Renting a car for your next vacation

From booking the hotel to researching restaurants, families can spend a lot of time planning the perfect vacation. Many times, renting a car can be the one aspect of a vacation that is overlooked.

Megan McCain and her family are flying to their spring break destination. Once they arrive, they’ll need to pick up their rental car.

“It was fairly easy. We went on the website and looked for a car that would fit five people with two car seats, so we needed a car with a third row,” said McCain.

Renting a car is a convenient option for many families, but it’s often an afterthought. Doing some legwork before you arrive at your vacation destination can really pay off.

“If your plans are pretty definite, prepaying is a really good option,” said Jeff Neiman of the Hertz Corporation. “You can save up to 20 percent if you prepay. Now, there could be a fee if you cancel, so that’s got to be a pretty firm plan.”

“When renting a car, shop around,” Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks said. “A lot of times people are picking up cars at the airport when they fly into their destination, but you might find it might be worth a cab ride to an off–site location because they might have lower fees.”

One common mistake consumers make when renting a car is failing to read the rental agreement before signing.

“Many times people rent cars over their vacation, but the last thing they want to do is read the details of the agreement when they’re on their way to having some fun, but it’s important,” added Hicks. “You need to understand what you’re responsible for with that car, what happens if it breaks down, what happens if you get into an accident, so you know exactly what your obligations are.”

“Treat it like it’s your own. What would you do if you got into an accident in your car? You’d report it to the authorities. You would come back and let the rental car company know and fill out an accident report and go from there,” said Neiman.

Determine your existing insurance coverage before you buy more. Rental car insurance can cost as much as $40 a day, and you may already be covered by your existing auto insurance policy or credit card.