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Car Rentals – 5 Tips to Saving Money

As client consultants, the Christopherson Andavo account management teams are constantly looking for ways to improve our clients bottom line when it comes to travel spend.  Mark Kahler from writes a great article on ways to save on car rental spend.  One of the best statements in the article is “car rental companies reward people who make life easy for them and penalize those who don’t know the ropes”.

5 Tips to Saving Money when renting your next car.

1- Beware of hidden fees and extras.
If the rental company has to top-off the gas tank after your return, you will pay a ridiculous price per gallon. Always ask that the car be filled up prior to your departure, and then bring it back full of gas.
FYI… other hidden fees are, something called a vehicle license fee that could be up to $20, a city surchage/Airport fee ranging from $0 to $30 depending on which city you are renting in, an “arena fee” to help build the local stadium or some other community structure, and the newest fee is an eco type fee that is usually a small fee to help the car rental company pay to keep their lights on and put gas in their shuttle tanks just to name a few.
2- Airport rentals are best avoided.
In the previous example, many hidden fees were listed.   It’s often very convenient to rent a car at the airport, but keep in mind that you’ll pay for the privilege. If you’re on a business trip, many times you can rent a car from your downtown hotel. If you can conveniently arrange a hotel shuttle or inexpensive public transportation from airport to front desk, chances are good you’ll receive a lower daily rate and there will be no airport concession fees to pay sometimes saving up to $20 per day.
3-  Decline the insurance.
Most travelers know this one, but there is a lot of pressure to change minds at the rental counter. Companies make big profits from insurance fees. Some clerks are trained to create as much anxiety as possible for people who decline it.  They’ll tell you their insurance closes expensive loopholes, which may or may not be true in your case.  They’ll tell you stories about how a customer’s auto insurance or credit card failed to cover damages during a recent accident.  There may be truth in the stories, but the odds are slim that you’ll need any of this coverage. It is very likely, however, that your auto insurance policy at home covers rentals as well. Call your agent to verify it.  Also check with your credit card company to see if using the card to pay for a rental provides collision coverage. In many cases, you’ll find it a positive response.
4-  In smaller offices, reserve the smallest car possible.
Most of us who rent cars don’t like driving compacts. Rental companies know this, and they usually order more mid-size and full-size cars.  If your destination is a smaller facility or non-hub airport, chances are good that they have only a few compacts. On some days, they might not have any compacts when customers arrive.  In that situation, if you’ve reserved a compact, they are obligated to give you a free upgrade. Many times, you’ll move up two categories for no additional charge.
5- Shop for “time” sensitive deals and special offers.
Many times, reserving a car for a week (even if it sits in a driveway or parking lot) is cheaper than trying to get a daily rate on a shorter rental. For that reason, it pays to try a number of time combinations when you consider your rental period.  Weekend rates are much less expensive than weekday rates.  Remember picking up a car rental after noon on Thursday until the end of day on Monday constitutes a weekend rate.  The savings could be up to 60% per day.
Christopherson Business Travel keeps on hand coupons available for car rental upgrades, percentage discounts and other special offers.  Give us a call!  You’ll drive away happy.

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