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Save money and avoid hidden charges with these car rental tips

Woman holding the keys of her rental car

If you're new to renting cars, you will find there is a lot to learn about how to get the best price and how to avoid additional charges. Even if you frequently rent cars, there is often many tips and tricks that will help you to get a better deal. VroomVroomVroom has years of experience in the industry, and our car rental experts have plenty of advice to share. Here are just a few secrets of the car rental industry that could help you save money. 

Picking up your rental car from an airport? It may be more expensive.

Many people pick up their rental car from the airport, as it is undoubtedly a convenient location. Although disembarking your flight and heading straight to the car rental desk may sound appealing, be aware that this can add extra money onto your bill. Airports are considered "premium locations" and therefore picking up a rental car there involves an additional surcharge. If you're travel plans are flexible, you can often save money by picking up your car from one of the downtown depots. 

If you're planning a long road trip, it pays to get a hire car with unlimited kilometres

It is always a good idea to read the fine print. In some cases, rental cars come with limited kilometres, meaning you will be charged for every kilometre you travel over that limit. This can add up to quite a bit of money. It is a good idea to check if your car has limited kilometres so you don't get any nasty surprises at the end of your rental. In locations like the Northern Territory, rental cars often have limited mileage allowances. 

You should also check be aware of the vehicle's fuel tank size before leaving the depot if you are travelling long distances. In remote parts of Australia, petrol stations can be difficult to find, and you don't want to get caught out on outback highways. Make sure you know what type of fuel your rental car takes as well. 

Book your holiday car rental early to avoid missing out

A lot of people leave renting a car to the last minute. During peak periods, particularly the holiday season, this is a bad idea. If you show up to the depot during this time be prepared to be told that there are no more vehicles available. Popular holidays like Easter and Christmas see many customers booking rental cars. If you want to travel at this time, book as early as possible to get the best price. 

Always read the terms and conditions

While some people may skim over the terms and conditions, it is best not to do this as there is important information about what is and isn't allowed with your rental car. For example, some roads or regions may be strictly off limits. There can also be restrictions if you are driving a vehicle outside of certain hours in regional areas, where the risk of hitting animals is higher. If you break the terms and conditions, you may be liable to pay the full damage costs. 

The daily rate may be lower for longer rental periods

Weekly rates for a rental car may be lower than the daily rate, meaning you could save money if you keep your car over seven days. Always check if you can save money by keeping your car for the full week. 

Pay attention to the pick-up and drop-off times, as even adding an extra hour onto your request could result in you paying for the full extra day. Car rental rates are measured in 24-hour periods. 

Bring all of the correct identification documents with you to the depot

In some cases, your booking confirmation and driving licence may not be enough. This is particularly relevant if you are renting a car in another country, where you may also be required to show your passport or travel documents. If you have a foreign licence and you are renting a car in Australia, you may also need an International Driving Permit. 

Check the vehicle for pre-existing damage

Take some time before you leave the depot to check the car for pre-existing damage. To avoid any disputes, it is also a good idea to take photos or video so you have proof of the car's condition. If you find any damage on the car that is not listed on the rental report, make sure you inform a representative of the company before you leave. 

You may not need to purchase the excess reduction products offered at the counter

It is important that you have insurance for your rental car so you can avoid paying any damage fees, but if you have existing rental vehicle excess insurance, you may not need to purchase additional products from the car rental company. Purchasing insurance in advance can also save you money, as car rental excess reduction products sold at the counter are often more expensive. Click here to find out more.

Beware of one-way fees and other additional charges

One-way bookings can be quite expensive, particularly in Australia where the distances between cities can be quite large. In some cases, the car rental company may not permit their vehicles to be dropped in different states. Optional extras can also add quite a bit of money onto your bill. You may find it cheaper to bring your own child seat or navigation device, rather than requesting a baby seat or GPS from the car rental company. Check out our baby seat page for more information. VroomVroomVroom allows you to cancel with zero charges, which means you can book and cancel at anytime. 

For even more tips to avoid being ripped off when renting a car, see our blog post