Buyer beware: The rate you see advertised in big print may become so inflated with state and local taxes, airport surcharges, additional driver fees, insurance, gasoline bills and drop-off charges that you end up paying more than double what you expected. Learn more about these extra charges in Car Rental Hidden Costs.
Also, the advertised rate may be valid only during the off season or for a car size that you would find unsuitable.
In recent years, the major booking engines have become more transparent about rental car rates, and they now usually show you the total cost of your rental, including estimated taxes and fees, early on in the booking process.
If you can, pick up your rental downtown instead of at the airport.
This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but in general, rental rates at airports are more expensive than rates a little bit further away. Try looking for rates from pick-up spots closer to your hotel, or even in the city center.
Make sure to always compare those to rates from airport agencies, though – sometimes, the price difference will be negligible, or the airport might even be cheaper. Also remember that you’ll need to arrange transportation to the rental agency, whether you can take a hotel shuttle, or you have to pay for mass transit or a taxi into the city. Extra info about car hire in Cuba
Don’t Get a GPS
Car rental companies absolutely love it when you add a GPS onto your rental for an extra $10-$15 a day. Avoid this charge by using your smartphone for navigation. We download offline maps of whole countries to Google Maps. This gives us turn by turn direction even when we don’t have WiFi or data signal. Make sure to pick up a phone cradle for the drive that way you have distraction-free driving.
We’ve also used Maps.me to get us across, Africa. Back in the day before smartphones I even bought a new GPS for a two-week car rental in Australia, which turned out to be cheaper than what the rental company was going to charge.
Ask for discounts.
Your first question at the rental counter should be: “Do you offer any discounts?” Whether Military, AAA, senior, corporate or otherwise, many associations get price breaks from car rental companies, and all you have to do is ask. In many cases, mentioning your frequent flyer membership can help you ear miles on your car rental. For example, United Milage Plus members earn 75 miles per day on Hertz rentals, and elite members earn an additional 50 miles per rental day, which means you could easily earn up to 500 extra frequent flyer miles for just a four day rental! More details on rent a car in Dublin
When you book your rental car, the deal will come with a specific fuel policy. For example, the most common is ‘Full to Full’, which means you refill the tank before you take the car back. Another is ‘Full to Empty’, which means you pay for a tank of fuel at the counter and can return your car as empty as you like.
When you arrive to pick up your car, the rental counter staff may offer you a different fuel policy. If you’re booking your car on the spot, you’ll be offered different fuel policies to choose from.
Tips for avoiding fuel policy trickery
Fuel policies each have their pros and cons, but in general, Full to Full is a fair policy. So if you have that, there may not be any benefit to changing it.
If you booked online, check your car’s fuel policy before you get to the counter. That way you’ll be confident whether or not it’s right for you.