I had my first experience renting a car the other day. It was a learning curve to say the least. The prices ranged by quite a bit. I am going to Montreal for the long weekend in May. I rented a car from the morning of May 18th until the evening of May 21st. I was looking for the cheapest economy car available.
I checked a variety of sites including the AMA deals page for their affiliate (Budget) to see if I could get a discount. Here is an outline of what happened.
Compare, Compare, Compare
There was a large variety of prices. The worst was Alamo. Their estimated price online was over $200. The best was Enterprise who came it at $84. Most seem to fall in the $120 to $145 category. Overall, I checked the following companies.
- National Car
- Dollar Car
Look For Discounts
There are discounts and coupons galore. It kind of makes them look a bit shady actually. But keep your eyes peeled for a deal. You can enter your membership number for different services, get middle of the week deals, weekend deals, etc. My Enterprise quote had no deals associated it with it though, so don’t assume because you have an AMA discount or something else that it has to be the best price.
Have the Online Quote Ready When You Phone
I phoned Enterprise and asked for the exact same quote I had just done online. There quote was $112. When I said I saw a different value online, they said “Hold on, let me check the internet price” and told told me the price was $84 about 2 seconds later.
I think they must have an elevated price when booking on the phone, because it took them no time to give me my internet price when I asked. It saved me almost $30 over the 4 days. They are probably told to quote the first one when someone calls.
Do You Have Insurance Coverage?
Enterprise told me that insurance can be $20 to $30 a day depending on what I wanted. This is pricey, but there are other options.
I had heard the Visa had some coverage if you booked with your Visa card. Unfortunately, mine did not have this feature. You can read more about it at Traveling With Your Visa Card. They have a list of eligible Visa cards on the site as well.
My next step was to look at my BMO Mosaik Mastercard. Sure enough, no coverage. However, for $29/year you can add coverage. This looked appealing. It included coverage for the car and personal injury to relatives (you need to read the details as to how far this extends). Unfortunately, no 3rd party coverage for the guy you run into.
I decided to phone my insurance company for my personal car. Bingo. They had full coverage as if I was driving my own vehicle. 3rd party coverage and my own vehicle coverage. The deductible was the same as my vehicle’s.
Bottom line, check with your current insurance provider to see if you are already covered. This can save you a lot of money. If you are getting insurance through the rental company, find out their deductible and how far their coverage extends. If you are booking with your Visa or Mastercard, you might only need 3rd party insurance coverage.
I have yet to make my trip and even drive the car, but I will be sure to fill you in and update this article if there is anything else that comes up.