5 Tips for a great rental car experience
Prior to blogging I worked as a claims manager for a large rental car company for 10 years. Renting a car can be a great experience or it can be stressful and not so much fun. I want to share with everyone some of my best tips for making your rental car experience positive!
1. Secure your bags and the car
While we were visiting the Everglades last month we saw this convertible rental car with the travelers luggage seat belted in the back seat. Sadly this is a quick way for your vacation to turn ugly. While renting a car make sure that you secure not only your personal items but the car also. As a claims manager I can not even count the number of rental cars that were stolen because customers left the keys in the ignition when they ran into the store, hotel, or their house. They would come out and be really surprised that the rental car was not there.
If you plan on leaving personal items in the car it is best to make sure they are not out in the open or easily seen through the car windows. We lost a set of great binoculars in a rental car years ago while we were in Maui. We hopped out of the car to walk down and look at a beach and completely forgot that the binoculars were on the floor. Sadly the thief who came by the car was able to see them and did not have a problem with breaking the car window with a rock to get to them. We not only lost a great pair of binoculars but we had to visit the car rental agency and fill out a claim form.
2. Take a picture of the license plate
How often have you gone to register for a hotel room and they ask for your license plate. I always have to walk back outside to look at the car and get the license plate. One of the best tips I can tell you is to take a picture of the license plate with your cell phone. That way you have it available when you fill out hotel registration forms. I have also had to refer to my cell phone picture while trying to find the car in a parking trip. On our trip to Florida last month one of the rental cars did not have a security alarm that you could beep to find the car. We had to look up and down the row at all of the matching rental cars until we found the right one. Having the license plate picture helped to make sure we did not set the alarm off on the other blue Impala in the parking lot.
3. Take a picture of where you parked the car
This tip works even when you are driving your personal car. I always try and take a picture of a sign post, number, really anything I can find that designates were I parked. At the end of the day when I leave the amusement park, shopping mall, or the park it is nice to be able to quickly glance at my phone and remember what row I am parked in. This has saved me a lot of time and energy during the holidays when I come out of the mall and can’t remember what row I parked in.
While I was in college I thought my car had been stolen after spending hours in the mall and coming out to the spot I thought the car was and it was not there. I ended up having to ride around the parking lot with the security personnel until we located my car in the next lot. I was so turned around after hours of shopping I really started to panic that my car had been stolen.
4. Know your coverage’s
Knowing your coverage’s before you rent a car can save you money, time, and stress if anything happens to the rental car. Depending on your credit card and or auto insurance you may have coverage that will transfer to a rental car. It is really important to ask questions before you rent a car and make sure that you have the coverage you need. Many states have specific laws on how rental car coverage is handled. Your credit card may have coverage but there can be limits on the types of vehicles, length of rentals, and so much more. The rental car agent is not going to know or be able to walk through your policy with you. I saw way to many claims during the 10 years that I handled rental car damages were the customer thought they had coverages only to find out that their policy did not cover due to a XYZ.
5. Save, Save, Save
If you have plans to rent a car at any time in the near future I highly suggest signing up for the rental companies emails/newsletters. This is a great way to receive savings deals that are only sent to email subscribers. Many companies send out high value discounts to thank you for signing up.
Example – Alamo offers a 10% discount for joining their Alamo Insiders Club
You can also check out Entertainment Books for great deals on rental cars.
I hope these tips help with your next rental car experience. I would love to know what tips you have for renting a car!