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Car Rental Process

1.

Determine your vehicle needs. Nearly every type of vehicle can be rented, but knowing exactly what you need will save you time and money. A family of four traveling for a week probably shouldn't rent a sports car. What type of vehicle you rent will also determine how much you pay per day, with larger vehicles typically costing more than compact ones.

2.

Shop for options. Depending on the rental company and one's travel plans, rental rates can vary. Most companies charge in one of four ways: a daily rate plus a charge per mile; a daily rate that includes some free miles per day; a daily rate with unlimited mileage; and a rate that has free mileage if the vehicle is rented for an extended period of time. Using the Internet to compare rates ahead of time will save you money.

3.

Consider other costs. Taxes will be charged and added to the bill. Taxes vary by state and can be up to 30 percent for international rentals. Be sure to call ahead and ask what tax rate will be charged. An extra fee is often charged if a vehicle is dropped off at a different location than it was rented at. Another cost to consider is gasoline. Most companies give you a full tank of gas when you rent the car and expect the car to be returned with a full tank or they will charge you extra.

4.

Evaluate your insurance coverage. When you rent a vehicle, you are driving something that is not yours but is worth tens of thousands of dollars. There are lots of insurance options that the companies will try to sell you, so it's best to know ahead of time what your personal insurance policy covers and what it doesn't.

5.

Inspect the vehicle before signing the paperwork. You will be responsible for anything that happens to the vehicle, so be sure to inspect the vehicle with the salesperson, and look for dings, defects or other damage. The salesperson should make notes of all the preexisting damages so that you will not be held responsible.

6.

Drive safely. Driving a new vehicle takes more concentration because everything from the brakes to the steering is different than the car you are used to driving. Adjust all mirrors and make sure you know where all the controls are prior to driving.

Tips and Warnings

  • Use the Internet to book the rental vehicle at least a week in advance to save money.
  • Call the rental company and ask if there are any special promotions or discounts available.
  • Most car rental companies require that the renter be over 25 years old.
  • Don't be late in returning the vehicle. Most companies will charge a whole extra day if the vehicle is even an hour late.

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