Car rentals are quite easy nowadays, with so many agents, apps and websites that will help you. But here are some tips and advice that will help save you money and a headache later on.
1. Never reserve the class of car that you want unless you absolutely need it. For example if you plan on going off-roading then you will want to reserve your four-wheel drives and jeeps. But most of the time, lots of car rental services will overbook compacts and small cars and when you come to pick up the car, they may just give you an upgrade for free.
2. In the scenario where they do have enough cars in stock for you, ask for an upgrade. The prices they rent out are not set in stone, a lot of time you can get a better price on a higher class car for a lot cheaper than advertised. For them, you are there already, and ready to take a vehicle off the lot, any upgrades that you take immediately will already be extra revenue for them too.
3. Do not ever use the self-serve kiosks. Like I said, the prices are never set in stone; if you can talk to an agent they can always give you a better price. Their goal is to get you to drive off the lot with one of their vehicles no matter what it takes. If the vehicle is just sitting in the lot they're losing potential income.
4. Join any frequent rental programs they have - even if you are renting for the one time. Joining their membership will help you get that free upgrade. There are a lot of different programs, some of the best ones will be free membership and your points may have up to a 5 year lifespan. Some rental companies only need you to rent 3-5 times before you can cash in on a free rental.
5. Always keep your insurance card with you. It might cost you a bit if you forget it at home since they may need proof of insurance to give you a certain price.
6. Always insure all the drivers that are going to be driving the rental. Additional drivers may cost you an addition $5-$10 a day per driver, but that's going to be a huge saver if an accident should occur.
7. Use your credit card for your rental. Most rental services require a large sum of money for a deposit which may range from $300-$1000. Yes, they refund it back to you, but that is quite a bit of bank to be held if something should happen.
8. If you're travelling, make sure your security contact knows what you are driving. Take a quick picture and just send it to them just to let them know what color, model, and license plate of the rental you are driving.
9. Understand when and where you need to return the vehicle. Some rentals are open24/7, some close early, and make sure you know when you can return the vehicle. Even returning the vehicle early and then catching a cab to the airport than cutting it close will save you a lot of money. Late fees could range to a full day of extra rental at some companies. Plus late thing you want to do is miss your flight.
10. Never skip the walk around. Make sure you know of all the scratches, dings, dents, chips and understand their policy and fine print. If it is quite a bit of damage of the vehicle, make sure you take a picture of it.