Car renting

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gurusw
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Car renting

Post by gurusw » Sat Oct 12, 2019 1:54 pm

Hi,

I am planning a vacation within USA for about a week, and need to rent a car. This topic has been discussed many times, but the information is scattered, adn this is my attempt to bring it together and personalize for myself.

There are three factors I am considering:

1. Rating of the car rental company
I checked the google rating of the car rental companies off the airport where I am flying.
Top three were:
National - 4.4 rating / 1320 reviews
Alamo - 4.4 rating / 741 reviews
Enterprise - 4.2 rating / 1664 reviews

2. Cost of rental
I found Costco rental to be the cheapest than the websites or search engines. Below are the cost-wise rankings in ascending order:
1. Alamo
2. Enterprise
3. Avis or Budget (depending on the car class)

Looks like the winner is Alamo depending on these 2 factors.

3. Insurance
I am going to use Chase Freedom card for car booking. According to their website, looks like they will cover the reimbursement for damage due to collision or theft.
https://www.chase.com/card-benefits/ben ... condary_v1
When I go to download the detailed policy, the front page says "Visa Platinum". I am not sure whether Freedom is Visa Platinum card.

I have Geico insurance. According to their website FAQs, looks like my policy is extended to rental cars.

Geico FAQ: Does my auto policy cover a rental car for vacation / pleasure?
Yes. The comprehensive, collision, and liability coverages on your auto policy will extend to the rental car (at the same limits/deductibles that you currently carry) provided the following conditions are met:

• The rental period is 30 days or fewer
• The rental is a private passenger vehicle ?

• The rental is used for personal use in the United States, Canada, or U.S. Possessions ?

• The rental is rented in your and/or your spouse's or eligible partner's name
• The rental is being operated by you, your spouse/eligible partner or other relatives in your household and the operator is an authorized driver on the rental contract
Important Notes:
• You do not need to purchase the Collision Deductible Waiver ?
from the rental agency; however, in the event of a loss to the rental car, you will be responsible for paying your policy's collision deductible.
• The expenses to rent a car would not be reimbursed by GEICO.
-----
  • My question is, for insurance, do I need to explain anything about insurance situation when I pick up my car? i.e. do I have to explicitly state whether the insurance is covered by Geico or Chase?
  • The website address that I listed above does not explicitly state that this insurance is for Chase Freedom. Do I need to get a formal letter from Chase?
  • Do I need to get formal letter from Geico?
  • In case of damage / theft, what should I actually use? Credit card insurance or Geico insurance?
  • Anything else that I am missing, or need to know?
Thanks in advance.

Flyer24
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Re: Car renting

Post by Flyer24 » Sat Oct 12, 2019 2:15 pm

Here was my experience. I had a vehicle vandalism incident of my rental car. My personal auto insurance paid for the claim. The Chase Freedom card (which is secondary insurance) covered the deductible. Make sure to keep your personal auto insurance card with you to show that you have coverage.

Topic Author
gurusw
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Re: Car renting

Post by gurusw » Sat Oct 12, 2019 2:24 pm

Flyer24 wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 2:15 pm
Here was my experience. I had a vehicle vandalism incident of my rental car. My personal auto insurance paid for the claim. The Chase Freedom card (which is secondary insurance) covered the deductible. Make sure to keep your personal auto insurance card with you to show that you have coverage.
Thanks for the advice.

Arpek
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Re: Car renting

Post by Arpek » Sat Oct 12, 2019 2:33 pm

Where in the USA? Take a look at Zipcar; they cover insurance and gas

Cheers

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TexasPE
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Re: Car renting

Post by TexasPE » Sat Oct 12, 2019 5:57 pm

Give Autoslash a try

https://www.autoslash.com/quote/pickup-location

It checks all the major rental car companies at your pick-up point, typically saves me $30+ per trip and will monitor your reservation for price drops.
At 20: I cared what everyone thought about me | At 40: I didn't give a damn what anyone thought of me | Now that I'm 60: I realize that no one was really thinking about me at all | Winston Churchill (?)

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Car renting

Post by RickBoglehead » Sat Oct 12, 2019 6:18 pm

gurusw wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 1:54 pm
  • My question is, for insurance, do I need to explain anything about insurance situation when I pick up my car? i.e. do I have to explicitly state whether the insurance is covered by Geico or Chase?
. No. Simply decline their coverage.
  • The website address that I listed above does not explicitly state that this insurance is for Chase Freedom. Do I need to get a formal letter from Chase?
. No.
  • Do I need to get formal letter from Geico?
No.
  • In case of damage / theft, what should I actually use? Credit card insurance or Geico insurance?
. GEICO is primary, Chase is secondary.
  • Anything else that I am missing, or need to know?
Thanks in advance.
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.

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dratkinson
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Re: Car renting

Post by dratkinson » Sat Oct 12, 2019 6:38 pm

Rent-A-Wreck.

In a prior life, 4 of us younger guys rented an old/huge/gas-guzzler 6-passenger sedan for cheap while working for a week in Colorado Springs. Recalled restrictions were: (1) we had to stay in local area and (2) were not allowed to drive up Pike's Peak---14K feet up, brake failure on way down.

When our boss came out and we added him to the carpool, he wanted to know why we had not rented a newer/better vehicle. Told him we'd rent any vehicle he paid for. End of discussion.

Recall the cost of the rental+gas, split 4 ways, was ~$5/day.
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neilpilot
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Re: Car renting

Post by neilpilot » Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:04 pm

Airport rentals usually include additional fees when compared to the same rental company's off-site rates. For example, I recently rented from Enterprise off-airport and paid $238. The same Enterprise car at the airport was $328.

This was in the UK, but the same thing happens in the USA. When my wife recently rented a car off airport in Phoenix, the rate was significantly low than at the airport. More than paid for the Lyft RT to/from the airport. If you happen to be visiting friends or relatives, then transportation to an off-airport rental maybe very easy.

increment
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Re: Car renting

Post by increment » Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:21 pm

neilpilot wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:04 pm
When my wife recently rented a car off airport in Phoenix, the rate was significantly low[er] than at the airport. More than paid for the Lyft RT to/from the airport. If you happen to be visiting friends or relatives, then transportation to an off-airport rental maybe very easy.
Christopher Elliott recently wrote in the Washington Post about an appalling new practice in certain areas: "Consider what happened to Art Kraus in Salt Lake City recently. When he arrived at a downtown location to pick up a rental vehicle, an Enterprise representative said he would have to declare whether he’d flown into Salt Lake City. If he answered yes, he’d have to pay an 11 percent fee in addition to the $322 rental charge."

neilpilot
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Re: Car renting

Post by neilpilot » Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:24 pm

increment wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:21 pm
neilpilot wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:04 pm
When my wife recently rented a car off airport in Phoenix, the rate was significantly low[er] than at the airport. More than paid for the Lyft RT to/from the airport. If you happen to be visiting friends or relatives, then transportation to an off-airport rental maybe very easy.
Christopher Elliott recently wrote in the Washington Post about an appalling new practice in certain areas: "Consider what happened to Art Kraus in Salt Lake City recently. When he arrived at a downtown location to pick up a rental vehicle, an Enterprise representative said he would have to declare whether he’d flown into Salt Lake City. If he answered yes, he’d have to pay an 11 percent fee in addition to the $322 rental charge."
That's a surprise. When we rented from Enterprise last month, they knew we flew in (we volunteered that, they didn't ask). Didn't matter; we still saved. We're off to SLC in a few months, so I'll keep that in mind.

criticalmass
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Re: Car renting

Post by criticalmass » Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:22 pm

neilpilot wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:24 pm
increment wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:21 pm
neilpilot wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:04 pm
When my wife recently rented a car off airport in Phoenix, the rate was significantly low[er] than at the airport. More than paid for the Lyft RT to/from the airport. If you happen to be visiting friends or relatives, then transportation to an off-airport rental maybe very easy.
Christopher Elliott recently wrote in the Washington Post about an appalling new practice in certain areas: "Consider what happened to Art Kraus in Salt Lake City recently. When he arrived at a downtown location to pick up a rental vehicle, an Enterprise representative said he would have to declare whether he’d flown into Salt Lake City. If he answered yes, he’d have to pay an 11 percent fee in addition to the $322 rental charge."
That's a surprise. When we rented from Enterprise last month, they knew we flew in (we volunteered that, they didn't ask). Didn't matter; we still saved. We're off to SLC in a few months, so I'll keep that in mind.
The article refers to the government fees. Often time the off-airport location have a lower rate, so you save even if the inflated airport government fees follow you downtown. Still, as much as possible I'm going to avoid locales that force you to declare your travel methods that are out of scope of the rental period.

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jeffyscott
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Re: Car renting

Post by jeffyscott » Sun Oct 13, 2019 9:57 am

I would pay 0 attention to those ratings. Each location and each employee you deal with is going to be different and I doubt that there are any significant differences in the policies of the major rental car companies that are available via Costco. If the area you are in has tolls, that would be only thing that I can think of to check into for possible differences among them.

The cheapest one is going to vary depending on when and where renting. At the same location and same time of year, Budget was cheapest for us last year and this year Alamo is cheapest (at least so far).

If you tried the autoslash thing that was mentioned, you will need to do more checking on the company policies and they do seem to offer some less reputable companies that I would avoid.

For the ones offered by Costco, I think they all have some way to check in in advance, which allows you to reject insurance and other add-ons, skipping the counter and the possible insurance related scare tactics that some engage in there. With Budget it was a matter of signing up for "Fastbreak" with Alamo, it appears you can just check in online in advance for a specific rental.
Time is your friend; impulse is your enemy. - John C. Bogle

Topic Author
gurusw
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Re: Car renting

Post by gurusw » Sun Oct 13, 2019 3:22 pm

Thanks all.

The rating that I have posted is for the specific location I'm travelling to.

The advantage with Costco rental is that I can add a second driver for free. Otherwise I'll end up paying extra $10-15/day.

So altogether my savings are going above $100.

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Car renting

Post by RickBoglehead » Sun Oct 13, 2019 3:31 pm

If you haven't rented from Enterprise before, they operate differently than other companies. Two big differences:

- Gas tank is usually only partially full, and you have to return it at least that full.

- The "location" that you rent from, especially off-airport, may in fact not have any cars for you. They'll drive you to another location for a car.

Rented in April in California. Had to drive 15 minutes to another location when I could have just gone there to begin with. And that car had a warning light on the entire time.

I try to avoid Enterprise like the plague.
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.

Lalamimi
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Re: Car renting

Post by Lalamimi » Sun Oct 13, 2019 3:35 pm

We have used Costco several times. In Hawaii it was Enterprise, had to walk a ways to their office from our cruise ship. They were deceitful, added coverage we did not want. (did get it back).
In Las Vegas, it was Avis, and they were fine. We even got a $25 Costco card as I recall.
We used Alamo in the 1980s and they charged us for everything (first time renters).
We have even used Hotwire site in Florida for a great deal.
Good luck.

SR II
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Re: Car renting

Post by SR II » Sun Oct 13, 2019 3:45 pm

gurusw wrote:
Sun Oct 13, 2019 3:22 pm
Thanks all.

The rating that I have posted is for the specific location I'm travelling to.

The advantage with Costco rental is that I can add a second driver for free. Otherwise I'll end up paying extra $10-15/day.

So altogether my savings are going above $100.
By law, if you are renting a car in California, there isn't an extra charge for an additional driver (and they don't need to be a spouse) no matter the rental company, as long as they present themselves at the rental counter, qualify as a driver and are added to the rental agreement. Read more here (from autoslash.com):https://www.autoslash.com/blog-and-tips ... river-fees

Topic Author
gurusw
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Re: Car renting

Post by gurusw » Sun Oct 13, 2019 10:37 pm

I am renting in Texas.

Thanks for the warnings about Enterprise :)

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TexasPE
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Re: Car renting

Post by TexasPE » Mon Oct 14, 2019 7:18 am

jeffyscott wrote:
Sun Oct 13, 2019 9:57 am


If you tried the autoslash thing that was mentioned, you will need to do more checking on the company policies and they do seem to offer some less reputable companies that I would avoid.
I recommended Autoslash. It presents several rental company choices. For those who haven't tried Autoslash, I use Autoslash for two reasons

(1) it performs a meta search for discounts for you based on your personal association memberships (AARP, AAA, etc.), Credit Cards You Carry (including Visa Infinite, MasterCard World Elite, AMEX, etc), Frequent Flyer Programs, Frequent Car Renter Programs, and Warehouse Clubs (Costco, BJ's). I always choose one of the major rental car companies (not the cheapest) - Autoslash almost always finds a discount for one or more of my affiliations with a major company I trust. The reservation is made through Priceline, and can be canceled at any time. There is no deposit required, so you have zero liability.

(2) The Autoslash system will also track your reservation upon request for price drops as your travel day approaches and emails you a notice when a cheaper rate is found (in your reserved car class). You then decide whether the savings and rental car company are acceptable, make a new reservation and cancel the old one. Priceline stores your reservations - you can do additional searches for different car classes to balance price vs convenient (lowest cost vs desired car class).

I've received some amazing deals from major rental car companies - San Francisco (National-Compact) at $9.95 per day, Las Vegas (Hertz-Intermediate SUV) at $12 per day [not including airport surcharge].
At 20: I cared what everyone thought about me | At 40: I didn't give a damn what anyone thought of me | Now that I'm 60: I realize that no one was really thinking about me at all | Winston Churchill (?)

02nz
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Re: Car renting

Post by 02nz » Mon Oct 14, 2019 7:35 am

Don't overthink the differences between the majors. The three companies you listed are actually the same company (and may, depending on location, be using the same fleet of cars).

CrazyCatLady
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Re: Car renting

Post by CrazyCatLady » Mon Oct 14, 2019 7:36 am

If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve it provides primary rental car coverage, so you would probably want to use that card instead. That way you bypass your insurance for damage to the car. I think the Sapphire Preferred has the same coverage.

As others have said, it can be significantly cheaper to rent off airport. The counter to that is if you rent at the airport they don't spend as much time looking for damage, so you are less likely to get charged for a scratch or small dent (from a shopping cart, not an accident).

Are you a member of any rental loyalty programs? I'm Hertz gold so I save a lot of time being able to just go get a car at the airport rather than having to stop at the check in desk first.

I personally hate Enterprise because they are anal about charging you for any little scratch. My SO, on the other hand, prefers Enterprise.

motorcyclesarecool
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Re: Car renting

Post by motorcyclesarecool » Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:41 am

The Dow component megacorp where I used to work had a screaming employee discount code with Hertz. It gave me a cheaper rate than I could find on Kayak, and for free it included the extra insurance that I never willingly buy on my own. Hertz cars tended to have higher mileage, but after joining #1 Club, I LOVED bypassing checkin and proceeding direct to my assigned car at my assigned space. I found Hertz customer service to be excellent.

Beware: many of the rental company offices are independent franchisees. One non-Hertz franchise locally is owned by a family who owns a questionably scrupulous tow truck company and also owns car washes and slummy apartments. They try to force their rental car customers to fuel up at their neighboring family-owned fuel station by making them present a receipt from there when they return the car. Corporate doesn’t seem to care. Read the local yelp reviews for the specific office you’re looking at.
Understand that choosing an HDHP is very much a "red pill" approach. Most would rather pay higher premiums for a $20 copay per visit. They will think you weird for choosing an HSA.

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jeffyscott
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Re: Car renting

Post by jeffyscott » Mon Oct 14, 2019 9:33 am

CrazyCatLady wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 7:36 am
As others have said, it can be significantly cheaper to rent off airport. The counter to that is if you rent at the airport they don't spend as much time looking for damage, so you are less likely to get charged for a scratch or small dent (from a shopping cart, not an accident).
Regarding damage, they also seem to do no checking for pre-existing damage at the time of pick-up? We sometimes forget to check for that at the airport pick-up, plus it is often in a dark parking structure. Last time I thought of it only when we got to the gate and the car had scratches and dings all over the place, not sure what might have happened had we just driven out without having the gate person mark-up the damage on the rental document. That was last year at FLL and for that same rental we had originally had off-airport pick-up that we booked early because it was about 1/2 the cost, but then when re-looking closer to our departure the rates had changed to the point where airport was cheaper or about the same as off-airport.

I also had one where we rented off-airport in and returned at SFO airport (at that time this avoided airport fees), the off-airport guy had noted some scratches. We turned it in at the airport without any issues and flew home, but then a month or more later the rental company tried to charge us for the damage. It was taken care of by telling them the damage was pre-existing as noted on the rental document. But this tells me that just because they do only a very cursory check at the airport and do not note anything, does not mean that you are in the clear for any small damage that they did not see at that time.
Time is your friend; impulse is your enemy. - John C. Bogle

CrazyCatLady
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Re: Car renting

Post by CrazyCatLady » Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:05 pm

jeffyscott wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 9:33 am
CrazyCatLady wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 7:36 am
As others have said, it can be significantly cheaper to rent off airport. The counter to that is if you rent at the airport they don't spend as much time looking for damage, so you are less likely to get charged for a scratch or small dent (from a shopping cart, not an accident).
Regarding damage, they also seem to do no checking for pre-existing damage at the time of pick-up? We sometimes forget to check for that at the airport pick-up, plus it is often in a dark parking structure. Last time I thought of it only when we got to the gate and the car had scratches and dings all over the place, not sure what might have happened had we just driven out without having the gate person mark-up the damage on the rental document. That was last year at FLL and for that same rental we had originally had off-airport pick-up that we booked early because it was about 1/2 the cost, but then when re-looking closer to our departure the rates had changed to the point where airport was cheaper or about the same as off-airport.

I also had one where we rented off-airport in and returned at SFO airport (at that time this avoided airport fees), the off-airport guy had noted some scratches. We turned it in at the airport without any issues and flew home, but then a month or more later the rental company tried to charge us for the damage. It was taken care of by telling them the damage was pre-existing as noted on the rental document. But this tells me that just because they do only a very cursory check at the airport and do not note anything, does not mean that you are in the clear for any small damage that they did not see at that time.
I've rented from several different airports (all Hertz) and they've never done a pre-check. If I notice something more than a small scratch or ding when I pick up the car, I always take a picture to show it was already there. I've never had a problem where I was charged for dents/dings, however. The one time I had a problem was in Phoenix when I rented off airport (they left it at the hotel for me) and I noticed a gauge/crack in the windshield. I took a picture and thought nothing of it. I returned the car to the airport and when I got my emailed receipt I was charged $150 for damage. I called and complained and luckily when they checked the local edition's records, it showed the crack, so I had the charge removed. It probably helps that I'm a frequent renter (presidents circle or 5-star every year).

That's a long way of saying that I agree it's not a guarantee you won't get charged for damage, but since the airports are busier they usually only do a cursory inspection once they get the car back and you are rarely charged for small marks. Bigger dents and cracked windshields are a different story.

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Stinky
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Re: Car renting

Post by Stinky » Mon Oct 14, 2019 9:06 pm

gurusw wrote:
Sun Oct 13, 2019 3:22 pm
Thanks all.

The rating that I have posted is for the specific location I'm travelling to.

The advantage with Costco rental is that I can add a second driver for free. Otherwise I'll end up paying extra $10-15/day.

So altogether my savings are going above $100.
I like Costco for car rentals. Good discounted prices over rack rates, second driver is free.

When I use Costco, I just pick the cheapest company. Lately it’s been Alamo, but it varies from time to time.
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fortfun
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Re: Car renting

Post by fortfun » Mon Oct 14, 2019 9:14 pm

Do you or your partner work for a largish employer? If so, you may get a hefty discount by using their corporate code. DW works for a largish university and we rent cars for about half the price of regular listed prices--just have to type in the corporate rate code.

Ztx
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Re: Car renting

Post by Ztx » Mon Oct 14, 2019 9:38 pm

My 2 cents:

- Agreed with the previous posters that there is not much difference between major rental companies. Those ratings are mostly meaningless unless the difference is more than 1-1.5 stars.
- I always take pictures of the car while still on the lot. In case there try to put previous damage on me I can prove it was already there (it saved me once already)
- credit card with primary rental coverage (such as Sapphire Reserve) is nice to have to avoid a hit on your personal insurance (and rentals CDW is extremely overpriced)

Edited to add:
- Costco frequently has much better deals than Expedia or rental company's website so check that first if you're a member

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Re: Car renting

Post by LadyGeek » Mon Oct 14, 2019 9:47 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (renting a car).
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jeffyscott
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Re: Car renting

Post by jeffyscott » Mon Oct 14, 2019 9:54 pm

CrazyCatLady wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:05 pm
The one time I had a problem was in Phoenix when I rented off airport (they left it at the hotel for me) and I noticed a gauge/crack in the windshield. I took a picture and thought nothing of it. I returned the car to the airport and when I got my emailed receipt I was charged $150 for damage. I called and complained and luckily when they checked the local edition's records, it showed the crack, so I had the charge removed.
Your comment reminded me that mine may have been Hertz also, and I confirmed that by searching old emails. Interesting that we both had this sort of issue when renting from a Hertz Local Edition and returning to an airport. Since I looked up the emails, I also see it was October when they attempted to bill us for a rental in July (in 2009).
Time is your friend; impulse is your enemy. - John C. Bogle

neilpilot
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Re: Car renting

Post by neilpilot » Mon Oct 14, 2019 11:45 pm

Ztx wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 9:38 pm
My 2 cents:

- Agreed with the previous posters that there is not much difference between major rental companies. Those ratings are mostly meaningless unless the difference is more than 1-1.5 stars.
- I always take pictures of the car while still on the lot. In case there try to put previous damage on me I can prove it was already there (it saved me once already)
- credit card with primary rental coverage (such as Sapphire Reserve) is nice to have to avoid a hit on your personal insurance (and rentals CDW is extremely overpriced)

Edited to add:
- Costco frequently has much better deals than Expedia or rental company's website so check that first if you're a member
You and others mention pictures to prove preexisting damage. However, I can easily set my phone at the date/time of rental and snap a photo of damage anytime prior to returning the car. So a photo, unless the damage is also disclosed on the paperwork at the time of pickup, is of questionable “proof”.

Ztx
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Re: Car renting

Post by Ztx » Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:36 am

neilpilot wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 11:45 pm
Ztx wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 9:38 pm
My 2 cents:

- Agreed with the previous posters that there is not much difference between major rental companies. Those ratings are mostly meaningless unless the difference is more than 1-1.5 stars.
- I always take pictures of the car while still on the lot. In case there try to put previous damage on me I can prove it was already there (it saved me once already)
- credit card with primary rental coverage (such as Sapphire Reserve) is nice to have to avoid a hit on your personal insurance (and rentals CDW is extremely overpriced)

Edited to add:
- Costco frequently has much better deals than Expedia or rental company's website so check that first if you're a member

You and others mention pictures to prove preexisting damage. However, I can easily set my phone at the date/time of rental and snap a photo of damage anytime prior to returning the car. So a photo, unless the damage is also disclosed on the paperwork at the time of pickup, is of questionable “proof”.
It worked for me once though. The damage was on the bottom of the bumper and I didn't even notice it at first. It's better than just my word vs their word.

Also, I take pictures so that it's clearly visible that the car is still in the rental parking lot.

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