Renting a car is an ideal way to independently explore a new destination. Rental vehicles are perfect for both day trips out-of-town and multi-day road-tripping adventures. Nothing quite beats the freedom of traveling under your own steam and going exactly where you want to.
There are many rental car companies in existence across the globe. As with most elements of travel, tricks and scams can be related to renting a car. Be safe, be smart and be savvy and avoid these five common car rental scams.
1. Insurance that is Not Needed
There’s no denying that all forms of travel insurance are important, including having adequate protection for your rental vehicle. Your existing policies may, however, offer an adequate level of protection. Be wary of rental companies that insist you need to buy their suggested policies to be legal. Check your own insurance cover first, otherwise you may end up paying twice.
2. Unfair Fuel Policies
There are several scams related to fuel that seek to part you from your cash. In some cases you may be given a vehicle with an empty gas tank, but then be required to return it full. You may also be charged over the odds if you return a car with less fuel in the tank than stipulated in the agreement. Some companies give customers the option of buying a tank of gas before driving away. The price charged is generally grossly over inflated.
3. Hidden Unnecessary Extras
Some car hire companies may add extras onto the agreement that you don’t need. They may also put the hard sell on you to try to get you to pay extra for things that aren’t necessary. Examples include GPS devices (why not take your own or use a map?), child car seats (again, take your own) and entertainment systems.
4. Charges for Damage
If you damage a car, sure, you’re responsible for the repair costs. Ensure that, should this situation arise, you only pay fair and reasonable costs. Some companies will try to charge you well above a reasonable rate to complete repairs. Even worse, however, is that some companies will try to get you to pay for damages that do not exist. Do a thorough check of the vehicle before taking it and make a note of any existing scratches, other damage and the overall condition. Make the company aware of any issues and take photos too. Otherwise you might find yourself hit with costs for paint jobs for existing scratches, replacement of already old tyres, excessive interior cleaning and similar.
5. Pressure to Upgrade
Another common scam related to renting a car is for the agent to try to persuade you to upgrade … for a higher cost. Of course, just asking you if you would like to pay for an upgrade isn’t, in itself, a scam. How this scam works though is that the company tells the customer that their chosen vehicle isn’t suitable for their proposed trip. Alternatively, they may say that there are no longer any cars of the type initially booked left, and that the customer must pay for a higher-class vehicle.
Watch out for scams if you plan to cross international borders in the rented car too. Avoid scams when renting a car and enjoy exploring a new destination in comfort.