Top 4 things to know before renting a car for business

Happy Mother’s Day! Hopefully you are all relaxing and doing nice things for your mother, or having nice things done for you if 5-11-14-2you are a mother. I’ve spent a delightful morning playing outside with the Mini Warrior while the Home Warrior made brunch. Fun times!

For a new business traveler, renting a car can be incredibly stressful. Most people have flown before landing a job with travel, but the same is not necessarily true of renting cars. My first time to rent a car was on my first business trip, which was on my first day of a new job. My flight was delayed, I was frazzled, and I didn’t know what to say about the gas or the insurance options. And when I got to the booth to check out, it turned out I was in the wrong car. Sigh. So here are a few things to know before renting a car for the first time for work.

Tolls. In many locations, tolls are a way of life. Know before you drive off if the rental company has a device to pay for tolls and then send you a bill. Many do but not all. Off the top of my head I know Hertz, National, and Budget usually have those.

Where is insurance coming from? Know what your company’s policy on rental insurance is before your trip. My company has a policy in place, so we are only supposed to take rental insurance when traveling internationally. Alas, I didn’t know that on my first trip, took the insurance option, then had to pay it out of pocket. Boo.

Know gas policies. Most car rental companies allow you to prepay for a tank of gas. Otherwise you have to fill it up yourself prior to returning, or pay double the per gallon rates for them to fill it up. Many employers will prefer one or the other.

GPS. We depend on it a lot, but GPS doesn’t always work. For new places make sure you have directions just in case.

And a bonus: Don’t leave stuff. It sounds obvious (and probably is) but double check for phones, chargers, and other small stuff. I left a curling iron in a rental car, realized it within ten minutes, and when I checked it was already gone. Would have been really bad with something important!

Renting a car for the first time on a business trip can be stressful, but if you know the answers to a few things ahead of time it will go much more smoothly.

Readers, what do you think first time renters need to know? Any crazy car rental stories?

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  1. I always try to take note of a gas station near the airport when leaving so that I can top off the tank easily when returning. Trying to find a station when hurrying to your return flight can be surprisingly problematic at some airports.

  2. VG, good point. I try to do the same.

    I don’t have advice here, but I wanted to add: Just like the old Seinfeld episode, having a car rental reservation does not mean you will have a car. Twice now I have gone to the rental counter to pick up a car (with a reservation) and … there were no cars available. The first time, I waited about ½ hour. The second time (Atlanta, a month or so ago), the line was about 2 hours long, and the “helpful” agent trolling the line said that it was unlikely that there would be cars available at all. After panicking, i walked from rental counter to rental counter, finally finding an available car at maybe the 4th one. Scary!

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