Wednesday 20 July 2011

Renting a car in the USA is quite cheap until you get all the add-ons

A friend recently rented a car for six days in the USA and the initial charge of $150 (GBP£90) looked very attractive, however the final bill came out in the region of $590 (£370 approx) which is quite a difference.

On analyzing the car hire company’s bill there a “luxury” item Sat Navigation GPS unit costing around $10 a day . For many drivers this is an essential for finding their way about and owners of Sat Navs, it now makes sense to actually bring your personal unit on holiday, provided it is set up for the country you are visiting.

It is very important to check this first as otherwise you arrive at your holiday or business destination, collect the rental car and next you plug the system in. It might not have a US or German road map programme installed so you then have to try and rent one.

The excess insurance was the expensive part over $250 for 6 days (£155 approx) which is a lot of money. You can buy an annual US and Canada policy for around £110 ($177 approx) or a daily one for under £7 ($11). This will save a great deal of money on the rental, but insurance companies advise you must show the policy documents to the car rental agency people before you sign up their paperwork.

Other ad-ons appear to be local state taxes, sales taxes and excess taxes which mount up on a daily basis. There is nothing you can do to reduce this however if the car hire company levies a refueling charge, bring the car back full.

Check the rental agreement to see if you have “free miles” or just a limited number. If they are not going to be sufficient for your needs, find out what additional costs are likely to be.

Do not bring the car back late as you might incur additional rental charges and most important, when you collect the car do check for any damage. If you find any that has not been noted, find a member of staff and get it signed off. This is sometimes difficult to do if you are in a hurry, it is dark or raining or all three at once!

You will find that your hire car will be an automatic transmission. If you are not used to driving one, never driven one you will soon get used to it, but take it carefully. If you normally live in the UK, Ireland, Malta or Cyprus and drive a manual transmission car you will have to get used to driving an automatic car and one on the right hand side of the road.

The road system in the USA is very good, but long distances can be somewhat boring, so take advantage of a cruise control system if your car has one and take regular stops and enjoy the scenery.

I hope my friend takes out car hire excess insurance in advance of renting a car the next time. There are several companies advertising at http://www.insurance4carrental.com/ who offer excess insurance for Canada and the USA and it is a lot cheaper than buying it from the US car rental company.

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