Renting a car on business trips can provide an advantage over long waits with public transportation and expensive taxis. While car renting is generally simple, here are nine items to consider.
Top 9 car rental tips for business travelers
- Insurance – For corporate travel, check with your company to see if insurance is included in your negotiated contract. Often the counter agent will try to ‘sell-up’ insurance coverage, resulting in extra, unnecessary costs. If your company car rental contract does not cover insurance, check to see if your corporate credit card or personal credit card provides this coverage. If there is no coverage, review your company’s travel policy to see if they will reimburse you for the extra costs.
- Cost of damage – Depending on the insurance coverage, not all costs may be covered. Your credit card company may cover the damage of the car but not other fees incurred by the rental car company, leaving you personally responsible.
- Under 25 drivers – If you are a business traveler under the age of 25, be prepared to possibly pay extra. Car rental companies are reluctant to rent to young drivers because of their inexperience behind the wheel. If traveling for work, check your company’s travel policy as young drivers can be negotiated in a contract and no additional fees will be added.
- Extra drivers – Most business travelers travel independently, but on occasion there may be two or more people sharing a rental. Be aware, there could be extra fees for extra drivers. Think about designating one driver or keeping the driver number at a minimum to keep costs low.
- Stay on the road – It seems simple enough, but when the customer service agent reviews what you can and cannot do, pay attention to this one. Most car rental companies prohibit the use of their cars on unpaved roads. Even with collision damage waivers or car insurance, damages incurred can be voided if the car is driven on unpaved roads.
- Fuel – Fill the tank prior to your return. Car rental companies will ask if you want to purchase a full tank of gas prior to you returning it, but many times you don’t use a full tank of gas or can’t time it right to return the car on ‘E’. If they charge you to fill up the tank, the price per gallon can be two to three times as much as the price at a local gas station. As you leave the airport, look to see where the nearest gas station is so you can stop prior to your return. Again, check your company’s travel policy. Some companies will not reimburse this charge as it is considered extra fees.
- Airport fees – Car rental companies are obligated to pay airport fees and in turn, pass that expense to the traveler. To avoid this, catch a shuttle to your hotel or downtown area and rent a car from a different location. Many airports now have car rentals off-site, but it is still considered airport property and these fees are still assessed. You can find a list of these fees on your reservation to see if you are being charged.
- Bring your own extras – GPS, car seat, satellite, etc. can be charged separately on a daily basis. Bypass these fees and use your phone for GPS, bring your own car seat, and listen to the radio or phone for music. Corporate travel policies may exclude these items and you end up paying for it personally.
- Tolls – Many cities have toll roads and bridges. Do research prior to your business trip to see if there are tolls in the destination city. Many car rental companies will have toll boxes mounted on the windshield, but charge you a per-day fee to use them in addition to the toll fees. These usually are not on the final bill and charged later. As it can be difficult to find a receipt for expense reimbursement for the tolls, make sure you know how the receipt will be delivered. If no toll box is included, tolls will be charged to the license plate number, which in turn is sent to the car rental company and gets tracked back to you or your company. In some states, this is the only way a toll is invoiced. When there is a toll booth, it’s best to have cash, while some accept credit cards.
- Research new area – Savvy business travelers get in and out of city with ease because they are familiar with the processes. When traveling to an unfamiliar city, do a little research to make your travel experience smooth and possibly less expensive.