With gas prices now averaging $3.27 per gallon in North Alabama, 26 cents lower than the national average of $3.58 per gallon according to www.gaspriceswatch.com; many people are renting vehicles to head for the hills.
If you’re considering navigating the rental car process, take time to read and fully understand the leasing agreement. In 2012, for example, the Better Business Bureau received 3,848 complaints against the auto renting and leasing industry, nationwide.
Many were filed due to billing and contracting issues.
To avoid overspending, your BBB recommends that you:
Shop around. Beware of hidden charges. Several travel websites offer good prices on rental cars. But, before reserving a vehicle at one of these sites, consider checking the rental car websites directly for better rates. Your auto club membership or credit card company may offer special deals for car rentals. Make sure to clarify which taxes, surcharges and other fees you’ll be expected to pay. Many states have additional fees for drivers under age 25 or for multiple drivers.
Opt for a smaller car. If you’re traveling solo and don’t need extra leg room or trunk space, go for the smaller car. A salesperson may try to steer you toward an upgrade for “a few dollars more” because the smaller economy cars are in higher demand. Stick to the smaller car or smile and ask if they’re offering a “free” upgrade.
Make sure you understand where the “unlimited mileage” rates apply. Some rental car companies have restrictions and only apply the mileage to certain states.
Gas up and be on time. Car rental companies will ask if you want to prepay for gas, oftentimes a pricey option. Instead, refill the tank yourself. Be sure to return the car on time or be ready to be charged an extra day for being late.
Bring your own car seat and GPS. If you’re traveling with children or fear that you’ll get lost, bring your own car seat and GPS rather than pay additional rental fees for items you already have.
Do you need to pay for insurance? Before agreeing to pay for insurance on the rented vehicle, check with your insurance agent to see if you are already covered. Even some credit card companies provide limited coverage.