Car Rental Manual: The Ultimate 5 Best Tips for Travelers

Renting a car is such a common part of the traveling experience that you’d think the process would be effortless and transparent yet somehow it is not, so I think we need this short car rental manual.

Guest post by Manish Ambaliya

Many travelers aren’t sure how to rent a car without making common mistakes. Do I need to buy extra insurance? What about paying to refuel the car? I hear horror stories about phony damage claims; should I be disturbed? No one is around to inspect the car with me – is that OK? Can I drive a car into another country? Do I need all the extras they offer me at the rental car counter? These are questions that come up pretty much every time someone rents a car. This car rental manual will come in handy for your next bookings.

Hot weather is almost here. There’s a good chance you’ll be renting a car for a road trip sometime this summer. Whether you’ll be flying in and catching a rental car at the airport, or renting on your road-tripping, you must know what you’re getting into before you hand over your credit card.

Why rent a car?

Renting a car for your holiday just makes sense. It saves you money that you’d be spending on car rides. It also keeps you away from the unpredictable schedules of public transportation. But the entire process involved in renting a car can be a daunting task for both first-timers and veteran travelers alike.

Car rental can be confusing. It can be stressful. And it can end up being much more costly than it needs to be.

We want to share the lessons learned from our own car rental and road trip experiences and mistakes. We hope to help you reduce some of the biggest distress and reassure you of some of the realities. The car rental manual will arm you with the required knowledge to avoid hidden costs and save more money. We’ll make sure you actually get to rent the car before riding off into the sunset without (too much) concern!

Car Rental Manual: 5 Essential Tips

These are our five essential tips of our car rental manual that you need to know before you rent a car anywhere in the world.

#1 Save money with your car rental manual

Once you know your destination travel dates and have locked them in, then you should book your rental car sooner rather than later.

The economic car rental supply and demand are always at play, and if your reservation is too late (i.e. 48 hours before you arrive) you run the risk of having very few options available and more expensive cars remaining.

Last-minute rentals are possible, but it’s just best to book ahead.

In the car rental space, there are the big international players who have a presence in most countries. However, there are also the private, local car rental companies for which you won’t have enough time or desire to find when you have other things to plan for your upcoming trip.

This is why for every road trip we search for the best deals via a car rental search engine. It basically acts like Skyscanner for flights. It finds all the prices available for your dates and locations with the big boys and the small guys.

We started doing this out of convenience – it made it much easier to find the cheapest car options. Then, we discovered that the prices showing up were often cheaper than the prices listed on each firm’s e-commerce website. For example, we recently rented for a single day whilst we were in Benidorm as it was the only way to get to the Marbella Airport. The cheapest deal on was £42 with Enterprise-Rent-A-Car. That was £32 cheaper than renting the same car for the same dates!

#2 Prepare your paperwork

As most of you will be flying and then picking up your car rental from the destination airport, it’s better that you bring all the necessary items required to collect the car.

So long as you’re making your booking with a credit card, be sure to use an international card with maximum potential for rewards.

Most U.S. car hiring company agreements do not allow you to drive the car across international borders. Additionally, your U.S. car insurance rarely covers international car rentals. So, you will likely want to buy insurance from the rental company at the time of rental.

You will obviously also need to bring your valid customer driving license. However, it’s important to know that some countries require renters to have an International Driving Permit and this includes the USA, Brazil, and Japan. If you’re based in the UK or USA, it’s quick and easy to get one at the Post Office. You need to pop in with some passport size photos, your license, and a fee of £5 to £10. You can also use this International Country Driving Permit tool to check the requirements for UK drivers of the country in which you are renting.

#3 Use an International Credit Card

Renting a car on is a breeze, but make sure you use an international credit card when picking up the car. When you use a debit card, an authorization amount will be charged. Also, a substantial additional may be held as well.

First of all – a valid International credit card in the name of the primary driver is a must from which a security deposit will be held for the duration of the rental. The deposit amount of money should be noted on the booking details and confirmation, and you need to ensure your international card has sufficient funds to cover this. This often causes confusion with customers who don’t regularly rent a car so you need to know that if you pre-paid for a hired car you will have to present a valid international credit card in the name of the driver and a deposit will be taken from it.

If you don’t do this, the car rental company may refuse to rent you the car. Money held by the company during the rental car isn’t actually withdrawn. However, if there’s a charge or a traffic fine that doesn’t turn up until months later, it’s going to be paid using the credit card.

Rental car companies used to check your international credit score. When you used a debit card, they made sure you can pay other charges. However, that policy has recently been changing among most of the rental companies. If you prefer to rent a car using a debit card, call ahead or check online to see what the terms and conditions are so you don’t wind up with a hold on money that you weren’t expecting.

#4 Check the small print before you book

It’s essential to spend a little time comparing the quotes to avoid spending more money than you plan on your road trip.
The key point areas to look at in the rate details before you book to ensure are:

  • Unlimited mileage
  • Deposits
  • Young drivers surcharge
  • Level of insurance deductible/excess
  • Understand 24-hours periods
  • Fuel charges
  • Car wash/cleaning
  • Notification charges
  • Late return charges
  • Border crossing
  • Reviews

#5 Bring your own extras when possible

Sometimes you need more than just a car for your trip. Car rental companies have extras available for hire. For instance, instead of using the GPS from the agency you rent the car, just use the Maps app on your phone for navigation to your destination, as long as it won’t kill your data plan.

The same thing goes for satellite radio. But it’s a little more enjoyable listening to them on the local stations. Some people think that hiring an electronic toll pass is worth the cost when you consider the time it’ll save you. However, you will pay a daily rate for the benefits, whether or not you use the pass each day. Take the fee into consideration when determining whether it’s worth skipping the toll lines.

Last thoughts on the car rental manual

Having a car rental manual seems like a good idea when I think back at every single time I rented a car while traveling. There are always questions that need answering and this post is meant as a guide to navigating through the car rental companies’ policies.

About the author

Hello, I am Manish Ambaliya from I have started writing articles on topics like car rental, trip planning, traveling, and so on. I believe that sharing is caring and that’s the reason I am writing something new every day.


Some of the above may be affiliate links. This means that if you click on a link and make a purchase, I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. However, I only recommend companies, activities, or products that I use myself. Thank you for your support in keeping my blog live!

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