Get a Good Deal on Car Rentals

Last spring, airport rental counters were eerily quiet as pandemic-wary Americans canceled their vacations and stayed close to home. But as spring turned to summer and fall, customers started returning, looking for vehicles for road trips as well as longer-term rentals at home to avoid using public trans­portation and ride-hailing apps. Business travelers also increasingly turned to rental cars. This summer, as more people receive a vaccine and the economy reopens, air travel is likely to pick up, too. That means customers will again be lining up at airport rental car counters—and navigating a maze of prices, fees and insurance coverages.

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Read This Before You Rent a Car

For consumers, the rental car counter can be bigstock-Suitcases-and-bags-in-trunk-of-101954126-800x534treacherous. “Rental car agents are paid on commission, so they’re incentivized to try to upsell you for everything,” says Jonathan Weinberg, creator of AutoSlash.com, a service that tracks rental price changes to help get consumers the best deals. “If you ask whether you need something, they’re going to say yes.”

Also, since many rental car companies are good at burying fees and surcharges in long rental agreements—you know, the paperwork you barely glance at before signing—the onus is on you to thoroughly research your options. Indeed, “when renting a car, it’s a ‘buyer beware’ transaction,” says Neil Abrams, president of the Abrams Consulting Group, which tracks the rental car industry.

Follow these steps to drive down the costs on your next rental car and enjoy a cheaper, happier road trip.

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