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Rental Cars

Reserving a rental car online can be cheaper and faster than calling an 800 number or standing in line at the airport . However, there are a few things you should know before you surf in search of the best deals.

  1. Rent for the week and do it in advance.

    To get the best rate available, reserve at a weekly rate instead of a daily rate. This is especially important if you're not sure when you'll be returning the car. When in doubt, reserve it longer than you need. You'll never be charged extra for returning it early, but returning it late can be costly. It's also important to reserve your car at least a week in advance to get the best deal. Rates can vary greatly at busy locations. Popular destinations tend to have competitive rates that change frequently. Keep in mind that rental car companies may vary their rates from city to city due to market changes. BreezeNet's Guide to Airport Rental Cars is an excellent guide for popular airport destinations, with special sections for renting cars in California or Florida, as well as a frequently asked questions page and special online discounts and coupons.

    BreezeNet also offers comprehensive information on rental coverages and gas options. Some companies offer "fuel-purchase plans" which don't require you to fill up the gas tank before you return the car. However, these plans often end up costing more. You're better off declining these offers and making sure you fill up the car right before you return it.




  2. Beware of drop-off charges.

    Most companies will charge you a significant drop-off fee for returning your car to a destination other than the one you picked it up from. This fee varies depending on company and location, but it may be as much as $1,000-1,500. Many companies offer special deals for one-way trips. Budget has limited one-way deals offering unlimited mileage and no drop-off charges, but only in certain parts of the country. Avis offers similar deals to more locations. Avis also offers a 20% discount when you reserve online.

  3. Check your car insurance plan before you rent.

    Your personal or corporate insurance plan may cover you in a rental car. Be sure to check into this so you can avoid paying for costly insurance through the rental company. Some credit cards may also offer rental car coverage.

  4. Make sure you're qualified to rent.

    Most rental companies require that you have a credit card in the same name as your valid driver's license in order to rent. Most larger agencies also require you to be at least 25 years old. Some will allow drivers under 25 to rent, but they must pay a surcharge that generally ranges from $5-$20 per day. Alamo has a minimum age of 21 and Dollar Rent A Car also allows those under 25 to rent in many locations. Smaller companies may allow those as young as 18 to rent. Check out BreezeNet's Travelin' Joe's Corner for a special guide to college age car rentals.

  5. Don't drive off in a hurry.

    When you pick up your rental car, be sure to inspect the vehicle for damages before you pull away. It also never hurts to ask for an extra key. Be sure to ask for maps or directions before you leave the agency. For driving directions before you begin your trip, try MapQuest or MapsonUs.

Other ways to reserve a rental car online:

  • Hertz
    Offers 15% off weekly rates when you book online through February 15. Check out their Special Offers.

  • Rentadeal.com
    Save up to 30% on car rentals in the U.S. and beyond.

  • Travelocity.com
    Compare the rates of several agencies at once.

  • Airwise Travel
    Allows you to choose a rental company, car type and pick up and drop off point and reserve a car online.

  • Auto Europe
    Offers discounted car rentals worldwide and in Europe.

  • Priceline.com
    Allows you to name your own price for rental cars.




   --- A.H.

 
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