When you rent a car, I bet you don’t give much thought into the times you say you’ll pick up and drop off the vehicle. Most people enter in the time their flight is due to arrive and then maybe give themselves an hour, or two, before your flight is due to leave. But what if your flight home is delayed and you know you’re going to be stuck at the airport? You might decide to just show up a bit later. What if you change your arriving flight at the last minute to get on an earlier plane? Those decisions could cost you an entire day worth of rental car charges, if you’re not careful.
You’ve gotten a sweet deal on a rental car (hopefully because you’ve read this article). You’ve figured out how much your toll charges are going to be, and you’re prepared because you know what you need to do about the insurance. You even know how to pay for your rental car by using your debit card. You get to the car rental desk and BOOM, you’re stuck with a daily fee so your spouse or friend can be an extra driver.
What’s up with that? And moreso, is there any way to avoid it? Funny you should ask…
One question we’ve been asked on our Facebook page is how to rent a car using a debit card. While I’m a believer that the best way to get the most from your spending is to use a miles or points earning credit card, there are people who choose to not have or cannot get one of those cards. This post is for them.
Rental car companies like the security of having your credit card in case they need to charge you for not returning the car, damage to the car or anything else they’d like to charge you for once you return the car. If you use a debit card, they’ll often put a large hold on your account that will prevent access to your funds until the hold is removed.
When you rent a car anywhere in the U.S.A., you will always encounter some charges tacked on to the cost of the actual rental. Taxes. Fees. Surcharges. Upcharges. You know what I mean. If you’re going to be on any toll roads during your rental period, you should know ahead of time what the charges will be for tolls, especially if you’re going to be on a toll road that doesn’t take cash (a situation that is happening more and more often). Not following each rental car company’s respective rules for same could potentially gain you extra penalties that could run from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars. Here’s the rundown on what to expect:
I’ve written in the past about how to sign up for frequent flyer programs and hotel programs. With each of those, you earn loyalty points or miles you can redeem in the future for flights or hotel nights. While some car rental companies also run loyalty programs that can earn you free rental days, the reason you should sign up for these programs is because of how much easier they make renting a car.
The thing I hate most about renting a car is the experience at the rental counter. It’s when, after usually waiting in a line, you get to talk to the car rental agent……. and then the sales pitches for an upgraded car, extra features (navigation, satellite radio), pre-paid gas and coverages begin. After denying (or accepting, I’m not one to judge) each one of these, I feel as if I had to make a deal just to rent the car I reserved for the price I agreed to pay. This is where registering for the loyalty program really pays off. You answer all of these questions in advance and certify these choices will apply to all your rentals unless you specify otherwise. Now when you walk to the counter, you simply hand over your drivers license and credit card and sign for the keys, or so they say. It’s easier to rent from some rental companies than others but enrolling in the rental company’s program will always make the process go along with fewer hiccups.
Here are the sign-up links for the major car rental loyalty programs including any perks that are included and if they award loyalty points.