Imagine you’re on a trip to Australia and you’ve just landed at the Sydney Airport. You decide that renting a car is the best way to explore the city, visit all the tourist attractions you’ve been planning to visit and maybe even take your family of four for a trip outside of town. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, if you want it to be great and not just sound great, there are some things you should take into account before renting a car.
Bring your credit card
Of course, when renting a car, you’re going to need your driver’s licence, but that’s not all. You’ll surely need your credit card as well, as some agencies don’t accept debit cards, and even if they do, using debit cards can incur additional authorisation costs as well as a potential incremental hold along with it. Even with a credit card, some rental agencies might require you to go through a screening process that may vary in length and requirements, such as a particular credit score, although that’s not common practice nowadays. The reason why a credit card is so important is that the agencies require some form of guarantee in case of incidents such as traffic violations, damage, missing fuel or parking tickets. Before accepting the car insurance offered by the company, make sure to check whether it’s covered by the credit card.
Don’t rent at the airport
Back to the story, you’ve landed (with your credit card) and right off the bat, you spot a rental agency on the airport grounds. They are the quickest way to rent a car, aren’t they? Sure, but they might not be the best option since they usually charge extra due to the fees they pay for renting so near to the airport. You might choose to hail a cab and ask the driver to take you to the nearest car hire in Sydney which offers vehicles big enough to make the drive comfortable for your family.
Extra drivers cost extra
In the process of renting a car, you’ll be asked to list the number of drivers who will be active during the rental. Keeping this number to a minimum is the best policy for your wallet, as additional drivers will incur additional fees, regardless of whether they really were active drivers or just listed as such. Also, having a co-driver, or being a young driver yourself, might put you at a disadvantage since they will be considered a liability by the rental company and will… you guessed it, incur extra costs.
The road is your friend
While driving a rental vehicle, stay on paved roads and avoid off-road adventuring if possible. No matter how durable, well-equipped or big, most cars in a fleet are made to stay on the road. While off-road driving could be dangerous, it also heightens the risk of damage to the vehicle which could cost you. If you get lost or stuck, you’ll require a towing service to help you get back on the road, one that you’ll have to pay since it’s not covered by insurance.
A full tank equals a full wallet
As you’re nearing the end of your trip to Sydney, you’ll want to return the vehicle you’ve rented to the rental company. You’ve managed to avoid any damage to the vehicle, you’ve followed the rules of the road and stayed on it. But as you’re nearing the place where you’re supposed to drop your car off, you notice the tank isn’t quite full. It’s a good thing you’ve noticed since returning the car without a filled tank could mean you’re paying several times the going price per gallon.
Extras cost extra as well
When renting a car in a foreign country, you’ll probably need more than just the car, and most rental agencies would be happy to help you with those as well, for a fee. This is easily avoidable, simply by bringing your own extras such as your own GPS device or by using a phone app for navigation.
There are some details that were not covered in the previous paragraphs but could make your stay in Sydney a whole lot more enjoyable. For example, before renting a car, you should check whether it works properly and if there is any damage caused by the previous driver. You wouldn’t want to risk your car breaking down in the middle of your vacation or paying for the damage which was someone else’s fault. You also wouldn’t want to lose your car keys, since nowadays they sport delicate, hard-to-copy electronics, which means you’d have to order a new one from the manufacturer, for about $200.
Renting a car can be a financial nightmare, or a blissful dream, depending on how well-prepared you are, but if you’ve come this far, you don’t have to worry about that. Just make sure you double-check everything and enjoy your vacation.