Many Estonians as well as foreigners planning to spend their summer vacation in Estonia or abroad like to use rental cars as these are a convenient method for ensuring mobility. However, you should pay attention to potential extra costs related to rental.
Below is a list of major and expensive common mistakes accompanied by tips for avoiding these.
- Additional insurance. Many rental companies offer additional insurance options. The insurance options vary across countries and in some cases your personal insurance might cover certain aspects for which the rental companies charge extra. Plus, when using a credit card to make a booking, various additional insurances might apply. So, the first step would be reviewing your own insurance cover, and the cover of the credit card insurance, in case you use a credit card. Further, you should compare the rental conditions of different rental companies as the deductible alone could vary even fourfold or fivefold for an equivalent vehicle.
- Renting from an airport. One of the most expensive alternatives is renting a vehicle right from the airport. We recommend considering the offers of companies located away from airports. This doesn’t always imply an additional burden because many companies are happy to pick you up at the airport with some charging extra for this while others don’t. Plus, you can avoid the hectic hassle that airports are known for.
- Neglecting your homework. The offers and terms and conditions of rental companies vary greatly, so it would be wise to make some background research instead of grabbing the first offer and making the booking. You can always use Google and price comparison sites to find good offers available at your destination, plus you might find all sorts of bonus codes.
If you are planning to take a longer trip with your rental vehicle, you should always check whether the rental company applies a daily mileage limit and the surcharge imposed for exceeding it. In this context, you should carefully compare the prices of companies who have no mileage limitation, because taking advantage of the first bargain subject to a mileage limitation could lead to a situation where the total payable for the entire rental period is higher than what you would have paid to a rental company which applies no such limitation.
- Prepaying for fuel or returning the vehicle with an empty tank. Prepaying for fuel could seem convenient at first, but you should keep in mind that in that case every litre normally costs more than you would have paid when refuelling the vehicle yourself. Further, if you return the vehicle with an empty tank, many companies charge more per litre than when you would have paid at the gas station after refuelling the vehicle yourself, plus you could face an additional fixed surcharge for refuelling. It is true that no-one would like to refuel whilst in a hurry to catch a plane or boat, but this is exactly why you should plan this little aspect of your trip which seems irrelevant at first. Then again, you can disregard these tips, if you can afford it.
- Paying for a navigation device and a baby/booster seat. Rental companies love to charge extra for renting additional equipment like a navigation device or a baby/booster seat. However, this extra cost could amount to dozens of euros. Therefore, it would be wise to consider replacing the navigation device with a smartphone which has a GPS function, or select a vehicle with an integrated navigation device, or ask around to see if some of your friends could lend you a navigation device for your trip. The old-fashioned way would be printing out the map or directions, but who would bother going through such hassle these days!
Several airlines allow transporting baby/booster seats free of charge so you can carry your own instead of paying a surcharge to the rental company.
- Accepting the rental vehicle hastily. You may think that rental companies play fair, the car has been previously inspected, and the companies inform you of any defects that are present. Unfortunately, there are unfair traders on the market who later force you to pay for damage you have not caused, or fair ones who failed to notice the damage caused by the previous customer and simply charge you for such damage as someone has to pay for it. Point out to the agent all the damage in the passenger compartment and on the bodywork that you can find because even the smallest defect could get you in trouble later on.
- Returning the vehicle late. Most rental companies work on the basis of a 24-hour period, and some allow a delay of up to 29 minutes. However, if you are late, you might face a rental charge for an additional day. Carefully plan the day when you intend to return the vehicle so as to avoid such extra cost.
We hope that these seven points help some customers avoid extra expenses and draw their attention to certain aspects. You can plan your travel budget carefully, but if the budget includes only the regular charge for renting a car over a certain period, it would be wise to learn the terms and conditions so that the actual rental cost would be as budgeted.
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