Renting out a car is a very convenient option while traveling. While most places you might visit probably have some sort of public transportation option, the freedom to go wherever you want whenever you want that comes with a rental car can really improve a vacation. Of course, there are also some risks that come with the service. For example, what if you get billed for damages to the car that you didn’t cause after you return it? Luckily, avoiding that problem can be very simple—just take a picture of your rental car.
“The very fact that it’s highly unlikely you’ll return the car to the same employee and you’re not likely to hang around, and will just drop off the car then get on with your day or get to your flight, means that the person checking the car will have no idea whether any scratch or damage was there before you rented the car,” says Dale Johnson, co-founder and content strategist at Nomad Paradise. Taking a picture of your rental car can help you avoid paying for anything you’re not responsible for. Make sure you know about the red flags you’re falling for a bad car rental too.
It’s also important that you go beyond taking just one picture and instead take multiple, detailed ones. “You want to take several close-up pictures of any scratches or visible damage you can see after being given the keys to your rental car, regardless of what the rental car employee says or assures you of,” Johnson says. “Body-work is the most visible, and where you’ll naturally encounter the most flags. Also, check the wheels and hub-cabs, and take pictures of any visible scratches or scars. Inside, check for stains or tears in the fabric.” When you’re done taking the pictures, make sure the timestamps on the pictures are also clearly visible.
Johnson also advises that you get the name of the employee that gives you the rental car at the counter and to ask them to accompany you to the car if they can. “Them visibly seeing you taking photos will stand you in good stead if you end up being charged for damage, and you have to liaise over phone or via email with the rental company. You can reference the employee you named,” Johnson says. Speaking of employees, here are the 18 things rental car companies won’t tell you.
Of course, the rental car company can still try and charge you for damages on the car that you didn’t cause. However, when you have the pictures to prove that those damages existed when you rented the car, you wouldn’t be able to pay for anything you’re not responsible for. These pictures will also help ease your anxieties if you’re an anxious traveler. Next, check out these travel secrets that guarantee a stress-free trip.