So you need to rent a car for the first time and probably have some questions. Perhaps you need a vehicle for a road trip with friends. Or maybe your car is being repaired and you need a way to get around in the meantime. A car rental is probably your best option for both cases. But if you have not rented a vehicle from an agency like Sixt before, there are some things to know before you go.
Tips for Renting a Car for the First Time
Check the Car Before Driving Off
Sometimes a rental vehicle will have been damaged, whether while parked at the station or by the previous driver. It’s important to thoroughly look over the rental car exterior for scratches, dents or other damage and make sure the rental agent notes any imperfections in the rental agreement. If you are feeling extra cautious, you can take photos as your own documentation. If the damage is not noted, or you cause damage to the vehicle, you will be charged when the vehicle is returned or have to deal with filing a vehicle protection claim.
Prepaid or Not?
Depending on the car rental company and location, you will likely save money off the daily rate by paying in full when you book a vehicle. Be aware that when you prepay, if you cancel your reservation in the event that your plans change, then changes may apply. The advantage of choosing to pay later when you book your car is that you have the option to cancel free of charge at any time.
Be Prepared to Swipe a Credit Card
Nearly all car rental agencies will require a credit card for booking, whether online or not. You will also be asked to present your credit card when getting to the rental counter. The good news is that some cards offer benefits for car rentals, although be sure to check the fine print before picking up your rental car. At Sixt, we accept debit cards as another payment option. The only limit is that you won’t be able to book a luxury vehicle. Find out more about payment methods.
Use your Credit Card for Car Rental Protection
Don’t forget to check whether your credit card or personal car insurance covers rental cars. Many credit cards include rental car coverage to some degree and this can really reduce the final price of a rental car. To find out the extent of your coverage, all you need to do is call the number on the back of your credit card to inquire. While this might sound daunting, the savings can really add up. For example, if the coverage costs $20 a day, then $280 can be saved on a 14-day vacation. If your card does cover rental cars, it is best to print out this information and keep it with your rental car documents in case of an emergency.
Being Loyal Pays Off
If you don’t like waiting in line but do like to collect points, it’s worth your while to see if the agency has a customer loyalty card. For instance, we have the Gold Sixt Card which gives you the benefit of discounted rates, speedier car rental collection, and free additional drivers. In order to reap the rewards of this type of loyalty card, you need to rent from the same agency multiple times – for the Gold Sixt Card it’s over 3 times in one year.
Keep Those Fuel Receipts
Most of the time you will need to return your rental vehicle with a full tank of gas. Some companies also have a prepaid policy, where you can pay for them to refill the gas tank when you return it. But if you choose to return the vehicle with a full tank of gas, make sure to keep a receipt to show when you return the rental car to make sure you won’t get charged.
Watch Your Return Time!
When you rent a car, you are required to put down dates and times for pick up and return. While some leeway might be given, it’s best to watch the time and return the rental car when you said you would. If you know ahead of time that your return time will change, it’s best to contact the rental agency to adjust the reservation.
Finally – a Hint About the Fuel Gauge
If you have ever driven an unfamiliar car and had to gas up, you know the frustration of realizing that you don’t know which side the fuel tank door is on. But most cars have a secret way of knowing: the little triangle arrow pointing to the left or right next to dashboard fuel level indicator. This could save you from confusion when pulling into the gas station.