There are endless miles of the open road for you to explore when you hire a car on your vacation. Nevertheless, there are plenty of other unexpected and surprises as well and you can end up paying well over your planned budget if you are not aware of the most common rip-offs in car hire.
Arm yourself with information. Here is what you need to know about the most common car hire rip-offs in the business.
Rip-off #1: Sky-high excess costs
You will have to pay for insurance when you hire a car. You will also find that these costs can include very high car hire excess insurance charges as well. These will have to pay these costs for potential accidents before the policy goes into effect. These charges can be as high as $2500 or more in many cases and can leave you light in the wallet if the worst occurs.
The excess waiver policy is one way to circumvent these especially high costs and can reduce the costs to $0 or a very small amount. But don’t wait till you arrive at the desk to make this payment. Buy the waiver from the comfort of your home and it will cost a mere $5. This is far less than the $25 dollar charge you will face is if you wait too long.
Rip-off #2: The ‘full-empty’ fuel policy
Facing the high costs of fuel before you even enter the driver’s seat is not a good way to begin your vacations. Many car hire companies will charge you for the full tank of gas with the car and you are allowed to bring the car back on an empty tank if you so choose.
Sounds ok, right? But, there are two major problems with this. First of all you will probably pay top-dollar for this gas. You may also not even use the full tank of gas if you will not be covering great distances.
Sometimes you will be offered a chance to recover some cash on the unused fuel, but there will often be a service charge attached to this solution.
Look for those car hire companies that offer you the fair fuel policy sus they will allow you to bring the car back with the fuel level it had when you picked it up. You will find that all the companies listed in TravelSupermarket include this policy so you can rest assured you will only pay for what you use.
Rip-off #3: The ‘upgrade’ option
When you arrive at the car hire to collect your car, you may find they don’t have the make and model of the car you have been expecting. But, they will be more than happy to upgrade your car, for a price. Don’t fall for this trick. Your car hire company should offer you an upgrade at no extra cost, or offer you a downgrade plus a refund.
You can save yourself a heated debate with the dealership representatives at the desk by making sure this is an option they offer when you are signing the contract.
Rip-off #4: Paying for extras
You may need a sat-nav when you are driving through unfamiliar territory or could use a car seat for the kiddos. This is great, just make sure you don’t fall into the trap of renting the options from the dealer. You will find it cheaper to bring your own.
If your sat-nav does not cover the area you are in, consider purchasing the extra software needed. You can also consider other options such as Google maps in offline mode. If worse comes to worse, using a traditional paper map is both fun and educational.
Rip-off #5: Buying at the desk
There is so much happening around the holiday season and it can be easy to put off your car hire plans until you reach the physical location. Nevertheless, you will find that booking your car in advance, through the online option, is a more cost-effective option. You will now have more cash for the fun stuff.
Furthermore, if you book in advance you will avoid other unpleasant surprises like being left with unsuitable cars that are the only options during peak seasons when the demands for car hire are especially high.
Rip-off #6: Unexpected charges later
You can expect to return from your vacations a bit lighter in your wallet than when you left. But, it can be especially frustrating to see charges being made to your credit card for expenses you thought you had settled.
Car hires can have several reasons for making additional charges. For example, they might claim that the vehicle was damaged when you returned it, or that you returned it with less than the agreed-upon amount of fuel.
You can protect yourself from this eventuality by giving the vehicle a good inspection when you pick it up and then another upon its return. Then be sure to ask for a receipt stating that the car was in good order upon return and had the correct amount of fuel. Furthermore, don’t make the mistake of throwing away any documents receipts or losing the pictures you have taken. These can be especially useful if you will be disputing damages and charges later.
Rip-off #7: Hidden charges
Be sure to read the fine print in all the contracts and policies you will be signing. This can keep you safe from hidden charges.
Some companies will add an additional charge if you have been driving for less than 4 years, others may include an additional cost for second drivers. Then there are some really unscrupulous companies that will include other sneaky fees such as their own private insurance policies for their cars. You will have to sign documents before you use the car so be sure that you are 100% clear on the deals you are making before you put pen to paper.