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Renting a Car for a Road Trip: All You Need to Know

Renting a Car for a Road Trip: All You Need to Know

If you're pondering a long road trip but hesitate to take your own car, a rental car might be the answer. While they can be expensive, rental car deals can be had if you look around. And if you want to try a new car or enjoy some extra space, they can make a long road trip much more enjoyable.

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Is Renting a Car for a Road Trip Cross Country a Good Idea?

Yes! Of course, it depends on your situation and what sort of vehicle you own. But there's nothing to stop you from renting a car for a long road trip.

Most rental car companies offer their rentals with unlimited mileage, provided you keep it within the country or region. Compared to driving your car, this means you will get a newer and more reliable auto to drive, save wear and tear on your vehicle, and likely get a more fuel-efficient car for your long trip.

So, if you've been dreaming of touring the national parks or driving coast-to-coast, a rental car might be the answer.

Things to Consider When Renting a Car for a Long Road Trip

Shopping for a good deal on a rental car is a lot like finding the best airfare for a vacation. It takes some snooping around on the internet to find the best combination of dates, locations, and options.

It Costs How Much to Rent a Car?! Tips to Reduce the Cost

Here are some of our favourite ways to save money and find the right vehicle for your drive.

Insurance When Renting a Car for Road Trip

Know the details of your personal auto insurance policy. Any car rental company will be more than happy to sell you a collision damage waiver, but it can greatly increase the rental cost. You might also see if your credit card has an included rental car insurance policy, or you can purchase car rental insurance ahead of time to cover the vehicle.

You need to be covered for a few things. The obvious is the cost of any damage to the rental vehicle. This is comprehensive and collision coverage, sometimes called primary coverage. You might be covered by your own car insurance, but only if you have full coverage. If you don't have a policy or have liability-only coverage, you need to cover the cost of the rental car somehow.

Secondly, you need to be covered for damage you cause to others or their vehicles. This liability coverage is cheaper but nonetheless important. Again, it might be covered by your own insurance policy.

Lastly, you need coverage for what the car rental companies call "loss of use." This means that if you wreck their car, they not only want the money for their car but also the money they would be making with that car but now cannot.

Your credit card company may cover some of these insurance types, but don't count on it. Always read the fine print and use the right card for rental cars. Also, remember that many credit card policies don't cover luxury vehicles, four wheel drive cars, or other unique vehicles.

You can purchase any or all of these car insurance policies from the car rental agency, but that will cost you the most. Try to find deals by shopping beforehand, using your personal vehicle and credit card policies, as much as possible.

renting a car for a road trip

One Way Rentals

Unfortunately, one-way car rentals seldom make for the best deals. As far as the car rental agency is concerned, they need to get the car back to the same location. If you don't bring it back there, they'll tack on an extra fee because they must pay a driver to do it for you. The only way to know is to select "one way rental" on the website and compare prices.

Watch Out for Upcharges

Anything you pay for from the car rental agency will cost more. From prepaid toll roads to add-on navigation or satellite radio charges, it's usually cheaper to do it on your own.

One classic example is their fee to purchase gas in advance, so you don't have to worry about filling the tank up when you return. Of course, they charge way more per gallon to do so than the gas station on the corner does. Simply taking five minutes to fill the tank before returning the car can save you a bundle.

Avoid Airport Counters

Generally, airport locations are more expensive than those in the suburbs or car dealerships. Use the rental website to shop around and compare rates.

Get the Right Type of Car

Finding the right vehicle for a long road trip means considering what you need most. Is it fuel efficiency, comfort, or extra space? Only pay for the things you really need.

Rental cars charge more for driving unique vehicles or fancy ones. For example, convertibles are pricy, as are large vans or four wheel drive jeeps. Consider this when booking a long-term rental because the fun factor might be very costly for a whole month.

If you just need wheels, booking an economy or compact car is always the cheaper deal. And some car rental companies will give you a free upgrade anyway because they're often out of the compacts.

Final Words

So, there you have it! Is it worth renting a car for a road trip? The answer always depends, but we think it's a great idea for those who want to take a newer, more comfortable car or just one that's more fuel efficient.

Renting a Car FAQs

How many miles a day can you drive a rental car?

Most rental cars come with unlimited mileage. Of course, check before you rent, but it's common for a car rental company to let you take a long trip.

What is a good reason to rent a car for road trip?

Using a rental car for a long trip saves your own vehicle from wear and tear. Plus, you'll get a new vehicle that is more reliable and fuel-efficient to drive on the trip.

Is it better to rent a car one way or round trip?

In nearly every case, round-trip car rentals are cheaper. If you select a one-way rental, the rental car company will always tack on a fee to return the car to its original location.

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