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The dos and don’ts of renting a vehicle


What are the fundamentals of renting a vehicle? This is just one question that leads us on to many others – will I need additional insurance? How many drivers should I put down? Can I drop it off at a different branch? Can I cross the border into a different country? In short, it’s a minefield when it needn’t be. Here’s a breakdown of what to do, and so leave you free to enjoy your travel experience, be it business or pleasure.

Make a reservation in advance

You want the right vehicle, so plan ahead. Consider the number of people that are travelling, check where you are going to go and check how much luggage or equipment you will need to fit in. You want the trip to be comfortable, so squeezing people or their belongings in might not be the right option. If the roads are likely to be bad on your trip then consider a 4x4. It might not be essential, but it will allow for faster and less troublesome travel. Think about fuel consumption.

Check your AA or RAC or equivalent membership 

They often include deals and concessions with certain companies, and as many rental companies are now international, this might be applicable. Frequent flier membership often offers you similar deals.

Read the rental agreement closely

This sounds too obvious to state, but the number of people who simply sign up and drive off is considerable. You want peace of mind, so do your homework and check the guidelines of your reservation. If in doubt, ask, and get the answer in writing via email or text. Always check the collection and drop off time, and double check the number of days that you have booked; plan your rental around these days to be confident of a stress free hire. Check what happens if you return it a couple of hours late. Once you know the guidelines, all you have to do is follow them.

Ask about upgrades

The rental agent usually has a fair bit of discretion about the price you pay for individual models, so if they ask about a bigger model, say it depends on the price and see what happens.  

Always take the vehicle with a full tank of fuel, and always return it with a full tank of fuel

Again, this sounds obvious, but the rental company could charge up to double for the fuel they have to add if you return it less than full, so this can be an extra addition to the credit card later. If you check for a petrol station on the way out of the rental lot, then you can be sure to fill up quickly and freely as you head back to the rental branch. You might want to consider getting a receipt to pass to the rental company, just in case.

Check your vehicle closely for scratches

And if you see any the rental guy missed, point them out. Better to have them recorded now than noticed later. When you return it, don’t just leave it and walk out the gate, but make sure an agent checks the car over with you and signs it off – you don’t want any nasty phone calls later that week!

Need more advice about renting a car or van? Contact the friendly team at Mayday today!