Car Rental Services
Car rental services are a major aspect of the tourism and travel industry. Those who travel long distances generally use other forms of transport to get to their destination (plane, train, ferry, etc), then hire a car. Renting a car allows travelers to see what they want, when they want. For many people, the freedom, convenience and privacy offered by renting a car far outweighs such things as the hire cost and the hassle of driving on unfamiliar roads.
Rental cars are essential for most business people travelling away from home. Time, rather than money, is the main consideration for most business travelers, so they are likely to choose late model rental cars which are reliable, fast and comfortable. Tourists also place emphasis on comfort and reliability, but many also have budget constraints so they might be more likely to choose smaller or older vehicles.
Renting a camper van is a popular option for some tourists, especially among those who like to do their own thing, and travel off the beaten track. A camper van offers more flexibility than any other form of travelling – transport, accommodation and storage are all taken care of in one compact unit. If three or four people band together and share the cost it becomes a very cost-effective way to travel.
Before you pay a deposit on a rented car, it is essential to look at what services the company is offering. Services offered by different car rental companies can vary considerably from country to country and from one company to the next. Some will provide pick up and drop off services from places such as airports or hotels at no charge, while others will have their offices within the airports, transit stations, hotels etc.
Some offer better insurance packages than others. Some offer a network of locations throughout the area you are traveling in (hence, if you have a breakdown or some other difficulty, it is relatively easy to obtain assistance from another, nearby, office).
Some offer a greater selection of vehicles than others. Many will provide road maps, and advice on where to travel and stay, but this is not always the case. Some operate 24 hours a day, but others may only operate during restricted hours.
Most large, international firms will give reliable service and a good standard of vehicle. Smaller, local companies can offer great savings but standards can be highly variable.
The Rental Agreement
Always look carefully at the rental agreement. Find out exactly what is covered by the insurance policy. Find out whether your proposed route is acceptable to the rental firm. Some rental firms will not allow their vehicles to be driven in certain countries (for example, countries where car theft is a big problem), or on some roads (for example, roads which are unsealed, flood-prone, or considered dangerous).
Other things to find out about include:
- Tariffs – is the car hire charged on a daily or weekly rate? Is there an extra kilometre charge or ‘unlimited mileage’? An unlimited mileage rate, which has a greater time charge but no kilometre charge, is more economical for long-distance travel. Are there special offers available such as weekend rates, advance pre-paid discounts, free model upgrade, or fly-drive packages? Are there additional taxes to be paid? Are there different rates for low and high seasons?
- Minimal and maximum rental age – the minimum rental age is usually 21 years, but it can be 23 or even 25 years. A young driver surcharge may be applied. The maximum age is generally between 65 and 70 years.
- Insurance – does the rental firm offer an inclusive policy; if so, what does this cover? If an accident occurs, what is the excess payment? Do they offer Collision Damage Waiver which will cover repair costs? Does the policy provide theft protection? Will the driver and passengers have to take a separate accident insurance policy?
- Deposit – what does the deposit cover (e.g. insurance excess charge, refueling charge if the car is returned empty)? Most rental firms require the deposit to be paid by a major credit card at the time of rental.
- Petrol – the rate quoted normally includes a full tank of petrol. The car must be returned with a full tank of petrol.
- Additional services – what services are available and what rates are charged for those services; for example, one-way rental, returning to a different location, having the car delivered and collected from the client’s motel, adding another driver to the rental agreement, or ordering a baby seat or roof racks?
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