3 Things you should NEVER do with a Rental Car

3 Things you should NEVER do with a Rental Car

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Never ever do these 3 things when renting a car! These days, renting a car is pretty easy, but did you know there are a few things renters should be very wary of when renting a car? Yep. These gotchas can add unnecessary cost or hassle to your trip. Here are the 3 Things you should NEVER do with a Rental Car.

Be sure to check out our entire “Never do this while traveling” series, including fan favorite, 3 Things to Never, Ever do in a Hotel

3 Things you should NEVER do with a Rental Car

By way of summary, here are the 3 things you should never do with a rental car. We examine each in more detail in the subsequent sections.

  1. Get the insurance
  2. Prepay your gas
  3. Return your car without filling it up

Why you should always decline car rental insurance

Never get the insurance. It’s a borderline scam and you probably don’t need it. Specifically, we are talking about the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) option renters are offered when renting a car. As the folks at Smarter Travel note, “…when you buy a CDW, the rental company surrenders its rights to charge you for damage to a car rental.” In other words, you can pretty much bash the car around and walk away with no additional cost.

Why you should always decline car rental insurance

If you are renting a car for personal reasons your primary auto insurance extends to rental car use, however you may have to pay a deductible and, as always, the terms of your specific policy may vary slightly. This is a great benefit of simply having basic auto insurance.

Moreover, when renting the car for personal reasons there is a pretty good chance you have a credit card that will provide rental car coverage at no additional cost. Most, although not all, credit cards provide some sort of car rental insurance that covers many of incidents you may run into and include basic collision, theft coverage, etc. This is known as secondary coverage (your personal auto insurance is primary coverage).

In other words, the credit card pays what your personal auto insurance doesn’t which often includes your personal auto insurance deductible (sweet!). For example the CapitalOne Platinum Card includes secondary coverage for those renting cars.

Some cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, offer what’s known as Primary Coverage which is considered a real perk by card holders of these cards. In this situation it’s going to an extremely rare situation where a renter will have to pay anything related to rental car damage barring significant negligence or criminal activities, etc.

The extremely well regarded Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers a compelling car insurance benefit for cardholders by offering it’s card holders PRIMARY coverage:

Apply online for Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Includes Car Rental Coverage Features

Renting a car for a work trip

If you are renting it a work trip then your company’s insurance will cover damage. In fact, many companies expressly prohibit employees from purchasing additional rental car insurance.

Never prepay your gas when renting a car

The second in our list of “never do this when renting a car” is prepaying your gas. Yup, this is more than just maybe a scam. It IS a scam.

Why you should never prepay your gas when renting a car

Rental car companies entice you to pay for your gas up front instead of having to bring it back full. Sounds like a nice convenient perk, no? No, is right. What really happens is the rental car companies charge your for a full tank of gas regardless of how much you actually drive.

Let’s say you only drive 100 miles and your gas tank is sitting a tad above half full. Too bad. You already prepaid for a full tank. Unless you drive the car until it’s on it’s last fumes you are going to get a raw deal.

Always, always, always pass on prepaying your gas when renting a car.

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Miss out on your rental car points

Rental car rewards programs are typically not the most lucrative loyalty programs on the planet. Usually you have to spend or rent a fair bit to really make the program pay off, but why miss out on the points!

If nothing else, try to earn the points and transfer them to another program. Look for special offers between airline and rental car companies (like Hertz and United) to maximize the total points earned off your car rental (including airline miles).

You can use your rental car points to earn free rental car days and who doesn’t love free?

Some other things you should avoid doing when renting a car

We could have made this list about 10 or 12 deep, but we topped it off at three. However, there are a few other things car renters should avoid we briefly touch on below. Some are serious. Some are funny-ish.

  • Not getting an AC Mounted Cell Phone Holder. No need to have your cell phone flopping around on the floor of your rental car while you try to see what the next turn on you Nav system is. Instead, get a portable and removable AC mounted cell phone holder. Boom. Problem solved.
  • Never rent a nav system. Speaking of nav systems, there’s no need to rent one these days. Use your phone silly.
  • Forgetting to inspect your car before you drive it off the lot. Depending on your solution to insurance (see above) this may be a moot point, but you’d still potentially have to deal with hassle of claims, etc. It’s better to simply give your vehicle a once over and take note of any damage before you drive off the lot.
  • Renting from Avis. This is half joke half serious. We are not big fans of Avis here and prefer to rent from National whenever we can.
  • Not getting the convertible. Always get the convertible. 🙂

Other Rental Car Tips & Tricks we cover

We’ve covered the topic of rental cars quite extensively here at the CBoardingGroup including rental car hacks, loyalty program overviews and more. Here is a detailed list of all of our current rental car content:

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Author Biography

We. Do. Business Travel. The CBoardingGroup.com is a leading business travel focused travel blog. The principal author has over 18 years of consistent & frequent business travel. Over the years, he has developed various travel habits, travel tips, advice and more that he shares with fellow travelers of all skill levels. From hotel life, to airplane tips, to the weekly grind of frequent travel, plus a little travel humor, this blog is a haven for business travelers. Read his full bio here.

Advertiser Disclosure: CBoardingGroup has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. CBoardingGroup and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. “Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.”

2 comments on “3 Things you should NEVER do with a Rental Car

  1. Gene

    I am sorry, but you are 100% wrong on the gas. While I have never personally paid for gas on a car rental, some people value their time more highly than others. Paying for this service may be pricey, but it is no where near a scam. That’s like saying hotel room service is a scam.


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