When renting a car, beware of hidden charges and fee traps that can drive your money right of your wallet.
1. Damage waiver
Even though you know you’re already covered by your car insurance policy, rental agents pushing their company’s damage waiver coverage will sound so convincing that you’ll feel like you’re risking it all for refusing their extra coverage. Don’t fall for it–according to Consumer Reports, you could end up shelling out an extra $60 to $250 a week.
2. Damage claims
Consumer Reports says one of its readers was charged $304 for “damage” to a rental car after dropping it off when the office was closed. Their advice: Always pay by credit card so you can dispute inaccurate charges. Another good tip: Use your phone’s camera to take pictures of any scratches on the car before you rent it, and to document its condition when you return it.
3. Fill it up
This is old news. Everyone knows by now that if you’re supposed to bring it back full and you fail to do so, the rental car company will mark up the gas price you’ll pay. What you may not know, however, is just how much they’re marking it up these days: according to Consumer Reports, it can be up to $8 per gallon.
4. Stick with the cheapest cars
In days past, rental car companies would often give free upgrades. Now that cars are in shorter supply, this is less common. While still worth asking for, if you can’t get a free upgrade, don’t get talked into paying for one. Smaller cars are typically easier to drive and park, use less gas, and if something uninsured does happen, cost less to replace.