Renting a car can increase your freedom of movement in any trip, whether you are going for business or for pleasure. It’s a lot more desirable than waiting for public transport or having to pay for taxi every time you want to go somewhere. But the hidden cost comes back to bite if you are not aware of them. It pays to be on your toes when picking up and dropping off a rental car, here are some car rental tips you can use to your advantage before renting your next car:

Before Renting A Car

Plan in advance, get in touch with your insurance company, and ask what coverage your auto insurer already provides, your goal is not to pay for the insurance you already have.

When Picking Up A Rental Car

Ask for a copy of the contract, if it is not provided, to figure out exactly what you owe the rental car company. You should do this because the desk clerk can flexibly charge for additions you may have selected.

Quiz the desk clerk for details such as:

    • Length of the grace period for drop offs.
    • To use anything you can’t figure out
    • Type of fuel the car uses (diesel vs. unleaded)

Rental car companies’ offers collision damage waiver also called a loss damage waiver. That may already be covered by your insurer or credit card. The CDW has a daily rate that can stack up to an outrageous amount, so make sure you are not paying for coverage you already have.

Do not buy a full tank of gas from the desk. Rental car companies charge double the local going rate to provide a full tank of gas. If you do opt for the full tank of gas, refill the tank at a local gas pump when returning the car.


When picking up your car, it’s wise to check it in and out for anything that might be considered damage. Look for dents, noticeable scratches, electrical functions, cracked windows, and loose parts before driving away.

While staying diligent to any problem no matter how small, it’s better to make a note of it. The best way to do so is to take a slow walk around the car while recording a video – this is your best protection.

Bring your own GPS. If you need to use GPS, your Smartphone is well equipped to do the job. The rental car companies charge a per day rate just like the CDW charge. Opt for this and any other add-ons and you will end up paying a week’s fee for a 2 day rental.

When Returning A Rented Car

Be sure to drop the car on time or you will be charged an extra days rent, company policies are quite strict regarding such matters.

If you had purchased the tank of gas from the desk, be sure to fill the tank up before returning the car, or you will be charged the rental car company rate, which is double.

Make sure you take the time to take pictures of the rented car. Take a picture of the insides of the trunk as well. Make a video with slow walk around the car again because the attendant might not check the car or be present when you return it. What happens is that they charge you for the damage they notice later. When your credit card bill shows up, they might have charged you for something you might not have even done. This happened to an acquaintance of mine, he got a bill for a ceased engine, which got covered by his insurance, but the company charged him for the 7 days their car was out of service. If you are careful, you can prevent something like that from happening to you.