A lot of people talk about hacking airline travel, or hotel stays or credit cards, but you are hard pressed to find any travel tips on getting the most out of your rental car experience. And if you are a serious business traveler you are spending a lot of time in a rental car.
I happen to be a big fan of National rent car, but I’ve rented from Avis, Hertz, Budget and more. They all have their pros and cons, but for my money, National has nailed it.
Here are some of the best rental car hacks that I’ve seen help you get the most bang for your money/time when renting a car for business.
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Rental Car Hacks
- Skip the insurance. It’s likely your personal car insurance covers the rental or if on corp travel, your company’s insurance. Rental car insurance is a really just a scam. It’s not needed, unless you literally have no other insurance options some where else. If that’s the case, you are probably not a business traveler…and more like a 26 year old kid in college. 🙂
- Signing up for reward programs. You signed up for the frequent flier program w/ your fav airline, but don’t forget to get on board w/ the rental car company’s program. They offer lots of benefits that you can use to your advantage (like scoring free rental days, or upgrading to a luxury car).
- Paying attending to the the bonus programs the rental companies often offer (and require you to “register for” – many folks sign up for the basic rewards program, but never check the rental company’s website to see if there are other offers they can pile on top – but you often have to register for them
- Never prepay gas. It’s stupid expensive. Plan your return w/ enough time to fill up and save $$. Rental car companies charge you for a FULL tank even if you only used up 1/4 tank. And it’s at a much higher rate (like double). Do it yourself. Many
companies actually prohibit employees from taking this option – forcing you to fill it up yourself before returning it.
- Book early. It’s been my experience that booking your rental car earlier than later gets you the best rates.
- Rent from the rental company directly. Many times your company will prohibit this and force you to got through their travel booking system. But if you can book direct you might be able to get a better rate and/or be able to use a discount code.
- Download their mobile app. Most rental car companies now have a mobile app (some better than others). It can help you book the car, but more likely you will use it to track your reward program, special offers, or figure out which car you are renting and where it’s at.
- Ask for the upgrade. You’d be surprised at how often they will give you one. Especially if you are a regular traveler and its a slow rental day. Can’t hurt to ask!
- When buying a personal car consider a pre-owned rental. Conventional wisdom says don’t do this because they’ve been rode hard and put away wet. I’ve found the opposite to be true. They likely followed regular maint schedules, were fixed when damaged, and are usually only 2 years old. I’ve found some wonderful vehicles this way (we have a 2007 Suburban w/ 170k miles on it now that was a rental). And you can usually get a good deal.
I hope these travel tips were helpful. Use them to get the most out of your business travel life and maximize your rental car experience. Don’t forget to check out all of my travel hacks via 101 Travel Hacks for the Business Traveler!