If you want a better deal on car rental, you will have to look a bit further than the first car rental company that pops up in a Google search. A little research and knowing some of the tricks used by traditional car rental companies will help you save money. Alternatively, there are peer-to-peer car rental companies that provide all-inclusive pricing and can get you into a better car for less money. It’s a pretty smart option. You can rent a late model car owned by a corporate fleet that is currently excess to their requirements and make significant savings.

There are a few things to look out for when renting from a traditional car rental company and how to avoid any surprises.

Understand the real cost
The daily price for a car from a traditional car rental company might seem reasonable at first, but you’ll often find that unforeseen charges added to your bill bump the price up quite a lot. Prices at some locations nearly double when necessary extras, like insurance, admin fees and more are included. Make sure you base your decision on the total cost, not the just the advertised rate. Make sure you read the terms and conditions and are aware of what your rental fee includes or does not include.

Insurance
While it’s reasonable to assume that insurance is included in the standard rental rate, many companies apply a damage liability of up to $5,000 which you will need to pay in the event of an accident. They may offer the opportunity to reduce the damage liability but the cost per day is often more than the daily rental cost, which more than doubles the quoted price. Look for a reasonable damage liability charge and a low daily fee to reduce it.
Base your decision on the total rate, not just the advertised rate.

Premium location fees
If you’re renting a car from a convenient or premium location such as airports, you may be charged an extra fee for the privilege of collecting the vehicle from this location. The charge can be as high as 29% and is added to the total cost, not just the base rate.

Beware of false discounts
Many of the traditional car rental companies offer discounts that are supposed to reduce their high fees but when you read the fine print, the discounts only apply to the base rate, not the total price so the discount is probably a lot less than it seems.

Extra hire costs
If you need any extras for your rental like a GPS system or a baby seat, some traditional car rental companies charge a fee. Make sure to check before you lock anything in and consider sourcing them yourself to save money.
Premium location fees can be as high as 29% of the total cost – not just the base rate.

Want to rent long term?
Long term car rental can provide much more flexibility than buying or leasing a car. Not all car rental firms like to rent cars for longer periods. They may charge you more or make you constantly return the car and swap if for another one. Try searching for ‘long term car rental’ on Google.

Administration fees
Many traditional car rental companies charge what’s called an administration fee, commonly 3-4 per cent on top of the total cost. This fee changes based on the type of insurance you choose, whether you’re renting any extras, how you booked and whether you’re using the agency’s e-tag and more. Also look out for registration recovery charges and other random fees.

Get an accurate quote
How do you work out the real price you will pay as opposed to the price that comes up when you look at a website? Firstly, don’t just rely on website prices. There is always fine print attached to the prices. Call or email the rental company, give them your exact requirements and ask for a written quote, including any mandatory fees. Print this out and present it when you pick up your car; many businesses will abide by their own quotes if you are stern. The person at the desk often earns a commission on the total price charged, they’d prefer to earn something than let your car hire go to one of their competitors.
If all of the above sounds like too much hassle, check out non-traditional (peer to peer) rental companies rather than just relying on the big names. They often have a wider range of vehicles, in more locations and can be a lot cheaper, especially for long term rentals.

Search for cars at DriveMyCar.com.au and rent a better car for less money.