10 Things Not to Do When Renting a Car

There are a number of reasons to rent a car while traveling. You may be going by plane and need a car once you arrive, or you may decide that you want to rent a car instead of putting miles on your own vehicle. Whatever the reason, there are things not to do when renting a car. Let’s take a closer look.

1. Purchase Insurance If You Don’t Need It
The rental agencies are going to push car insurance heavily. Check with your personal insurance company and see if you’re covered when driving rentals. If you are, you can skip the insurance the agency is trying to push.

2. Pay for Fuel at Check-In
It can be convenient to pay for fuel when you pick up your car. However, rental agencies drastically increase the cost of fuel. Don’t settle for this convenience.

3. Drive Away without Inspecting the Car
Never, ever drive away from the rental agency without inspecting the car for damage. Check the car inside and out and make sure everything that’s supposed to work does. This means the power windows, radio, door locks, power seats, seat warmer, etc. If there’s damage, you want to make sure you’re not the one charged for it.

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4. Fail to Ask for Upgrades
Upon arriving to pick up your car, check to see if any upgrades are available. If the agency has a lot of cars on hand, they may upgrade you to a better car at a considerable discount.

5. Drive the Car Across International Borders
You never want to drive a rental car across international borders. Most companies strictly prohibit this. If anything happens to your vehicle, most insurances will not cover the damage.

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6. Pay More Than You Should Base on Age
People who are under the age of 25 are usually charged a fee based on their age. Call different agencies and plead your case. If you’ve been driving without any wrecks on your record, you shouldn’t have to pay that fee.

7. Forget to Ask About Discounts
There are some discounts you may qualify for. There’s military, AARP, AAA, etc. Always ask if there are any discounts available.

8. Check Only the Airport
Don’t limit your options to the airport. There are agencies all over the place. You can also rent cars from car lots. Check all the prices to make sure you’re getting the best offer possible.

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9. Return with an Empty Tank
You have the option to return your rental with an empty tank, but it’s going to cost you. You will have to pay the outrageous fuel prices. Instead, fill up on your way back to the agency.

10. Use the Easy Return Option
Last, but not least, you may be tempted to use the easy return option where you never even see an attendant. This is a huge mistake. You’d want to make sure that the agent looks the car over and sees that there is no damage. If you don’t, you could get hit with unexpected charges when the agency claims there was damage.

The car rental process may seem quick and easy, but don’t let it be so convenient that you pay outrageous fees. Take your time and make sure you are getting the best price as well as deals.

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  • Comments

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    • Stacie

      These are all great tips. Car rental is like any other business. They’re always looking to upcharge, so you have to be super careful.

    • Danielle Smith

      Renting a car, especially if you need one while on vacation, can be a bear. I know some people who have not done some of the things you listed, like giving the car a once-over, and come to find out, there was some damage to the car, that they didn’t cause, and it cost them dearly!

    • Sarah Bailey

      These are some great tips, I have to admit I have never rented a car, and it all seems a bit daunting to me. But it is good to know some things to look out for.

    • Joely Smith

      Wow there is a lot NOT to do when renting a car and I thank you so much for these thoughtful items to consider on your list! Many of them I had no idea about and I love the tip about not paying more if you are under 25! Telling my young adult kids about that!

    • Tara Pittman

      Great tips. Everytime I rent a car they try to sell me the insurance and even try to sneak it in. I always rent online and know what I am paying before I pick up the car.

    • Ice cream n sticky fingers

      Don’t be stupid in the car either. That means no tailgating, pretending your in the indy 500, getting wasted and driving as if I should have to add this, or using the hood/top of vehicle as a surf board(true story according the an Enterprise rental pick up. Supposedly a group of college kids rented a passenger van for spring break and the van came back with roof damage.

    • Melissa Dixon

      I hear ya on the insurance but the idea of being able to drive it off of a cliff without any questions asked makes me want to do it. HaHa I don’t usually splurge on it but if they parked a fancy little car and gave me the keys, I may have to.

    • Marysa

      We haven’t rented a car in a long time, except when we went to Mexico. Of course it is a lot different there, and a little more nerve wracking.

    • Ruth I.

      These tips are helpful! We experienced renting a car once and it was not good. I will make sure to consider these things in the future.

    • Glamamom

      I never ask about discounts! These are such great tips. We’re traveling next month and I will def remember these!

    • Our Family World

      You really listed some awesome tips for renting cars. If I go this route, I always make sure I give the vehicle a thorough inspection. Everything from the interiors to the exterior including the engine. I don’t want to be charged for something that is not my doing.

    • hey sharonoox

      These are helpful tips! Thanks for the good reminders. It’s important to avoid any outrageous fees from rental companies.

    • Kate Andrews

      What a great guide for travelers! I always feel overwhelmed when renting a car so I will be holding on to this list. Thanks!

    • Shahla

      These are such good tips and I have definitely committed some of these faux pas!! Paying for gas with rental company cost me so much more!

    • Lynndee

      We’ve never tried renting a car while on vacation so thank you for these tips because we never know, we might do decide to rent a car on our next vacation.

    • Ada

      These are such great tips! I didn’t know much about rental cars and learned some things from this.

    • Alison Rost

      These are great tips for people who rents cars. I think it’s good to know what to avoid so you can steer clear of the hassle and just travel without dealing with any of these.

    • Heather

      Great advice! Those things that save you time may actually cost you money. Definitely need to be better about reading through contracts and making sure I’m saving where I can.

    • Lisa Marie Heath

      These are excellent points when renting a car! I know for awhile I got the insurance… then found out about 15 car rentals later that my NORMAL insurance covered me for a rental as well. It was pretty much the same exact coverage I had been paying for every time I got a rental

    • Blair Villanueva

      Thanks for these tips! We haven’t experienced renting a car, but we totally need it when we go to EU.

    • Joanna

      I have only got my driving license in February, so in March I rented my first car. The thing that i didn’t like was that they pushed the extra insurance on me, giving me no other option. If I didn’t pay for it I was supposed to leave a 1000 euros deposit and be charged even for a scratch (and you never know who might bump into you in the parking lot). So I went for the extra insurance which was 100 euros but covered everything, including crashes.

    • Oyinkan Ogunleye

      OMg girl I wish you put out this post a few years ago when I was renting cars while being under 25 so I could have saved money.

    • Garf

      These are great tips. Thanks for sharing. Though I am not planning to rent a car anytime soon, these tips need to be kept in mind.

    • angie

      great tips there has been occasions where we did have to rent a car and yes we did not pay for gas like they asked. We did not make all the right choices as we would later learn but learned enough

    • robin rue

      We do pay for fuel and it’s totally worth it to us to pay extra. Sometimes getting to a gas station on the way back to the airport isn’t easy for us, so it’s one less thing to worry about.

    • Alli Smith

      They always try to push that insurance so they can make more money. Our insurance policy covers us so we never buy the insurance from the car rental place. And we always fill up the car with gas before returning it to the agency. Great tips!

    • candy

      We have rented cars before and these are all good points. Never refill the car there at the rental. So much more expensive.

    • Amber Myers

      We booked our rental car through our bank, so we got some awesome deals. We never get their insurance, but we do opt for the gas thing. Normally it’s pretty close to the gas cost, and it’s just easier when you have kids.

    • Tomi C

      So about that time we ACCIDENTALLY ended up in Mexico. OMG, tip #5 Drive the Car Across International Borders really resonated with me because it actually happened to me. This was a long time ago when paper maps were much more reliable than the dashboard GPS.

    • valmg @ Mom Knows It All

      Some of those make good sense. Inspecting before you take it off the lot is a must, as is verifying with your insurance what if any coverage you actually need.

    • Tasheena

      These are awesome tips. I always forget to ask about the upgrades and I try to always fill up the tank a little past of how the vehicle was given to me.

    • Lisa

      These are great tips. I know someone who did the overnight return and just dropped the keys in the dropbox. Next day they billed her insurance for a big dent that wasn’t there when she left it.

    • Jenn

      These are great tips. I haven’t rented a car in so long that I wouldn’t even think of these. Thanks.

    • Karen Morse

      It’s been a long time since we’ve had to rent a car so this is definitely a good checklist to have when we do. I think inspecting the car is really vital especially since it can be used against you when you return it.

    • Ricci

      These are all great tips on renting a car! I always spring for the extra insurance because Im scared of having a wreck in a car that’s not mine!!

    • Sara Welch

      Renting a car is the only way to do it! We do it as much as possible!

    • Kita Bryant

      Renting a car is so much fun. I just got done with a 2018 Fiesat!

    • Heather Stone

      There is a lot to consider when renting a car, more than just picking up the keys and driving away. I have thought about the Easy Return, didn’t do it, but glad to hear I made the right choice. Thank you for the great tips.

    • chubskulit rose

      We always fill the tank when we return a rental car because like what you’ve said, they will charge you an arm and a leg if it’s empty.

    • My Teen Guide

      This post is very helpful. I admit there were times that I was not careful about stuff like these when renting a car. Good thing it only resulted in a minor inconvenience. I will bookmark this page.

    • Danny Newman

      Totally agree it’s crucial to check for damage before you go! So easy to get caught out like this. Great tips!