a provider. However, before you use them for your next rental; it might be nice if you knew a little bit about the company and what they do. Knowing more about them might make you just that much more comfortable with using them for your car rental needs.
Thrifty Car Rental bills itself as a value-oriented car rental company that is available both in airports and in local car rental markets. The big difference between Thrifty Car Rental and their major competitors is that Thrifty’s competitors focus almost exclusively on the airport market. In the U.S., roughly 66% of Thrifty Car Rental’s business is in the airport market, 34% is in the local market.
As part of their airport market service, Thrifty Car Rental operates "in terminal" in every major airport in both Canada and Australia, and in 85 major airport locations in the United States, with the rest of its airport rental centers off of but near the airport grounds. Thrifty Car Rental is also located in-terminal in almost every major city in the Caribbean, and Central and South America where Thrifty has a solid presence. Thrifty Car Rental also has locations throughout the Middle East. Thrifty Truck Rental is an ancillary business and has a large number of locations as well.
Historically, Thrifty Car Rental and other departments have used a strategy to become a major global brand; In 2002, though, the company elected to shift to operating some of their major U.S. markets through the corporation. Now, more than 80% of the retail locations in North America are franchised (and over 90% around the world are), owned by independent businesses that are licensed to use Thrifty’s name, systems and technologies. Each such location must maintain certain strict standards in facilities and their service. From their corporate headquarters, Thrifty centralizes travel agent commission payments and operates from its headquarters travel agent and consumer inquiry departments, each with toll free numbers.

As you can see, Thrifty Car Rental is a well put together and historically reliable company. If you are anything like me, you probably feel more comfortable with a company once you know a little more about them overall. Thrifty Car Rental has always been a good company for getting you a car at a good price. You can find them in town or at the airport and that makes them convenient as well.

So for your next vacation or business trip, go ahead and give Thrifty Car Rental a shot. You will be glad you did.

If you would like to view more of my articles on car rental, please feel free to visit my car rental guide website!

Car Rental in Spain is Mainly Not the Same (by Albert Medinas)

In a nation like the United States, where icons like McDonald’s and Wal-Mart have spoiled us into thinking we can go anywhere we like and still get a quarter pounder with cheese - or find people wearing blue smocks - it can be easy to think that the world is all the same. Even the car rental game seems the same, because we can get off at any airport and choose between compact, mid-size, or full-size, and generally get what we want and expect. While we may not want to admit it, the rest of the world just does not operate according to our way of thinking.

Getting a car rental in Spain, for instance, may not be difficult, but it certainly is not the same as securing one in Cleveland. There are some subtle differences between a car rental agency in Europe and one in America. If you plan on traveling abroad, don’t expect everything to be exactly the same.

So what can I expect when I want a car rental in Spain?

For one thing, don’t expect a great selection of vehicles with automatic transmissions or air conditioning. A car rental place in Spain, or elsewhere in Europe, will usually have only a limited selection of vehicles with these customary American options. Plus, while a car rental place in the United States will charge you an insane fee for not filling the fuel tank before returning, this pales by comparison to what may happen in Europe. Not only will you pay a steeper price for returning to the car rental company on “E”, but you will have to pay for gas by the liter - and the cost could break the bank for you.

In fact, because of the steep gasoline prices in Europe, you may want to ask the car rental agency for a diesel-powered car, as this will be easier on your budget. This may not measure up the exotic dreams you had for your time in Europe, but your wallet will thank you for making the more conservative choice at the car rental agency.

Will I have problems actually renting a car?

That depends on what you mean. Some nations require an international driving license, and the car rental agencies in these countries are required to ask this of anyone renting a car. To be on the safe side, you might want to go to a place like the American Automobile Association to avoid an embarrassing scene at the car rental place in Spain. It’s up to you, of course, but “better safe than sorry” is a good way to go here.

Now, because Europe is such a popular tourist destination in the summer, you might be very disappointed when the car rental agent in Spain shakes her head and tells you that nothing is available. It is best to reserve your vehicle as far in advance as possible, especially if you hope to have any luck at the car rental places during the peak periods.

What else should I know?

While not necessary, you may want to opt for the insurance at the car rental place. The reason? Europeans are known to be more aggressive drivers than their American counterparts. This is not to say that they are worse drivers, but their aggressive maneuvers may take you off guard. And you don’t want to return to the car rental agency and have them charge your insurance company for your European driving lesson, do you? I didn’t think so.

So take these guidelines into account when securing a car rental in Europe, and they will provide for a much more enjoyable and hassle-free experience. And when you get there, say “Hi” to the Eiffel Tower for me.

Albert Medinas has developed and maintains the website Car Rental Central, which answers the most common questions travelers have about Car Rental. Please visit us at today.