15 Tips to Save Cash and Sanity on Your Next Car Hire
Your Next Car Hire: Traveling throughout Australia can be quite the adventure. Whether you’re heading to the Outback for some time roughing it, or you’re bound for an urban center like Perth. However, understand that Australia is a big place, and many areas lack any sort of public transportation system.
It means that you will need your own vehicle to get around while you’re in the country. Of course, any car hire can be a stressful experience. Particularly if you are not prepared for the potential pitfalls. The tips below will help you save time, hassle, cash, and your sanity.
Read the Contract Thoroughly
First and foremost, make sure you read your contract thoroughly. This is your best chance for catching things that could cause you problems down the road, such as driving limits, requirements to sign a damage waiver, and other things that might cost you time or money.
If you are not entirely sure about something within the contract, make sure you ask the rental company for a full explanation. If that explanation does not make sense to you, or it seems predatory, do not be afraid to look for another car hire company. There are plenty of options throughout Australia, and there is no reason to be saddled with a poor rental provider.
Watch for Hidden Fees and Charges
Many car rental companies make the bulk of their profit from hidden charges and fees. These should be outlined in the contract – so make sure you read it, as we urged above – but the language used can make them seem like less of a threat to your budget than they really are. Always check for any fees that are not included in your daily rental rate. If possible, opt out of the services or features connected with those fees. In some cases, you may need to dispute their presence in your contract at all. And, as above, if the company is not willing to be transparent or won’t remove those hidden fees, find another car hire company.
Avoid Using Brokers
One of the most common issues encountered with car and truck hire in Australia is working with a travel broker. While brokers can be convenient for international travelers headed Down Under for some adventure, they can lead to complications.
The most common type of issue is in regards to pricing. What your broker advertises may not be what you are charged. Brokers are not known for maintaining up to date pricing. You might also book your car through a comparison site – these are also often inaccurate. Realise that your broker will likely not be able (or willing) to help if there is a pricing issue that causes you problems, and your contract is with the car hire company, not the broker.
Get It in Writing
Never assume that because you saw something in promotional literature, because your broker promised it, or because a sales clerk told you something, that it will be the truth. Misinformation is common and misunderstandings happen. Make sure you get everything pertinent to your car hire in writing.
Watch Out for an Excess Reduction or Collision Damage Waiver
When you go to hire your car, you will be asked if you would like to sign an excess reduction or collision damage waiver. Don’t do it. These are billed as being comprehensive insurance provisions, but they are actually not. They are simply legal contracts where the car hire company agrees not to hold you responsible for damage to the vehicle. However, you’ll still be on the hook for a good sum of money, plus you’ll have paid out for the waiver.
Use Your Own Insurance
It does not apply in all situations, but some international auto insurance companies will provide you with protection on your car hire in Australia. You will need to check with your insurer first, but if they do, this can save you a significant amount of cash.
Don’t Buy the Upgrade
While this is more prevalent in America than in Australia, it does happen from time to time. When you arrive at the car hire facility, you will be urged to hire a larger car. Often, the excuse given is that the boot is not large enough for your luggage. Don’t believe it. The upgrade is just another way that some car hire companies make extra profit.
Book Well in Advance to Save Cash
Do you want to save some money on your car hire? Book as far ahead as you possibly can. Car hire companies charge higher fees if you have little or no lead time. You can expect to save a significant amount of cash if you can book weeks, or even months, in advance.
Know the Fees for Extra Drivers
Many groups travel with more than one driver. This way, when one driver gets tired, the other can take over. Understand that this will cost you extra – every driver must be named at the time of car hire and you will need to pay a fee for each additional driver. Make sure you know how much that fee is.
Know the Costs of Hiring Child Seats
Parents or grandparents travelling with children young enough to need a child car seat should ask the rental company the cost of hiring child seats. In many cases, the cost is high enough to justify purchasing a child seat on your own, rather than hiring one with your car.
The Credit Card Used Must Be in the Primary Driver’s Name
Are you planning to pay for your car or truck hire with a credit card in the name of someone other than the primary driver? This is more common than you might think. For instance, parents traveling with adult children might opt to pay for the car hire, even though it is in their son or daughter’s name. Understand that this will incur additional fees. Always try to use a credit card in the name of the primary driver.
Know What Fuel Type the Car Takes
This tip is primarily for Americans traveling to Australia – check the fuel type of the rental car before you get too far down the road. In the US, petrol is more common than anything else. However, in Australia, there’s a good chance that you could be driving a diesel. Knowing what type of fuel your car hire takes will save you not just potential embarrassment, but high costs for engine repair if you attempt to run the car on the wrong type of fuel.
Get Photos of the Car before Leaving the Rental Office
One way that some car hire companies pad their profits is by claiming you caused damage when you did not. To help avoid this situation, use your smartphone to get photos of the car before you leave the facility. Make sure you to take photos of all four sides, as well as the roof. Repeat this process when you drop off the car. If the company attempts to charge you for damage to the car, you can show them the photos.
Don’t Pay the Rental Company for Fuel
Most car and truck hire companies will offer you a full-to-empty agreement, meaning that you will ostensibly have a full tank of petrol when you pick the car up, and you can return it on empty. Don’t take them up on the offer. There is a major mark-up, between 300 and 400%, when the car hire facility provides the fuel. Always refuel it yourself, and save your receipt in case the company tries to charge you for fuel.
Always Return Your Car During Business Hours
Finally, make sure that you return your car during business hours. Many car hire companies will offer an after-hours return capability. That sounds convenient, but it can be dangerous. Realise that anything can happen to the car after you drop it off, and you are still responsible for it. It also means that it is your word against the company’s word if they claim damage was done to the car after you dropped it off. By returning the car during business hours, you ensure an immediate hand off of responsibility to the agent in question.
There you have them – 15 tips and tricks that should make your Down Under car hire experience smoother, more affordable, and less damaging to your sanity. The single most important takeaway here is this. It is absolutely imperative that you work with a reputable car and truck hire provider. You should have access to clean, modern vehicles, affordable hire rates, and not be forced to pay hidden fees and charges. We invite you to learn more about how Zippy Rentals can help make your Australian excursion more enjoyable.