Like most seasoned business travelers, I’m typically on the road for work related travel. But recently, I was vacationing with my family over a holiday weekend. The airport was hectic—and the car rental area was no exception. Long, slow lines of people were waiting for the various car rental companies to finalize their rentals. Fortunately, as a business traveler with a car rental membership, we bypassed the lines and were quickly on our way. It was the first time in quite a while that I realized how valuable having a membership to a car rental company can be. I thought I’d share some important tips on renting a car for business travel. Many of which that are overlooked by even experienced travelers.
Top car rental tips every business traveler should know:
- Have a membership – Hopefully my story above persuaded you with the ease of having a membership to a car rental company. When you first sign-up, important information like divers license number, contact information, insurance, etc., are filled out and completed ahead of time. Everything concerning your account will then be fully automated and ready to go. No more standing in long car rental lines! Additionally, being a member typically includes deals that keeps your overall rates lower.
- Find the preferred car rental company through your TMC. Most TMCs have a partnership with car rental companies, which enhances the savings and rewards for their clients. Look into your preferred partnerships if you have a TMC. At Christopherson, we work with clients to establish preferred vendor relationships and frequent traveler enrollment. Overall, this streamlines the process for both your travel managers and travelers, ultimately reducing traveler friction.
- Stick with one car rental company – If you don’t have a preferred car rental partner, it’s time to do some research. Find a car company with perks that best suits your company’s needs and stick with them. You may benefit as well from a primary and secondary partner.
- Take 30 seconds to walk around the car and inspect it before renting. Every time a rental car is returned, it is inspected for damage, cleaned, and put back on the lot. Or at least is should If there is damage on the car before you rent it, it likely hasn’t been seen or claimed yet. Meaning, you will likely be held responsible of the damage and its repair costs when you return the car. Car rental employees work hard, but small details can easily fall through the cracks. Be diligent about the state of the car before you take responsibility for it.
- Check for errors inside the car. Make sure the gas tank is full and there are no warning lights on the dashboard. And always remember to return the car with a full tank of gas unless you have opted to prepurchase fuel with rental car company
- Know your personal insurance coverage or company’s coverage. Before renting a car, most companies will ask if you need additional coverage (at an additional expense). Know what to accept or decline ahead of time by understanding your personal insurance coverage, and additionally what your company might cover. Christopherson also helps our clients by outlining their coverage in their travel policy and providing it in an easy-to-find location in our Airportal platform.
- Keep your auto insurance card on you. In some states, you will be charged a mandatory liability insurance fee for not having your auto insurance card on you when renting the car. Most insurance companies have a downloadable version that you could keep on your smartphone to simplify the problem.
- Verify the return location. Typically it will be the same place you rented the car, but occasionally, it will be different. It never hurts to double check, especially if you’re running to catch a flight.
- Avoid syncing your phone to your rental car, if possible. Though it’s convenient, syncing your phone to a rental car can leave your information exposed to the next renter. If you need to, be sure you know how to unsync it once you’ve returned it.
Usually, learning the eccentricities that is the car rental industry comes through personal trial and error. Hopefully this blog gave you a few additional tips to keep in your pocket until next time you rent a car for business travel. Did we miss any? Leave a comment below.