Renting a car looks different depending on what phase of life you are in. With nostalgia I recall renting a convertible on my honeymoon in Kuai, zipping through the mountains with the top down carefree. What a contrast to my family’s last trip to Maui with two toddlers in tow, the priority was finding the safest, least glamorous vehicle on the car rental lot to navigate the winding road to Hana.
4 Things to Know When Renting a Car:
1. What kind of vehicle do you need?
Like my story above, a convertible with a family of four and two giant car seats would not make practical or financial sense. Will you be using the car sparingly, or will you be driving all over (making a fuel-efficient vehicle an optimum choice)? Once you narrow down your activities, that will help you determine the type of vehicle you need so that you can be more specific when searching for a deal.
2. Finding a good deal:
Brian Newell from USAA’s Alliance services offered some insights into what is available for USAA Members.
a. The USAA Rental Car Comparison tool helps you narrow the search by car type, location/airport, driver age and price through Hertz, Avis, Budget and Enterprise.
b. The USAA Car Rental program is a free member perk and provides additional rental benefits. It is enhanced when the rental is paid with a USAA Credit Card.
c. Read the fine print- make sure the cost includes the “extras”. This includes the gas policy. For example: How will they charge you for gas used? How much will they charge to fill the car up upon return?
3. Unexpected Fees:
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Additional driver fee: Make sure to be upfront about who will be driving the vehicle. When renting through USAA, this fee is waived for spouses and USAA family members who also will drive the car.
Under-age driver fee : USAA has negotiated with the rental car companies participating in the USAA Rental Car Program to waive the Under-age driver fee for our military servicemen and women. Specifically, those going to military schooling such as trade schools and military academies.
Avis: $27 per day for Young Driver- This fee is waived for 18- to 24-year-olds.
Budget: $27 per day for Young Driver-This fee is waived for 18- to 24-year-olds.
Enterprise: $20 per day for Young Driver- This fee is waived for 21- to 24-year-olds.
Hertz: $30 per day for Young Driver- This fee is waived for 18- to 24-year-olds.
4. What do the insurance options mean for me?
Do I need additional coverage from the rental agency or does my USAA car insurance cover me? Check your own auto policy for details on rental coverage and check your credit card policies too, some credit card programs also offer rental-car insurance coverage if used when paying for the rental. Brian Newell from USAA’s Alliance services says, “Many members don’t realize between their USAA Auto insurance and USAA American Express® or USAA VISA® credit card and booking through the USAA Car Rental Program, additional rental insurance purchased through the rental agency could be unnecessary expenses. We encourage all members to take advantage of these additional coverage benefits provided by USAA as part of our value of membership.” In terms of other administrative fees, loss-of-use fee or other costs the rental car company may charge, be sure to check with the individual carrier for details.
So, whether you are looking for a family mini-van rental or a vacation splurge like a convertible, how do you find the best deals on a rental car?
About the Blogger: Briana Hartzell is a Navy spouse, mother to two beautiful girls (5 and 3 years), a former full time USAA employee and a graduate of Texas A&M University. Briana writes at Being Briana, a blog focused on the joys that military life and parenthood can bring.
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Additional and underage driver fees waived (18-24 Hertz, 21-24 Avis, Budget and Enterprise). Waived fees vary but typical average value on Non USAA rental fees charged.
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