One big misconception amongst travelers is that rental cars are much more expensive than public transport. Whilst this may be true in some areas, it’s not always the case.

With the proper know-how, you can pretty much grab a rental car deal that’s more or less similar to what you’d shell out if you’ll be taking other modes of transport. The best part though is that you’ll have more convenience and flexibility on your trip.

Book early

This is the first thing you should remember if you want to save on hiring a car. Book as far ahead as possible.

Be meticulous

Check the vehicle’s gas level. The best option is ‘full-to-full’ which means you take it out full of gas, and return it full as well.

Make sure to record in the contract the condition of the car when you pick it up and document if it has scratches, bends, etc. If you miss a small scratch, the agency can charge you for repairs even if the damage was already there before you took the car out.

It’s also advised to refrain from taking any additional insurance offers as this is usually covered through other means. Moreover, About Travel warns renters of hidden extras like sales taxes, vehicle licensing fees, and ‘arena fees’.

Refuse upgrades

The Telegraph mentioned that in the US, agents will almost always convince you to upgrade due to reasons such as insufficient compartment space, small legroom, or other similar justifications. Be firm and refuse offers like these as they can end up costing you a lot more in the long run.

The only time you should consider an upgrade is when the agency can’t provide you with the vehicle you’ve booked in the event that the previous renter damaged it upon return. You can then argue that an upgrade in this case should come free of charge.

Avoid airport rentals

Although convenient, renting a car at the airport entails additional charges such as airport fees. One thing to consider if you do choose this method though, is that major international airports such as London Gatwick, for instance, have parking areas close to its departure and arrival terminals which are only a short shuttle ride away. These carparks are situated between its terminals, according to Parking4Less, which means it only takes you a couple of minutes to walk to your parked vehicle. Taking into account factors like this, you can set the pick-up time and location then have the vehicle ready and waiting for you if everything’s already been arranged.

However, there are workarounds such as cases wherein the rental agency is not that far from the airport. You can take a short commute or book a transfer from the hotel you’ll be staying with to get from the airport to the agency. Most hotels have this option which is still cheaper than the airport fee from a rental car straight out of the airport.

Take advantage of weekly rates, other combinations and special deals

You can sample this yourself. Search for short-term rental cars and make a note of the rate. Then, try setting it for week or more and compare the rate with the first set you looked at. You’ll notice that the price per day is relatively lower.

Lastly, LA Times advises to be on the lookout for ‘flash sales’ and other special deals. These are usually sudden announcements with low rates or other offerings, which may be exactly what you’re looking for.

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