Online Car Rental? 8 Useful Basic Tips

Long ago doing anything online was taboo, e-commerce was chimera. Those who bought online were seen as fearless. The classic question was “But do you trust? Aren’t you afraid that…?” In short, classic side questions. And for travel it was the same same thing.

Now instead we do everything online, and when we get to planning a trip on your own, we realize how much easier the Internet has made our lives. We reach information very quickly and are able to optimize everything. In itinerant travel, even more so during a road trip, it is necessary to define times well and try to fit everything in.

In addition to reaching information, the Internet has allowed us to organize ahead of time with reservations as well. Flights, hotels, but not only that, even when renting a car it is extremely convenient to do everything from home and show up directly at the car pick-up counter at the airport with the paper already printed. 10 minutes of paperwork and then we become “masters” of our car.

You might be interested in this article -> How to rent a car

Useful tricks for renting a car

For those who are accustomed to online car rental, this may seem like a no-brainer; in fact, I’m sure even the most practical of you will find a few tips you hadn’t thought of before.

1 – Renting through online portals

This is a fairly simple tip that I imagine you are all aware of. Renting a car online allows us to compare costs and rely on intermediaries such as Rentalcars (a service I use pretty much all the time) who analyze all the possible rental companies for the time and place you are doing your research.

There are really a lot of sites that allow you to compare different services. In addition, free cancellation and possibly price matching has also appeared in the online car rental world. Using online intermediaries means relying on safe and serious services that I completely rely on and have always been very comfortable with, just read all the various rental clauses carefully.

2 – Beware of credit cards for car rentals close in time

This advice comes almost by accident between chats among friends. Whenever you rent a car (online or offline it makes no difference) you have to guarantee the car by means of the security deposit/deposit which is usually about 1100/1200 euros.

In the car pickup queue at the rental counter I have repeatedly heard people bewildered at the bail requirement; if they had read my post on “How to rent a car” they would not have been taken aback.

In reality you pay nothing and the money stays locked on the card, not withdrawn. When you return, when you check out the vehicle you will be provided with a document stating that the rental was successful and the deposit will be returned to you within a few days. Should you have no other rentals or major payments, the time lapse between when you hand over the car and when the money is credited back to you is of little importance.

Let’s say, on the other hand, that you are moving between several islands in Greece and on each you set out to rent a car to get around. Here a problem will arise. When you rent the second car, it will be quite likely that you will not have sufficient funds to cover the second deposit since you will still be waiting for the re-credit (in availability) from the previous rental.

So be careful about this; it is best to use two different credit cards for reservations. Remember, however, that the primary driver will be the one in whose name the credit card is registered. If you want to have another person drive, it will be necessary to request payment for the additional driver.

3 – The location of the check-in desk: inside or outside the terminal?

This sounds like a big platitude but it is not. When you rent a car online, be careful to read, when you make your reservation, where you will need to go to handle the rental formalities.

Either the check-in counter will be inside the terminal so you can go quickly to pick up the car or the check-in is at another location than the terminal. And in the latter case, how far is it?

These little things greatly affect the time and also the various misunderstandings with the rental companies. This is not something to be underestimated and I realized this during my road trip to Mexico. Arriving at the airport in Cancun I had to pick up my car but the company I had rented with was not present inside the terminal, you really had to go outside and wait for a shuttle to take you to a sector of the parking lot quite far from the arrivals.

Nothing so problematic except that they didn’t understand a damn thing on the phone and I stayed about half an hour waiting for a shuttle that never seemed to arrive. All after 3 layovers with 20+ hours of flying behind me. So best to make sure the rental desk is inside the terminal or, if it is outside, make sure how far away it is.

4 – Underwrite Comprehensive Protection for stress-free travel

If you book a car online with the brokers I mentioned in point 1 of this article, you will be asked during the booking process if you want to protect your rental with “Comprehensive Coverage.”

What does this mean?

A basic rental involves leaving a security deposit of about 1,200 euros (varies by company and country) when you take delivery of the car. This deposit is returned to you when you return the car at the end of the trip (with the timeframe I explained in point 3). If you experience an inconvenience during the rental period, this will be charged to you. I do not know the dynamics of this because fortunately it has never happened to me, but the deposit serves as security for the damage you caused. The fact of the matter is that you get money deducted from that initial 1200 or so euros because the damage deductible is up to you.

“Full Protection” is additional insurance that you can take out when you rent online. Usually these are agreements between the broker and well-known insurance companies. Comprehensive coverage can have different features but basically it provides “Deductible Reimbursement.”

If that darned inconvenience happens, the amount of the damage will still be deducted from the security deposit you have locked in at the beginning of the rental, but later the insurance coverage that provides you with “Comprehensive Protection” will reimburse you for the amounts as per the insurance contract.

I always subscribe to “Full Protection.” On my road trips, I like to be serene. Despite being extremely careful, the unexpected can always happen and knowing that you have your “back covered” allows you to enjoy the trip.

5 – Insurance coverage, be careful not to load another one

I echo the previous advice. This is more of a warning than anything else.

At the time of paperwork at the car rental counter you may be asked to sign up for insurance coverage. They are not necessarily aware that you already have any Comprehensive Protection (assuming you purchased it beforehand during the online rental phase) so they will ask you if you want to take out their insurance.

Pay attention: do not re-pay for a service that you have already requested and is already contractually active. Either do Full Protection when renting online or take out the insurance at the car rental counter.

6 – The Drop-Off or One-Way, beware of rising costs

But how nice it is to start the trip in one place and end it in another completely different place, miles and miles away from the starting point. Nice yes, but economically unsustainable. Let me explain. The thing that fascinates me about ontheroads is just that idea of not “having to go back.” I only travel the road once, enjoy the view, enjoy it for just that moment.

When you rent a car at point A and always return it to the same point A, you don’t have to pay any additional fees.

When, however, you rent at point A and want to drop it off at point B, then things change. You have to pay the“Drop-Off,” also called the “One Wayfee because by leaving the car completely at another place, we are using a service that we have to pay for.

Also discover this article: What is Drop-Off or One Way Rental?

The important thing is to be well informed about what the cost of a “Drop-off” is. Sometimes it is a low cost, other times it is a major cost that can result in a change of itinerary.

For example, I remember that when I booked my car for Mexico, reading the various information on the Internet mentioned drop-off costs of $600. Understand well that $600 is not a small amount and leads to making different choices or at least leads to an awareness of an additional major cost to add to the budget. In Morocco, on the other hand, the “One Way” cost was 80 euros, a decidedly low cost compared to $600.

The bottom line is: when planning a trip or plan an itinerary on the road, start first by analyzing how much impact a possible “Drop-off” cost will have, which you will not pay online but directly at the rental company’s counter because it is a service that the broker does not offer you but the company itself. At the time of booking you are made aware of the “One Way” cost but I still recommend that you sound out forums and even other blogs to get counter-evidence of the amount paid by other travelers before you.

7 – Car too dirty -> Beware!

What’s a little sand on the windshield of the car, no big deal, right?

Well no. Or rather, it depends. I have rented a car so many times and before my ontheroad trip to Morocco I had never had to go and wash the car before returning it. Well, maybe because it had never happened to me before I had been in the middle of several sand storms mixed with water. My black Fiat Panda was anything but black.

There was a first time for me, too. In all other situations it had never happened to me. However, on the rental agreement it says this charge to the traveler, so assess the condition of your car carefully. At the end of the rental they will have to check for possible dents or scratches. If the car is dirty beyond belief they will not be able to see anything. Either you will pay the penalty (50 euros if I remember correctly) or you will be better off getting it as shiny as it was at the beginning of the rental.

8 – Anticipate the return of the car by half an hour

This last piece of advice stems from the fact that the car drop-off procedure follows a fairly uniform practice between countries and between companies, but you have to be cautious in order to avoid arriving late at the controls and at the gate. Several times I found slow and listless attendants, other times I simply handed back the keys without them looking at the car.

In Morocco at the car drop-off it felt like being in the Desert of the Tartars; my girlfriend and I in an unlit car inside the Tangier parking lot. Eventually, someone came to meet us and we were able to return it. In my last trip to Normandy didn’t even need to have the car checked, I handed the keys back to the counter and lots of kisses and goodbyes.

As a rule it pays to be cautious and consider a slightly early return so as to avoid possible delays. And finally. I hope all these little tricks will help you in renting a car online. If you have further questions please comment on the article and I will try as much as possible to give you a comprehensive answer.

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