Renting a car

Renting a car

Renting a car is paying for the use of a car over a specified period of time, usually a short period of time, such as on vacations or business trips. Renting should not be confused with leasing a car, which is a long-term agreement.

Tips on Renting a Car

  • Shop around for the best rental rates. Compare all fees, in addition to the daily/weekly rate, before renting. Try our car rental search to compare prices from different companies quickly online.
  • Discount Programs. If you are a member of an association or trade group, you may be eligible for significant savings on your rental. For example, all members of the National Association of Foreign-Born (NAFB) receive discounts up to 20% at major international car rental companies (NAFB membership is free for this year.  

  • Carefully inspect the vehicle and its tires before renting. If there is any material damage (including dents or serious scratches) notify a rental company representative who can indicate on your rental agreement that the damage existed before you received the car.

  • Collision and Liability Insurance: Most car rental contracts make the consumer liable for all damage to the vehicle, no matter who caused it. Before you rent a car, check with your own car Insurance company to see if you already have coverage for car rental damages and to what extent. Also, some credit cards provide limited protection if you use the card to charge your rental. Call your credit card company to ask about your specific circumstances.

  • Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), in states that allow it, is an optional charge of $9 to $13 a day by the rental company. CDW is not technically collision Insurance, but is a "guarantee" that the rental company will pay for certain damages to your rented car. If you decline to pay extra for CDW, you accept responsibility for any damages. Rental companies also may sell loss-of-use and liability Insurance. Check with your own car Insurance agent and credit card company in advance, so you do not duplicate coverage you already have.

  • If you pay by credit card, some rental companies will place a hold or freeze on your account during the rental period, which could reduce your available credit by a significant amount. Others might start to charge your account before the rental period is over. Find out the company's policy on credit card billing in advance.

  • Check refueling policies. Usually, you can choose to refill at a local gas station, let the car rental company refuel the car at its price (which is generally higher), or pay in advance for a tank of gas (which will cost you needlessly if there is any unused gas upon returning the vehicle).

  • Contact your state or local consumer protection agency for information on state law or to report problems with your car rental .
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