Car rental companies are increasingly billing travelers for damage to vehicles they thought they returned undamaged. To avoid this, you need to follow these steps.

First, be sure to filter by car type. But beware: classifications like “compact” and “midsize” mean different things to each company. Verbal explanations at the counter don’t trump the contract you sign.

Types of Rental Cars

You can choose from a wide range of vehicles when renting a car. Rental companies like Monza Exotics usually group models into categories that describe their size and type, such as economy, midsize, or full-size. You can book a small or large vehicle or sports, convertible, or luxury model, depending on your needs.

While some people enjoy owning their cars, renting one is convenient for those who do not have a car or prefer to take advantage of other transportation options for short periods. The key to minimizing the cost of car rental is shopping around, booking early, and skipping unnecessary add-ons.

Choosing a Rental Car

A rental car can be convenient, but you must choose wisely to avoid stress. There are many considerations, such as size, type, cost, insurance, and other add-ons.

Read descriptions carefully to discover what features are included and which are extras. Look for a list of vehicle fees, such as gas, taxes, energy charges, and a mileage limit. Find out whether a roadside assistance plan is offered and what it covers. Ask about equipment rentals, such as child seats and GPS systems. Compare online prices with several companies and price-comparison websites to get the best deal.

Consider purchasing additional insurance from the rental company for a fee. Check your auto or home insurance policy and credit card to see if they offer coverage for rental cars. You may also be covered by membership at an auto club or the auto or credit cards you use to pay for the rental.

Getting a Rental Car

Before you pick up your rental car, verify what is and is omitted. Many credit cards offer coverage for rentals that can save you from purchasing supplemental insurance from the agency. It’s also good to check your auto insurance company for coverage.

It’s a good idea to ask about extra fees, such as GPS devices, mobile Wi-Fi, and child safety seats, which can add up quickly. It’s also essential to respect pick-up and drop-off times. Returning a vehicle late can result in extra charges or even paying for an additional day of rental.

Also, many membership programs, such as AAA and airline frequent flyer programs, age-specific organizations, or sports- or hobby-focused groups, offer car rental discounts. Be sure to ask before you book your car rental. Also, thoroughly inspect the vehicle for scratches, dents, and loose parts before you drive away.

Returning a Rental Car

Returning a rental car is often smooth, but it can be challenging to avoid extra charges. It’s essential to be on time when dropping off the vehicle – some companies have a limited grace period or charge for a different day if you return it late.

You also should ensure the vehicle is clean inside and out, as failure can result in a cleaning or valeting fee. Some people take photos of the car to document its condition (an excellent idea at unmanned after-hours drop-off points) to have documentation in case erroneous charges appear on their credit card statements.

Finally, be sure to return the car with a full gas tank. Many rental car companies require this and offer the option to prepay for gas. Doing so can save you the hassle of stopping to fill up before returning the vehicle, but it will usually cost more than simply topping off the tank yourself.