As any hardened business traveller knows, there are certain unavoidable pitfalls to negotiate during those all too familiar work trips. Uncomfortable beds, noisy neighbours and delayed flights are all part and parcel of corporate travel, but perhaps the most dreaded administrative hassle of all is car hire.
Not only is navigating one’s way around unfamiliar streets a fairly hair-raising undertaking, but car rental can also cause plentiful nightmares for travellers and business owners alike, many of whom are slapped with hidden costs and hefty fines simply due to communication breakdowns.
Different rental agencies offer up varied insurance packages and differing fuel charges, in some case charging enormous premiums for those exceeding the daily mileage limit. As such, it’s vital that you’re equipped with all the necessary information before you next get behind the wheel.
So put yourself in the driver’s seat and get familiar with some of our top car rental tips if you want to avoid being taken for a ride:
Read the fine print
Always read the small print – you never know what additional expenses or unusual clauses you might find buried there. Pay particular attention to the parameters of you’re contract, as some agreements void cover should you cross state or country lines, something that can result in significant damages later on. Rental company agreements also usually state that the car should be returned with a full tank, so make sure you stop in at the petrol station before delivering your vehicle back to the lot if you want to avoid being charged a filling fee.
Avoid extended packages
Buying the basic package is the secret to saving you money on car hire. Rentals make their profits by tacking on proverbial bells and whistles, which are usually absurdly expensive and largely unnecessary. So do your homework before speeding off into the sunset, and consider using a specialised procurement broker, so that you’re armed with all the intel you need to ensure you’re appropriately covered without breaking the bank.
Use your own navigation device
If you’re a regular traveller, you’ll be able to save yourself plenty of dollars simply by bringing your own navigation device along, or simply making use of a free app like Google Maps. Rental agencies charge high premiums for the use of their navigation systems, an expense that can add up if you’re out of town often.
Buy your insurance independently
There’s no doubt that insurance is an absolute must-have when you’re renting a car, as the expenses incurred from any form of accident, particularly one involving another vehicle, are seldom less than exorbitant. But before ticking ‘yes’ next to car insurance on the rental form, make sure you’ve checked your own car and/or household insurance first to see what cover you may already have in relation to car rental. You certainly don’t want to be paying for the same thing twice.
Take note of potential damages
Once you arrive at your destination, it can be awfully tempting to jump in your car and hotfoot it to your hotel as quickly as possible. But before you do, it’s vital that you give the car a full once-over. Make doubly sure that any existing bumps or scratches on the car are noted by the rental company before you drive away, and snap a few photographs to cover you in the event of any false claims made against you. Once you’ve documented all the damage, make sure you get someone at the rental desk to sign it before you head off.
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