Renting a car has become common in the USA. Either to avoid the generally poor public transport plus the expensive taxis/Ubers or just for the need of comfort and privacy when travelling long distances, Americans have found a lifesaver in this fast-growing industry.
Although a car rental makes getting around much easier and budget-friendly, a big breach of disinformation reigns regarding this matter, resulting in many renters leaving with bad car rental experiences. With this in mind, we decided to do our own research to educate you about the subject and so your car rental process is easy and problem-free.
Here’s everything you need to know when renting a car in the USA:
Book in advance
First things first… many of us tend to leave things for the last minute and this is a huge mistake when it comes to car rentals. The reason is simple, this is a pretty busy business and if you don´t take your precautions you could end up paying a fortune for a car model you didn’t even want in the first place. The recommendation is to book your car at least two weeks in advance to warrant car availability with the best deals.
Use a broker
Just as with flights and hotels, you can use a broker to reserve your rental car. Why a broker?
A car rental broker is a web page that compares the best car rental agencies so you can get the best quality-price relation offers in just one search. This way you would be saving a lot of time and money while also getting the best professional assistance during the whole reservation process.
Here are 5 of the best online car rental brokers according to Trustpilot:
According to the renter’s most frequent reviews, this broker offers the best value for money in comparison to others sites. They have an interactive and easy-to-navigate platform and the diverse payment methods they offer (credit/debit cards and Paypal) make it feature one of the best scores in Trustpilot.
This is another great option if you are looking for a fair quality-price relation. This broker has alliances with the best rental companies offering a wide vehicle fleet with the best deals. Customers also praise its friendly and efficient customer service staff, always ready to solve any issue during the car rental process.
Priceline is known for displaying straightforward and accurate information for its clients, making their renting process fast and safe. Apart from car rental, this broker offers flight, cruise and hotel services, making it a very diverse option. Their customer service fast response time is also praised by its clients.
This broker is known for offering clients a great renting experience with a quick easy and straightforward reservation process. Car Rentals clients appreciate their website´s many options specially their free cancellation process and its intuitive, friendly platform. Also clients can find useful information about things to do once in their destination.
Rentalcars works with more than 900 companies in 160 countries and it has options to rent a car in more than 50 thousand destinations worldwide. With an about 800 vehicle fleet, options for renters are very wide. Rentalcars customer service agents are multilingual and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week which is of great value for its customers.
The required documentation
You must pay special attention to this as if you fail to handle any of the required documentation at the counter you are prompt to be denied your car rental, and nobody wants that.
This is the general required documentation to rent a car in the USA according to the USA car rental regulations:
- Valid ID
- Valid driver’s license
- Credit card under the reservation’s holder. A deposit will be required as a guarantee upon pick-up of the vehicle and this will be blocked in your credit card. Said deposit will be released upon return of the car.
- Being over 25: However, drivers 21 to 24 years old are allowed to rent with a daily extra fee. (Secondary driver must be always over 25).
- a printout of the booking confirmation voucher at the rental location.
However, these requirements might slightly change depending on what US State you´re renting in so you must make sure to request the rental agency all the detailed required documentation you need for the car rental pick up.
Car rental coverage is highly recommended
Car rentals in the United States are not insured so any damage to or loss of the rental car will be your responsibility. What is the wise thing to do? Buy at least the minimum liability offered at the counter to have peace of mind and save yourself any unfortunate inconvenience. Take a look:
- CDW-LDW (Collision Damage Waiver – Loss Damage Waiver): This coverage will exempt you from loss or minor damage to the rental car (This doesn’t include the vehicle bodywork, glass, windshield, mirrors, or tires) as long as there´s no breach on the rental car agreement.
- LIS (Supplemental Liability Insurance): It provides coverage for renters if a third party is injured as a result of an accident.
It is recommended to buy the coverage directly at the counter as if you take it from an external company; the rental agency might reject it and make you buy theirs as well.
Is it necessary to take any extras?
Car rental agencies offer many extras to take in the counter for an extra fee, but taking them or not will only depend on your travel needs. For example, if you’re travelling with kids it is mandatory to have a baby chair or booster, if you don’t have your own, you can buy a new one or rent it at the counter; or if you are travelling long distances the One Way or drop fee tax will allow you to drop the car in a different location, always upon availability (Beware of the highway tolls as they will be charged to the rental car you left as guarantee).
Inspection is important!
Make sure you inspect the rented vehicle before leaving the rental agency. It is important to check the current condition of the car and if you notice any damage, you must immediately report it to the car rental agents. This will avoid being charged extra fees at the time of returning the vehicle.
As a final recommendation, never forget to check the contract terms before signing it. Although this step is always seen as unnecessary or time-wasting, it is actually the key to avoid any misunderstandings and hidden charges you will regret later.
Renting a car in the USA plays a significant role in making your travel experience hassle-free, just make sure to take all the precautions and follow the above steps so everything comes out successfully straightforward!
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Please note this is a collaborative article.