BBB offers tips to consumers prior to renting a car

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RALEIGH — The U.S. rental car market is a $40 billion industry, with over 22,000 companies competing for your business. In 2018, BBB received over 7,300 complaints nationwide against auto renting and leasing companies. With travel prices expected to increase in the upcoming season, Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina (BBB) offers tips to help you find the best rental car for your budget.

“Whether traveling for business or pleasure, it’s important to be a savvy consumer and search for the best possible deals,” said Mallory Wojciechowski, president and CEO of BBB serving Eastern NC. “Consumers can start their search by heading to BBB to find trustworthy companies in their area.”

BBB offers the following tips to help ease the stress of renting a car:

  • Shop around. Car rental rates can vary depending on the company or the amount of lead time, so it pays to shop around and compare prices. You may get a better rate through a motor club, credit card or other membership organization.
  • Consider location. Renting from an airport-based rental facility may be more expensive than an off-airport location. Also, many rentals have an extra drop-off fee if you are returning the vehicle to a different location than where you picked it up.
  • Ask about mileage. One of the most important factors to consider is mileage. Is the rate quoted for unlimited mileage or for a certain number of miles a day? Although most rental rates do include mileage, some still charge for every mile you drive.
  • Understand insurance. Before you leave home, check with your insurance agent or carrier to see if your existing policy covers damage to a rental vehicle or your liability as a driver. If so, you can skip buying insurance from the rental car company. If you are traveling for business, you may be covered by an employer’s policy. You may also have coverage from a motor club or credit card used for the transaction.
  • Look for package deals and discounts. You could possibly be eligible for discounts if you are a senior citizen, members of an auto club, and certain credit card holders. You may also find discounted prices for certain dates, weekends, or longer rental periods. Some airlines and travel sites offer discounts if you book your plane and rental car together, but don’t assume those bundled rates are the best.
  • Read the fine print. Before you initial and sign the contract, read it and make sure you understand the terms. Check that the final price reflects what you understood the fees to be based on the advertising or your reservation. Note any additional fees or charges that you can incur.
  • Inspect the vehicle. Thoroughly inspect your rental car before you drive away. Note any damage such as scratches or dents in the body; stains or tears in the interior; cracks in the windshield or other windows, etc. If you see any damage or defect, make the company representative aware of it immediately so that it is noted on the car’s condition form. Take pictures of the damage or make a video and describe the damage as you record. Also check to see that the mileage is the same as what is recorded on your rental agreement.
  • Returning the vehicle. Before leaving the vehicle, be sure that the check-in attendant inspects the car’s body in your presence and that you agree about any damage. Get a final print-out of the charges that will be made on your credit card, and check your statement later to make sure there are no unexpected charges.

    For more information you can trust, visit bbb.org.

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