Car rentals

We are flying into Tampa and renting a car to drive to orlando. I’ve never rented a car before. What are they going to try to sell me for fees/extras that I don’t need? Thanks!

One tip: when you fill up the tank before returning it, keep your receipt. Also take a picture of the full gas gauge. Avis in Tampa is the one that tried to claim I didn’t fill up the tank.

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Find out what your credit card or your own auto insurance covers for rentals. The car rental agency will try to charge you for insurance, but you probably are already covered.

If you have coverage through your own car insurance or credit card, you just sign a waiver to turn down their (very pricey) insurance at the rental counter, which is a little intimidating. Be sure to charge the whole amount on the credit card that offers insurance (Capital One and Chase come to mind, but check the fine print).

Over the course of many, many years of renting cars, we’ve had a couple of small claims (dents, tire blowouts, etc) with rental cars that were covered by our regular car insurance. We had credit card benefits for backup, but never had to use those.

Yes, this happened to us for the first time ever, with Hertz, and I’m a Hertz Gold member. I emailed the receipt, and they said they lost it. Then I did it again. Finally, they reversed the charges and later gave me a couple hundred time-limited points to use. I used to think Hertz was a bit more reputable than the rest, but no longer.

They will also try and rent you a GPS. If you have one already that you own bring it with you. Check your rental car all over even take pictures for any damage that may be present before you take the car. You will then have proof that the damage wasn’t caused by you. Most insurance agencies like State Farm and the like cover those type of rentals. Call your insurance company just to make sure. It is true that some credit card cover rentals but read the fine print on just what they cover and when.

Do you need car seats or a sunpass? If not, turn them down. Be sure you use the correct pay lanes if you don’t have a sunpass and turn theirs down. Some people have been charged for it’s use for the whole trip if it is activated by a charge. That can be expensive.

Great tips! I checked my credit card and rentals are covered!
Yes we are getting a car seat and luckily there are no tolls on the way.

Great tips!

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Fantastic! Be sure to follow the credit card’s instructions on the car rental insurance exactly. You may have to dig to find out what those are. Usually they exclude fancy cars, some types of trucks, etc. and there are some other requirements, too, like paying for the whole rental with that card and signing the waiver, etc. Pretty easy instructions to follow but you need to know what they are.

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Generally your own auto insurance insures rental cars. Check with them first and foremost. If by chance they don’t cover your rental (and I highly doubt it ), then do the credit card thing.

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By default, that’s what happens. The credit card company is secondary, and they are quick to ascertain if you carry any auto insurance. You don’t have to do anything to make your auto insurance kick in, but if you don’t have any, then you do have a couple of little hoops to jump through if you want the CC insurance to work. Or to have it pick up things that your auto insurance doesn’t.

For instance, Chase covers loss of use. Capital One doesn’t. It pays to know those details in case you get into a bad enough wreck that the rental car is out of commission for a few days.

When I scratched a Hertz rental car a few years ago, I filed the claim with Capital One. They took care of everything, even though it was actually State Farm who paid the bill. It was actually pretty painless. All the companies were easy to work with.

I have (fortunately!) never had a bad car rental experience in the US (I’m from the UK), but have had three particularly good ones:

  • Budget at MIA gave me a free upgrade from an intermediate to literally anything they had on the lot (took an SUV and drove around the Everglades/down the Keys)

  • Alamo at PHX said not a word and charged me nothing at all extra for a Corolla that took substantial abuse (particularly around the back end) from loose stones coming off unsurfaced roads

  • Avis at the Hilton Disney Springs were really friendly and helpful, had exactly the car I ordered (Mustang convertible), and the car came with a free sun pass which, on using it, resulted in only the actual toll charges being added to my account

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Lots of good tips on this thread on how to avoid fees/problems.

Here is another thread with great info on how to get the best deal on a rental car in the first place:

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