Car Rental, Travel Tips

10 things every traveller should know about the car rental industry

Renting a car can get you to a lot of places that buses and trains do not go, this time to a faraway road in Western Cape, South Africa

During my time as a travel agent I have gotten a much bigger understanding of how the car rental industry works, and I have decided to share some of the things that I would consider “must knows” for people planning to rent a car:
  • It is a known fact that most car rental companies make most of their money not from renting out the cars, but from buying discounted cars from suppliers, and selling them used just after a few months. Rental agencies will also ALWAYS try to upsell insurance, fuel and upgrades which can be expensive to buy at the car rental agency.
  • People working at the car rental agency might not remember all SIPP codes or terms for the contracts of the agency/broker you bought it from, and might therefore offer you a product you have already paid for (e.g insurance of extra drivers). It is advised to bring your voucher so that they can see exactly what you have paid for and whatnot. 
  • Using a car broker (e.g Auto Europe) can be good as some offer refundable access which means that if you get charged by the rental agency, you can just collect receipts and supporting documentation (police report for not DUI-ing) and send this in to the broker and have them refund the excess you paid to the rental company
  • Using an agent to book can also be a good idea. They usually have negotiated contracts with the car rental companies, which might including one way fees, additional drivers, fuel and insurances which will make it cheaper than booking the car online. 
  • When picking up a car you should make sure you have a credit card with a high enough limit to keep as a deposit for the rental. Sometimes these amounts can be up to 5000 dollars and this money will be blocked and can not be used before you hand in the car
  • You should not overestimate the size of a rental car. Search for images online and make sure that the car you book will be big enough for your use. It is much more expensive to upgrade to a bigger car at the pickup location thank booking a bigger car in the first place.
  • For smaller rental companies it is advised to do a quick check online to find more information about the rental company or office before booking your car. Doing a quick search online will reveal if there are any reoccurring problems with the office or company where you will rent your car. 
  • The most important thing to look for in a contract should be the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) to check what the deductible access is for your rental. 
  • When picking up and returning a car you can never check too carefully for scratches and damages. I was recenty a victim of a Hertz case myself where I was charged around a thousand euros for a small scratch I did not do.
These are just general things to know about the car rental industry, and are not related to any countries as this would make the post way too long. So instead of making this list ten times as long I will try to write more destination specific post later as I travel and discover more about car rental in different countries.