Tuesday, 7 July 2015

How Discount Car Rental Helps You Save Money on Your Next Vacation?

Planning your next vacation?
You must have big plans – engaging in outdoor sports, going around sight-seeing and treating your taste buds with local exotic cuisines. Bookings are important before you even start packing bags. Booking plane tickets, hotel bookings, etc are an essential part of your travelling program. One other important aspect is considering discount car rentals. Renting a car means more flexibility and mobility while you are travelling. In some countries that is the only way you can go around doing things that you want. Finding the right vehicle that suits your travelling is necessary to make your trip successful.

Though car rentals are essential, they can make your trip complicated. Finding the right discount car rental, getting the right insurance and most importantly getting the best deals, can make your travel planning more daunting. In most cases, people end up paying more than what they actually should have. Studies show that more than half of the population, who hire a car end up paying more.

This is the reason why the number of legal suits complaining about the car rentals is on a rise. The rates would depend on the type of car you hire and the number of days you hire. One way to save yourself from paying more is to get deals from third parties. These often save you hundreds of dollars, which you can use for other expenses on your trip or save it for future endeavours.

Before you start planning for your vacation, you need to know that there are more pitfalls and traps associated with discount car rentals than you can think of. You have to be very cautious when hiring a car and even more alert when choosing a car rental company such as compare the rates, buy the right kind of insurance policy and read the fine lines before signing a contract.

To help you avoid pitfalls and choose the right kind of discount car rentals, we’ll get into the details of hiring a vehicle. Car rentals are not just for vacations, there are more occasions when you’ll need to hire a car.

Occasions that Calls for Car Rentals
Vacations don’t only mean planning a get-away with your family. You may have to attend a wedding event in a different country. Along with enjoying the wedding you might want to explore the new land that was unknown to you till now. Vacation can also mean taking your girlfriend on a surprise trip this Christmas. Chocolates and flowers are old day tricks; if you really want to surprise your spouse, think of hiring a luxury car and escaping together for a long drive. A convertible would be perfect for such a situation!

Car Rentals can Make Your Day Special!
Luxury car rentals are an amazing way to make an occasion special. If you want to have a destination wedding, you’ll have guests coming from all around the world. To make them feel special and see that they are comfortable while travelling to and fro, you can hire discount car rentals. Your guests might also want to go around the city, so a car rental service can help you with arranging round the city tours.

Not only do car rentals make your travelling easy, they make a style statement. Think of arriving in a limousine on your wedding day or think you are on honeymoon and you hire a convertible car to drop you to your destination. Luxury car rentals may sound expensive, but many companies providing luxury cars on rent, offer great deals. Booking cars through third parties save you a lot, since their businesses thrive on customers and to retain them they may be agreeing to negotiate the rates.

Many car rental companies provide luxury cars for organizing parties. These cars have all kinds of amenities like a drinks counter, a snacks bar and are large enough to accommodate all the people. So if you are planning to organize a poolside bachelorette party with your friends, think again. You can make the day more special by hiring a car and partying in it while you go around the city.

This will not only make the event memorable, but it is a safe option since you don’t have to worry about driving home drunk. The chauffeur would pick you up from the destination and make sure you get back home safely. All the drivers and chauffeurs are trained and licensed so you don’t have to worry about the security issues.

The type of car you need to hire would depend on the occasion and the number of people you need to accommodate. If you want to hire a car for your honeymoon, you’ll need a small car, but if you hire it for your guests, you’ll need a bigger one, so that it can accommodate many people at a time. Car rental companies mostly have cars of various sizes, types and brands, so you can hire the one that suits all your needs.

The type of cars available with the car rental companies are covered in the following section.

Types of Car Available with Car Rentals

The best part about discount car rentals is that you can choose the style and model of the car you want to. Car rates vary depending upon the size and brand, but you can afford that much to make a day memorable. The car rental companies have a huge fleet of cars that belong to various classes (SUVs, luxury, fuel-efficient, etc), type and size, to suit all budgets and space requirements. Some companies deal with specialized vehicles and are dedicated to one type of vehicle. So if you are looking for vintage cars, you have to find car rental companies who deal with vintage cars.

Since the options are overwhelming, make sure you know what you are hiring before signing the contract. Rental companies use various standards to indicate the size and type of cars they are providing. So a small car at one car rental might be referred to as a mid-sized car at another.

Classification of Rental Cars

Small Cars: To indicate a small rental car, the companies would use terms like compact, economy, sub-compact or small cars. These are generally suitable to accommodate four to five people and their luggage. Some of the small car models have four doors while others would have two doors. These have the cheapest rates and offer great fuel mileage. The facilities offered by small cars include:

• Air conditioning
• Dual airbags
• Power brakes
• Power mirror
• Front wheel drive
• Power locks
• Power windows
• Automatic transmission
• Safety rear door locks
• Am/FM Stereo
• Rear defroster

Some of the small car models are – Kia Rio, Ford Focus, Chevy Aveo and Hyundai Accent. So if you are planning a vacation with your family, with kids, these cars are ideal for you.

Mid-Size Cars: These are identified as standard, intermediate or midsize cars by various car rental companies. These cars are also ideal for five people, so that they can fit more comfortably. There is more luggage space, but the gas mileage is lesser than small cars. As the car gets bigger, the gas mileage goes down. So if you don’t mind spending a little more on gas, this might be the perfect car for you.

Facilities provided by mid-sized cars include:
• Air conditioning
• Cruise control
• Remote keyless entry
• Dual airbag protection
• Front wheel drive
• Power mirror
• Power windows
• Anti-lock brakes
• Automatic transmission
• Power steering
• Anti-theft system
• AM/FM stereo and/or CD Player
• Power driver seat
• Tilt steering wheel
• Rear defroster
In this category you’ll find cars like Dodge Avenger, Nissan Altima Coupe, Ford Fusion, etc.

Full Size Cars: Full sized cars have the maximum passenger capacity and maximum storage space. These are four door sedans with lot of features. The facilities provided by the large or full sized cars include:

• Remote keyless entry
• Anti theft system
• Power locks
• Climate control
• Rear defroster
• Armrest
• Dual airbag protection
• Automatic transmission
• AM/FM stereo
• Power brakes
• Cruise control
• Automatic overdrive
• Cruise control
• Power windows
• Power mirrors
• Power steering
• Tilt steering wheel
• Safety rear door locks
• Powerful V8 engine
• Leather interior
• Cassette and CD player
• Map lights
• Traction control

In this class you’ll find cars like Nissan Altima, Chevy Impala, Dodge Charger, Ford Edge, etc. These offer high-performance driving experience and luxury. If your group is large enough, you might have to hire a full size car. This is ideal for weddings and families of more than five people.

Premium or Luxury Cars: These categories of cars are for those who want to hit the road in style. Ideal for the bride or bridegroom to arrive at the wedding venue or suitable for corporate events, where you have to receive guests of honour. Space, passenger capacity and gas efficiency varies depending upon the model of car.

Facilities offered include:
• Power window
• Power mirror
• Automatic transmission
• Cassette and CD player
• Cruise control
• Armrests
• Power brakes
• Tilt steering wheels
• Front wheel drive
• Automatic override
• Dual bag protection and much more

This category of cars includes models like Lincoln Towncar, Ford Crown Victoria, BMW, Ford Mustang Coupe, Mini Cooper, etc.

SUVs, Vans and Pickups: These cars are ideal for those who would travel over rugged terrains and carry a lot of loads. This category of cars also offers large passenger space, but the gas efficiency is poor compared to any small car. Car rental companies have varieties of vans and pick-ups, so you can choose the one that suits your needs. You can also get regular and luxury SUVs.

Dodge Grand Caravan, GMC Yukon, Jeep Wrangler, Ford F-150, etc are models that can be found in this category of cars.

Electric and Hybrid Cars: Environmental friendly cars are becoming very popular since people have started caring about the environment deeply. The electric and hybrid cars offer great fuel mileage and have lower carbon footprint, which means less harm to the environment. Cars included in this category are Honda Compressed Natural Gas Car, Jetta TDI Clean Diesel, Nissan Leaf EV and Hybrid Sedan.

There is more you can get at discount car rentals. Exotic cars are available for those who want to make a big style statement. If you can be a little lenient with your budget, you can hire world class sports cars like the Porsche Boxster or a classier car like Lamborghini, Audi TT Convertible, Ferrari, etc. The choices are never ending. If you want to hire an exotic car, your rental agency might do a background check or want to see the proof of insurance to make sure their vehicle is in safe hands. Some agencies might also want some security deposit for safety purposes.

Tips to Save on Car Rentals

With the onset of summer, vacation season is on its peak. People would be busy making travel plans, researching for the best accommodation options and try to find deals that would save them quite some money. When it comes to car rentals, which is one essential aspect of your travel plan, be careful about the low-advertised-price scam that many people fall prey to.

Most of the discount car rentals advertise rates excluding the extras charges. If you are renting a car from an agency, you might have to pay local taxes, surcharges, for some local civic improvements, etc. Apart from these you’ll have to pay for gas, baby seats, navigation system, toll transponder, etc, so the advertised rate goes up to the sky. Renting a car at the airport might suck up a lot of extra bucks. If you’re under 25 you may have to face enough tougher situations. You either have to pay higher or won’t be able to rent at all.
Car rental agencies also tend to hike the car rents during peak seasons. So if you are planning to go on a vacation this summer, you may find the car rental rates much higher than what they used to be. Preparing yourself ahead of time can save you from the dangers of paying a huge bill that you are not prepared for. 

The following tips will help you prepare yourself well ahead of time and save a lot of money as well.
• Research Online: When it comes to renting a car, it is best to shop online. There are a number of travel sites or dedicated car rental sites that have rates listed corresponding to each vehicle. List down the rates from various agencies for the vehicle you want to hire and compare. Many sites have the option of pre-paying for your booking. Pre-paying can get you great discount deals, but make sure you check the cancellation policies, in case you have to postpone or cancel your trip. You don’t want to lose money in case there are changes in your plan, so this is very essential.

• Avoid Big Brands: Avoid the big brands as much as possible and stick to the local car agencies. In most cases you’ll find the same cars with the local car rentals, as with the big brands but they are a lot cheaper. Cars from local agencies can cost 15 to 30% lesser than the reputed ones. Another advantage of local car rental agencies is that, you can find them on car rental websites, which offer great deals. In order to boost branding, the lesser known brands often give out discounts. If you get an economy class car for $50 from a reputed brand, you might be lucky to get a Mercedes C-class at $30 with a less reputed brand. So you know you get a lot more for the money you spend with less reputed car rentals.

• Search for Discount Coupons and Codes: Various travel portals and sites like CouponWinner.com offer discount coupons that you can redeem at the car rentals. You can search the Internet for the rental company name and discount coupons and see if you’re lucky. If you’re a frequent flier or member, you may get special discount coupons. Many rental companies will also allow you to combine discount coupons with coupon codes, so you save a lot. Special discounts are offered on special days, so you might get heavy discounts if you’re hiring a car on Memorial Day. Make sure you check out all the options before you hire a car.

• Look for Weekend Rates: Some car rental companies would charge minimum on weekends. These may be as low as 50% of the weekly rates. So if possible plan your vacation so that you can hire the car on a weekend. Check out the packages offered by the discount car rentals. Weekly packages can be cheaper than renting a car for 5 days, where you have to pay the daily rent multiplied by 5. Crunch the numbers carefully, to make the most out of your car rental.

• Avoid Renting at the Airport: Avoid renting a car at the airport since it can add 30 percent to 50 percent extra on the total amount. If you rent from off-airport location, you can avoid the airport concession fees. Renting a car from the downtown may be a bit inconvenient but if you can reach the location via taxi, bus route or any public transport, you can save a lot of money on your entire trip. You save the airport concession fees and get a car at a cheaper rate, so you get the best deal.

• Frequent Flier Programs and Credit Card Benefits: Participating in frequent flier programs and using credit cards while you’re on a vacation proves beneficial. You’ll get extra insurance coverage, additional discounts and you can add miles to your credit card by renting a car. So you not only save on your present trip but collect enough miles to be redeemed on your next trip. Planning ahead can save you a lot of time and money. So make sure you plan ahead of time.

• Negotiate the Rates: Even if you know you got the best rates, it’s never a bad idea to negotiate. If you don’t ask, you don’t get it, so talk to the representative and see if it does any good. It may so happen that the discount car rental has been having low business over the months and to retain the customer, it agrees to negotiate the rates. Many companies may also offer you less popular, bigger cars at the cost of compact or small cars – but that depends on the person’s mood and the availability of the car. So try your luck, you might get lucky!

• Check the Insurance Coverage before Signing: While you hire cars from a discount car rentals, you may be asked to sign insurance like CDW (Collision Damage Waiver), Personal Effects Coverage, etc, but it is recommended to check your existing insurance whether you are already covered. Signing insurance can add $20 to $40 per day on your ride, so check before you go ahead. If you have no way out, you can choose the CDW but nothing more. If you have booked a car using your credit card, chances are they cover rental-car insurance, so make sure you check with your credit card company as well.

(Note: If you see minor damages, stains or dents on the car before you hire, take pictures so that you can show them if the owner ever claims it was because of you. This will save you from paying extra bucks, just in case.)

• Sneaky Fees: The car rentals are ready to rip you off if you give them a chance. A few precautions beforehand can save you from rip off. Make sure you top up the fuel tank before returning the vehicle, if you don’t you may have to pay 2 to 3 times the actual price of fuel. If you’re running behind time, call the car rental company to know whether the late fees would be cheaper or adding a few hours would be cheaper. Then decide accordingly. Before you drive the car check the additional fees charged for child seat, GPS systems and electronic toll collection systems. If possible carry these things with you, so that you can save on the additional charges.

• Choose a Car Wisely: If you really want to save on your car rental, choose a car as per your needs and avoid show-offs. If you’re on a business trip, you’ll need a car for transportation to the hotel, office, meeting and airport, so a compact car would be enough. If you’re on a vacation with kids, an SUV or Van would be fine. Consider the purpose and utility of the car you would be hiring. Though if you are on honeymoon and want to sweep your lady off her feet, you may want to spend some extra bucks!
Planning ahead can save you from a lot of bad situations, so educate yourself and keep away from sneaky situations. In the next section, we’ll talk about the car rental traps and ways to avoid them and help you save even more.

Car Rental Rip-Offs - Traps to Avoid

Car rentals are not just for the higher class people or those on business trips. In today’s world, car rentals are the best way to add mobility to your trip and the easiest way of transportation. With a lot of multinational car rentals and a number of local rental companies working throughout the city or state, it has become easier for people to access car rentals.
If you’re on a vacation and have been travelling by air, it is evident that you’ll feel tired and exhausted by the time you reach a car rental agency and will be in a hurry to reach your ultimate destination. This is the situation when the person sitting behind the counter will try to push in upgrades that you don’t need at all. The agents at car rental counters get commissions based on how much they are able to sell, so it is obvious they’ll get rewarded if they rip you off. Be careful!

The following tips will help you avoid the car rental traps and enjoy your vacation to the fullest.

Get the Basic Packages Only
The car rentals agents will offer you upgrades that are not necessary for your trip but will add huge amounts on your final bill. So the mantra is to get the basic rental packages and if necessary get the specific add-ons that are important.

Check the rates with online agents and also on the personal websites. You may find special offers on the personal websites which take down the rates to bare minimum, even lower than those offered by the agents. Check whether the airlines, which took you to the destination, has collaborations with car rentals. These can offer better value than hiring with an agent.

Read the Fine Prints
It is utterly important for you to understand the terms and conditions of the rental. What if you fall short on any clause? Will you be charged extra for returning the car late? If yes, then how much? Will you be penalised to return the car early? Make sure you have the answers to all your questions before you drive away. Also ensure that all the things included within the price are clearly mentioned on the contract.

Check the Fuel Charges
Most discount car rentals want you to return the car with a full tank. If it’s not so, you can be charged hugely for the missing amount of fuel. Many companies would ask for the fuel receipts, if you fail to produce them you might be charged extra. Many companies offer a 'tank full' policy, where you prepay for a full tank. Though returning a car with an empty tank is impossible, you save on the inflated rates that are charged if the tank is not full. Make sure you read the fine prints before signing the contract.

Carry Your Own Satnav Systems and Child Seats
Hiring satnav (satellite navigation) systems cost you a lot and is purely waste of money. Satnav systems available in the market cover entire UK and Europe, so this would be a cost-effective solution. Child seats are even more expensive. Many airlines allow you to carry child seats for free, so if it is so make sure you carry one for your child. Car rentals tend to charge hugely for child seats.

Check Hidden Costs
The fine prints hide most of the hidden and additional charges. In many countries you would be charged extra if you own a driver’s license for less than 4years. Drivers between 21 to 24 years of age have to pay ‘young' surcharge, to be able to rent a car. Having a second driver, adding gadgets to your car, etc can add extra charges to your bill.
Take out time to read the contract carefully and ask questions whenever something sounds fishy.

Choose the Right Engine
You may rarely have the chance to choose a specific models or engines when hiring from a rental agency. If you are given a car that has a petrol engine instead of a diesel engine, you may find spending a lot on fuel. With diesel you can drive another 15 miles per gallon.
Small cars tend to have petrol engine while bigger ones have diesel engines. So if you want to save on gas, hire a bigger car. You may have to pay extra for the car, but that’s just a small amount compared to the cost of petrol.

The number of complaints regarding car hire is increasing every year so to make sure you are not ripped off by any car rental agency, be careful while choosing the car rental agency. In the next section we’ll discuss tips that’ll help you choose a good car rental company.
Things to Consider While Choosing a Discount Car Rental

When it comes to car rental, almost all the car rental companies offer similar range of vehicles, only the classifications are different. The type of cars available with car rental companies have increased compared to the yesteryears, since SUVs, specialized cars, environment friendly cars, etc have been added to the fleet.

While a luxury car might sound exiting, the choice of car would depend on your need. If you want to impress your girlfriend, you might go for a luxury SUV, but if it is only for transportation from one point to another, a compact car might just be right for you. A convertible during monsoon is just a waste of money, since you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the fresh air sweeping through your hair. You’ll have to keep the hood closed most of the time. Be very careful when choosing the vehicle. So what do you look for while choosing a car rental company? When choosing a discount car rental, the first thing that strikes us, is the price offered by the company. But remember, cheap is always not the best option. The rates may be cheap because the services are not at all up to the mark.

Here are a few things to consider while choosing the right car rental company:
• Good Customer Experience: If the offerings are the same, so how does one car rental differ from another? While you are on a vacation, you don’t want to get into an argument with anyone. All that you want is that your vacation goes on smoothly and all the experiences are pleasant. Good care rentals understand this and try to offer the best services to create better customer experiences. They’ll be transparent in their policies and will go out of their way to help you. You’ll also get proper assistance in case, you’re in trouble.

• Terms & Conditions: Cheap rates mean a lot of hidden costs. So make sure you read the contract very well, especially the fine prints. A good policy would have all the details. If you have any confusion, don’t be shy to ask questions. You’re paying them so make sure you get the most out of your money. You should never miss out reading the cancellation policy. This is very essential since emergencies can happen anytime and it is best to be prepared.

• Referrals: Referrals are the best way to get hold of good car rental companies. Look for customer testimonials and ask your friends, family and colleagues who have visited the place before. Ask them about their experiences. You can also check the online sites for reviews.

• Reputation: You don’t always have to hire from a multinational chain. Many local discount car rentals offer great services at great prices. The reputation of the car rental is an indication of the quality of services provided by them. Talk to local people and search online to find reputed car rentals. Most online travel or car rental websites offer star rating options, so more the number of stars, better would be the reputation.

• Booking Process: Many car rental companies offer online booking facilities. Online booking enables customers to book cars at their convenience and at any hour of the day. Any company that upgrades itself with time should offer all the modern day facilities to provide great customer experiences.

• Local Knowledge: A reputed and experienced car rental company that has been working for years would be able to provide you in-depth information about the state or country. Which routes should you take? What are the best places to visit? What are your accommodation options?

• Competitive Prices: this is most important. Although you don’t want to go with the cheapest rates, you should find a company that offers competitive prices. Compare rates and the things included within the price, from different car rental companies.
The best way to find good discount car rentals is to follow your gut feeling. If you get stuck at a point and don’t know which way to go, listen to your inner voice and it will take you to the right direction. Hiring cars from a good company is very essential for a great vacation. 

Vacations are time when you want to relax and be away from things that cause irritation and disturbances. So to make sure you have a pleasant experience, get hold of the best car rental company and drive away with a smile!

Vacation season is round the corner and it’s time to put on the boots and get going. It’s time to spend some ‘we time’ with your loved ones or have a blast with your kids. Like it is important to choose the right destination for an awesome experience, it is equally important to choose the right discount car rental. While you visit a place you can find a number of car rental companies both in the airport and off-site.

It is strongly recommended not to hire a car at the airport, since it adds up extra expenses on your bill. Instead, you can safely hire a car off site. But that being said, there are good ones and bad ones. To make your vacation smooth and memorable, you need to get hold of the right car rental company. Remember all companies would say they offer the best services at the best price, but that’s just too good to be true. In most cases, people go with companies offering the lowest rates; be cautious as it can be a trap again. Cheap rates indicate a lot of hidden costs and finally you end up paying even more than the highest rates.
It is essential that you educate yourself about the details of car rental companies and the possible ways they can trap you. Being prepared can save you from bad situations. Research a lot and plan ahead. Just like you took out time to plan your vacation, places to visit, the accommodation, etc, take out some time for the most important aspect of your trip – discount car rentals.

Car rental companies would offer you with a lot of choices, but make sure you get the one that’s just right for you! Don’t ever get overwhelmed with the choices. So no matter whether you are on a casual tour, business trip or attending a wedding, make a style statement in the way you arrive!

Author Bio: Vineet Agarwal has been long associated with V1 Technologies which offers world class Website Design, SEO & PPC, Domain & Hosting, Mobile AppDevelopment and other similar services. Aside from being a dynamic entrepreneur, Vineet is an avid traveller and loves exploring new countries and culture. Discount car rentals interest him largely and he has been extensively sharing his knowledge with friends and peers about discount car rentals and mistakes to avoid when hiring cars. 

1 comment:

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