According to the American Automobile Association, gasoline prices have dropped for the 10th week in a row averaging $3.50 a gallon, possibly enticing families to take a final road trip before the school year begins. To ensure consumers hitting the road have a positive car rental experience, Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers tips on renting a car without breaking the bank.
In 2011, BBB received 3,773 complaints nationwide against the auto renting and leasing industry, many a result of billing and contracting issues. While consumers may be excited to get on the road, it is important to take the time to inspect the car and ask questions before signing on the dotted line.
“To avoid surprise charges, consumers should ask what fees will be added to the rental fee," said Matthew Fehling, BBB President/CEO. "Asking for a detailed explanation of the fees and the expectations when returning the car, such as the amount of gas and the latest time to return the car, can save money and headaches."
BBB recommends the following tips to avoid paying more than you have to when renting a car:
● Shop around and look for hidden charges. There are several budget travel sites that provide a good scope of what to expect in terms of pricing. Sometimes, visiting the rental company’s site can get you an even cheaper rate. However, if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t fall for low-ball offers by making sure to clarify which taxes, surcharges and other fees you’ll be expected to pay. Also, take into consideration that many states have additional fees for drivers under 25 years old or for multiple drivers.
● Opt for a smaller car. If you’re traveling solo, or don’t need a lot of leg room or trunk space, go for a smaller car. Often times, the salesperson will steer you in the direction of an upgrade for “only a few extra dollars” because the smaller economy cars are in high demand – just say no, and stick to the smaller car (or smile politely and ask for a free upgrade).
● Ask about mileage limits. Some companies have mileage limits on rental cars. Ask whether “unlimited mileage” rates apply or if there is a mileage limit and what the fee is for exceeding the mileage limit.
● Gas up and be on time. Most of the time, car rental companies will ask if you want to prepay for gas. While it might seem convenient, it is rarely a good deal based on the price of gas. Don’t forget to refill the tank before returning the car, and make sure to return on time. Some rental car companies will charge an extra day for being late, so make sure you know the policy for early and late returns, and call if you get stuck in traffic.
● Bring your own car seat and GPS. If you’re going to be traveling with children or fear that you’ll get lost, make sure to bring your own car seat and GPS. No need to pay for the daily fee for these items if you have them at home.
About BBB Serving Central, Northern & Western Arizona
BBB is an unbiased organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. Incorporated locally in 1938, today your BBB serves communities in Central, Northern and Western Arizona, supported by over 9,600 BBB Accredited Businesses. BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Business ReviewsTM and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust.