So you have your flights sorted and your preferred sized car booked and paid for. I only use a search engine called Rental Cars now because they have consistently been the best value for the last 5 years or so. They also offer a price match which they honour even against their own rentals.
Tip: Decide how many drivers your party actually need. If one brave soul decides to be the only driver then it will save money because you are not adding any additional drivers to the contract. Additional drivers can be upwards of $9.99 per person per day.
Tip: If you are a young driver i.e under 25 years of age you will pay a supplement of $25 per day on the rental.
Tip: Look for offers in the results page such as free GPS (Sat Nav) or up to 4 drivers and free tank of petrol. The price will be more than the rental for 1 driver but cheaper than adding all the extras on to the contract.
Tip: Insurance for the car hire can add up so look carefully at the options presented to you. All rentals come with a basic CDW (collision damage waver) and theft protection, local taxes, location surcharges (extra charges at certain airports to pay for the shuttle vans to the rental station) and unlimited mileage. Rental Cars allow free amendments up until 48 hours before departure. Extra insurance packages can be prepaid for and include roadside breakdown, towing & impound fees, key loss & lockouts, loss of use fees etc. and this can be about £8 per day. It might also appear as an upgrade to a Silver or Gold rental package.
Tip: One thing that has been a feature of my road trips has been having to return the rental car back to the same airport. The only states that allow one way rentals are California and Florida. Everywhere else has a one way rental surcharge which is now I believe $250. I know not everyone will be bothered about this but I think it adds an unnecessary expense to the travel plans.
Tip: Research your route from the airport to your first nights accommodation and print it out. If you have your own USA maps in a Sat Nav it might take a while to find the satellites or fail altogether so having a print out with step by step instructions is a good back up.
Tip: Check requirements for child seats and the extra cost to rent a seat for the duration of the rental.
Tip: Cash nor debit cards will be accepted to rent a car and any charge against a credit card will be advised at time of rental.
Tip: Documents needed to collect your car are valid driving licence, passport and it is worth printing out the code to allow access to your driving licence in case the rental company needs to check the status of your licence. Code for sharing your driving record Having mentioned that I have never been asked for it.
Tip: Fuel options can be confusing but if you don’t have a free tank of fuel in the contract you have to agree at time of rental if you are going to return the car empty or full. If you return it empty you will be charged for a full tank of fuel which I am assured is the average price in the local area and is shown on a board behind the rental counter. If you agree to return it full you have to provide a receipt from a petrol station within 10 minutes of the rental station.
Tip: Remember that the agent at the rental counter earns for commission for up selling any extras at time of the rental. Please be careful about what you sign for. I have come unstuck when I have just signed the electronic pad without concentrating on the contents. Also if you decline the toll tag and you activate it by driving through an auto toll and triggering the transponder the charge is horrendous. So if you want to avoid tolls follow the Sat Nav to the letter.
This list isn’t exhaustive but what I have experienced over the years. Choose a car that is practical for the size of the party or select the cabriolet you have always wanted to drive but whatever you choose let’s get going!