1. Size matters. Be realistic with the size of vehicle you need. Luggage takes up a lot more room than you think and no one wants to drive with suitcases hanging out of the window, do they?
2. GPS navigation. If you are driving in North America for the first time or to an unfamiliar destination, invest in GPS navigation. Driving in LA for the first time in rush hour? Forget it. Do not try to save money here.
3. Age is just a number. Maybe in most of the areas of life; sadly, however, the car rental industry likes to make under 25’s pay a hefty ‘young driver’s fee’. When searching online for a car to rent, always consider this if you are under 25.
4. Payment. Always use a credit card if you have one, this not only protects you but some North American credit cards also include rental car insurance as a perk. Check those T&Cs.
5. Insure before you go. No really, this is arguably the most important point. By law, rental companies are required to make sure that you have coverage, this is often just to cover your liability up to a set amount. If you had a crash without any real insurance, you are solely responsible for the car you are driving – do not skip the insurance, but be smart. Use a credit card or shop around; for example, in British Columbia, ICBC offer car rental insurance for $10 a day.
6. All inclusive websites. One hidden gem in the world of car rentals is Tripwheels.com. They cover North America and they take the hassle out of renting a car. Their packages cover you for everything that can usually go wrong – check them out.
7. Shop around for coupons. Before you book anything, always google the rental company’s name for coupons. A simple Google search of ‘Example car rental coupons’ may save you some dollar!
8. Pre-inspect the car. There is a sense of excitement when you get into a rental car for the first time, kind of like going into a new hotel room. It is important that you inspect the car thoroughly as some car rental companies can be ruthless. If you see something, take a photo and contact the company before driving away.
9. Return times. Be modest with the return time you choose when you rent a car. Often there are late fees and these can easily be avoided by adding an hour or two on the clock.