Do you need a car on your next trip? In some parts of New Zealand, a rental car is vital for giving you the freedom and flexibility you need to travel the country. A rental car can sometimes add complications however, such as sorting out insurance or finding the best deal for you. Take a look at my top 5 car rental tips for more advice.
Think about hidden costs
Car rental costs don't tend to take into account things like gas bills, insurance, additional driver costs, local and state taxes, drop-off charges and more – so the true cost of your car rental could be much higher than you anticipated. Rental rates displayed might be for a smaller vehicle than you would need to use or for cars during off-peak times or seasons, and so it's always important that you double check the costs before going ahead with the rental so you know exactly how much you're going to need to pay out.
Choose the right car
If you're looking for the cheapest rental car, the smallest available model will usually be the best choice for your budget. However, if you're travelling with family or in a large group, a sedan or SUV will be your best choice. However, size isn't the only factor – you might prefer an economical car or an automatic over a stick shift and you may need extras like car seats for young children, a luggage rack or an in-built GPS system.
Get to grips with your reservation
Double check all of the ins and outs of your reservation before going ahead and making your booking. For example, how long will the company hold the car for if you're stuck in traffic or if there's a hold up at the airport? Do additional drivers have to be listed in the contract? Do additional drivers incur extra fees? How old does the driver of the car have to be? Check where the offices are based too, just in case you have any problems with the car on your journey.
Check the car when you pick it up
When you come to pick the car up, check the car over for any damage to the body or to the interior and document the damage or mention it to a representative at the office. Check things like the lights, fog lights, windscreen wipers, turn signals, mileage and the gas tank and ensure you report any defects. If there isn't a representative at the office, photograph the defect so that you can report it later. Finally, make sure that you know exactly where the gas tank is, how to use the lights and turn signals and whether the car is petrol or diesel before driving it off the lot.
Check the car when you drop it off
Make sure that you've taken everything out of the car, such as clothing, shoes, GPS systems, food, cell phones, sunglasses, umbrellas, etc. before you drop it back at the rental office. Ensure that the check-in rep at the office checks over the car whilst you're still there and that you both agree on any damage – and if you have to pay any remaining deposit, or if the deposit is going to be credited back to you, wait until it's sorted out before leaving the office.
Photo by Trey Ratcliff on flickr
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