Traditional car rental companies don’t always disclose all of the costs when you are booking a car online.  There are often mandatory fees or extra charges for  insurance which can double the price you expected to pay based.

The savvy car hirer needs to avoid the following traps:

Insurance
Read the terms and conditions very carefully; look closely at the excess or damage liability. This is the amount you will have to pay if you have an accident that is your fault . Some traditional car rental companies will leave you with the first $5000 to pay out of your own pocket. Buying additional insurance from the rental company to cover this gap can double your daily car hire fee. Look for a company that offers a low damage liability or a low daily fee to reduce it. It is often possible to extend your travel insurance to cover the damage liability.

Location fees
Where possible, take a taxi or public transport to the main pick up point for your car rental. Collecting your car from a premium location (usually somewhere convenient like the airport) can increase your fees substantially. If you are travelling in a group with a large amount of luggage, it might be practical to send one person out to get the car whilst the rest of the party wait with the luggage for collection. If you hope to drop off your car at a different location to the pickup, be prepared to pay an additional fee.

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Extra hire costs
Non-luxuries like an e-tag, GPS system or a baby seat can often incur a hefty extra fee when hired from a traditional car rental business. If might be cheaper to hire from another source (look online) or even buy an item like a baby seat from a large retailer rather than paying the routinely high hire fees for these items

Check for administration and other additional fees
Many traditional car rental companies charge what’s called an administration fee, commonly 3-4 per cent on top of the total cost. Also look out for registration recovery charges and other random fees. There is no room for negotiation online, so try to speak to a representative or customer service about having these charges waived; quite often the representatives would prefer to get your business and may be willing to reduce or negate these extras altogether to secure the booking.

Fuel
ALWAYS give yourself time to refill your car before you return it. Expect to pay above the odds on a refueling charge if you return the car with less than the agreed fuel level.

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Do your research
Make sure you compare not only the advertised price but also the total price. There can often be large differences. A lot of the traditional car rental companies change their prices based on the level of demand so if they are busy, prices may be higher.

Try an alternative  
Many individuals and companies are now bypassing traditional car rental companies and renting cars directly from private owners and corporate fleets via a peer-to-peer car rental service. The prices are often much lower, especially for long term car rental and they are more upfront about any fees. If you’re looking for a better car for less money, they may be the way to go.

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