Before renting a car:

  • Ask what the total cost will be after all fees are included.There may be an airport surcharge or drop-off fees, insurance fees, fuel charges, mileage fees, taxes, additional-driver fees, under aged-driver fees, and equipment rental fees (for items such as ski racks and car seats). See information on drip pricing.
  • Ask whether the rental company checks the driving records of customers when they arrive at the counter. If so, you could be rejected even if you have a confirmed reservation.
  • Check in advance to be sure you aren't duplicating insurance coverage. If you're traveling on business, your employer might have insurance that covers accidental damage to the vehicle. You might also have coverage through your personal auto insurance, a motor club membership, or the credit card you used to reserve the rental.
  • Carefully inspect the vehicle and its tires before renting and when you return it. Try to return the car during regular hours so you and the rental staff can look at the car together to verify that you didn't damage it.
  • Check refueling policies and charges. Some rental companies, particularly at airports, may refuel within a 10 mile radius of the airport or show a fuel receipt when you return the car.
  • Pay with a credit card rather than a debit card, to avoid holds on other funds in your checking account.
  • Ask the rental company if a deposit is required. If so, ask for a clear explanation of the deposit refund procedures.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has more information about renting a car and the insurance options.

Some state laws cover short-term car and truck rentals. Contact your state or local consumer protection office for information or to file a complaint.