With better weather on the horizon, many Americans have started planning their summer vacations and getaways. If you’re flying to your destination, you might need to rent a car to take you from the airport to your hotel or to your sightseeing excursions. In addition, if you own an electric vehicle and don’t have enough range to drive long distances, renting a car for your family road trip might cut down on charging concerns. Regardless of your reason, renting for the first time can seem intimidating. Read on to learn how to rent a car and where to find affordable rentals.

What Are the Procedures for Renting a Car?

Nowadays, most car rentals are booked online. Sites like Kayak, Priceline, and Car Rentals let you compare prices to find the best deal. If you have a rental company in mind, you can usually book through them directly. You might be able to get a better price by paying upfront, but keep in mind that these reservations are usually non-refundable. If high budget rentals aren’t within your price range, smaller rental companies like Advantage, Payless, Thrifty, and Dollar Rental are worth exploring.

What to Do When You Pick Up Your Rental Car

Keep the following in mind when picking up your vehicle:

  • Have your driver’s license, credit card, and confirmation number handy. The first thing rental-car agents look at is your driver’s license and credit card. A picture of your license or credit card usually won’t be valid. You might be able to pay for your rental using a debit card, but renting with a debit card can be complicated as there are more rules, restrictions, and fees. Having your confirmation number on hand is never a bad idea as it helps your agent retrieve your reservation.
  • Observe pickup and return times. Your rate might increase if you pick up your car early and/or return it too late. If you miss your appointed time slot, you run the risk of not getting the car you reserved or having the rental office close before you arrive.
  • Inspect the car. Before you hit the road, inspect your rental car’s interior, glass, and exterior for any visible damage. Document anything you see and notify the rental company so you don’t get charged for damage you didn’t cause.
  • Avoid purchasing pricey extras. Packing your own traveling extras, such as a radio, child safety seat, or a GPS can help you save on additional fees. Things like toll passes and pre-paid fuel can also be overpriced at the rental office, so save money in the long term by purchasing them yourself.

Person renting a car online using their cell phone

What About Rental Car Insurance?

Depending on your policy, your primary insurer might cover rental cars. If you can, bringing your own insurance is a great way to save money and cut out extra fees. If you pay via credit, your credit card company might offer basic insurance coverage as well. Learn more about rental car insurance and what you need to consider before shelling out for the rental company’s offering.

If you’re insured with The General and plan on renting a car, call one of our customer service representatives to see what’s covered under your policy. If you need insurance for your personal vehicle or rental car, The General has a range of policies for every driver, regardless of driving record or credit score. Get a car insurance quote in under two minutes and see how much you can save.