Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas are culturally diverse cities with a reputation for being creative centers of the U.S. You will find a thriving culinary scene, museums, outstanding shopping, and family attractions. Therefore, renting a van for a vacation is sensible. We at State Van Rental are here to help you rent a van for your vacation to help save the money you would spend on taxi rides and keep you from depending on the unpredictable schedule of public transportation. However, the renting process can be overwhelming. Irrespective of whether you are a veteran traveler or first-timer, here are things you should not do when renting a vehicle.
Failing to Confirm the Pick-up Point
If you are not conversant with both where the van will be picked and the airport, it is advised to discuss where you will pick the vehicle up.
Occasionally you will be required to go to the waiting room where you will wait for the car. Then it could be a twenty-minute ride to the parking lot where you get the van. It is dependent on the airport’s size and the location of the van rental counter.
Renting at the Airport
Probably one of the most common van rental mistakes is making arrangements at the airport.
It is a convenient location for most travelers to get rental services, and sometimes to rent elsewhere is more hectic than it is worth. However, most people fail to notice that airport vehicle rental is more expensive compared to other places.
Usually, there are additional charges to the bill when you rent your van after arriving at the van rental agency. The surcharges cover for:
- Renting at the airport (often local governments and airports add taxes and surcharges to rental vehicle rates)
- Airport use charges
- Other hidden charges
It is in your best interest to plan and reserve a motor vehicle from an off-site agency. Nevertheless, always weigh the van fees and ensure the distance to the off-site counter suits your time demands and travel needs before deciding.
Paying for High-End Accesories
You need to make some compromises when on vacation. Be creative and innovative. For instance, you could purchase a new baby seat after you arrive. It is more cost-effective than renting it.
Other items on the wish list that require close consideration include:
- Luggage racks
- Ski racks
You will also hear at the rental counter, “Would you like navigation systems? Most roads here are difficult to follow.” It is a sales tactic. You can eliminate extras, such as GPS and other directional gadgets, by purchasing a SIM card and permit Google Maps or WAZE usage.
Failing to Join Loyalty Programs
Vehicle rental firms desire to build loyalty with customers. Bearing that in mind could save you money and time. The reward programs offer various returns, depending mainly on how often you travel and handle your money. Some companies will give points towards your next rental, allow you to go ahead in the line, or give you a discount. Although there are joining charges, the returns are significant, particularly if you love driving.
Failing to Check Your Documentation
The credit card is the currency as far as van rental is concerned. There is no more devastating situation than standing at the counter only to discover that the card has been denied. Always check to find out if the card is approved for international travel.
Moreover, whether international or national, ensure your passport, driver’s license, and other documentation has:
- Your address
- Birthdate details
The documentation should be up-to-date.
Wrong Return Time Estimates
If you rent a van on Monday and take it back on Wednesday, you could pay for three days instead of two. Many rental agencies charge on a twenty-four-hour basis. Therefore, in case you keep the van for twenty-five hours, you will pay for another day, notwithstanding the day was an hour.
Although the time you say you will pick and take the vehicle back seems arbitrary, the rental agency will take note of it and charge you accordingly. Some firms will offer you an hour of grace time.
You might be surprised to learn that some companies will charge you for returning the van a day or two early, while others will give you a prorated refund.
Ensure you inquire from the clerk about the policy. Also, give yourself a time cushion, return the vehicle at least an hour before you are expected to return.
Reserving a Large Van Instead of Compact
Sometimes a larger motor vehicle is approximately the same price as a small car. In this case, a budget traveler will consider the extra cost well-spent. When that arrangement is not available, it is advisable to reserve a compact, particularly during the holidays.
Often, rental companies run out of compacts, and if the company does not have the vehicle you reserved at the time of your arrival, you will get an upgrade free of charge. The free upgrade is widespread in major cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. It is because most firms stock larger vehicles.
Therefore, if you are comfortable with compact, reserve it. Should it take place, you will save a few bucks on fuel.
Expecting Instant Services at Small Rental Offices
In major cities, it’s almost impossible that you will wait for more than one hour before getting your vehicle. It could take longer than anticipated between waiting in the line, signing the necessary documents, and conducting an inspection.
Nevertheless, in a smaller city, the fleet size is limited. You could take many hours waiting for a person to return the van, have the inspection, clean it, and then begin your paperwork.
Usually, high-volume vehicle rental locations have vehicles. You can receive an upgrade if the company does not have the vehicle that you reserved and will get the van really fast.
Dropping off the vehicle might also take longer than anticipated. Therefore, ensure you have adequate time in the journey for the rental process. You do not want to miss your flight because of this mistake.
Failing to Do a Pre-Rental Inspection
If you fail to notice cracks in windshield or mirrors, light covers, starches, body dents, stains on upholstery, chipped paint, and other minor issues on a van once you rent it, you could pay for it. The problem is that if you find the damage on the vehicle after you have left the airport, you have no way to establish the damage was there when you left.
If possible, take a quick walk with an agent around the van, taking note of both big and small problems. Do not be afraid to take photos of the issues with your smartphone or camera. Please note, it is not always that the company has noticed the issues.
Also, inspect the van alone and inform the rental company on the way off that you found issues that you don’t want to be charged upon return. The same is true for a mechanical problem. If your vehicle is not in good working condition, return it.
Moreover, start the van. Although it will cause pollution and waste gas, it allows you to ensure the engine is running well without strange noises.
Pairing Your Smartphone with Bluetooth
Most modern cars provide the ability to pair smartphones with the vehicle’s satellite system or navigation through Bluetooth. It lets you make hands-free calls and listen to your favorite music. However, when setting it up, you will be asked to sync your phone details and contacts. Should you select yes, your personal details will be loaded in the van.
Do not forget to clear your information before returning the van. Otherwise, future vehicle rentals might access the information.
Failing to Use Coupon and Discount Codes
It always pays to research for a code before booking a car.
One of the possible ways to get a discount is by using a discount or budget booking tool to find the best van rental. You can also get discount codes directly from the rental agency or online.
Additionally, most banks and credit cards give their customers discount codes to use when renting a vehicle. These discount codes come with other benefits, such as a free additional driver.
Not Joining Clubs
If you fail to sign up for the agency club program, you will be leaving money-saving benefits, discounts, and perks on the table. One of the most exciting benefits of being a club member is skipping the counter, finding the van’s lot number, and driving away without waiting.
Also, you will be awarded points towards future upgrades and rentals.
Failing to Read International Rental Law
Every country has its rules as far as rental vehicles are concerned. Therefore, ensure you do your homework. The things to research for include:
- Insurance requirements
- Speed limit
- Additional rental charges
- Age requirements
Also, make sure you read more about the standard driving practices like the right of way and passing lanes.
Other restrictions you require when hiring a car in the U.S include having an International Driving Permit along with your driver’s license.
Check Whether the Van is Automatic or Manual
Manual vehicles are often pocket-friendly compared to automatic vans. If you do not want to or cannot drive a manual van, ensure you confirm if it’s automatic or manual before booking. The last thing you want is getting stuck in a foreign place with a manual transmission you cannot operate.
Not Above Twenty-five Years of Age
It is not always the case, but most agencies do not rent to motorists who are less than twenty-five years. If you are younger than this, ensure you confirm if you qualify to rent a van from your rental agency. If you qualify, remember to ask if the company charges additional fees.
Failing to Read the Vehicle Rental Contract
Read and understand the contract before signing it. Ask questions and clarify all vague elements. Ensure you comprehend the pricing options and terms and conditions before signing. If you sign the contract without reading, you risk paying for things you do not require.
Crossing International Borders
Many contracts don’t permit you to operate the van across international borders. Also, chances are your car insurance does not cover international vehicle rentals, and you will be required to buy insurance from the agency when renting. In this case, a credit card company can help.
Outside the United States, policies on border crossing vary with the rental company and destination. Sometimes, driving across the border is allowed if you give advance notice and pay an additional charge.
If you drive into another country without authorization and you have an issue, your protection of the insurance and rental agreement could be canceled.
Failing to Conduct a Drop-off Inspection
The process of returning rental cars resembles checking out your hotel room. You will follow signs to the parking lot with recently returned vehicles, pick your belongings, leave the car key in the van, and then walk away.
It is advisable to have an attendant check the van over. Most complaints about rental agencies today are damage claim disputes. If no agent is present at the time of drop-off, the dispute will be your word against theirs.
The importance of taking a video or pictures of a slow walk around your motor vehicle cannot be emphasized enough.
Ignoring “Loss of Use” Coverage
When a rental van has a mechanical issue, loss of use charges apply. The costs are meant to compensate for the income lost when the car is repaired. Typically, the charges amount to a one-day rental fee, and many car insurance providers don’t cover the charges. Fortunately, credit cards, such as Visa, MasterCard, and America Express, offer the coverage with van rentals paid for with the cards. Be sure to check the conditions early.
Purchasing Car Insurance (Your Insurance will Cover You)
Before accepting this fact, it is worth noting that car insurance policies vary significantly. Consequently, you should check directly with your insurance company.
If you have a minimum lawfully permissible insurance, it might not cover your rental vehicle. Full coverage, on the other hand, will extend to the rental van in your home country. It is well-thought-of to be a replacement car under your plan. That means if your car has comprehensive insurance, the policy will offer you comprehensive coverage for your rental motor vehicle.
You do not have to worry if you rent a better van than your car or get an upgrade. Many insurance policies will cover you, notwithstanding the rental vehicle is more valuable or better than your car.
However, a rental vehicle accident can increase your rates if you claim on your insurance policy.
Purchasing Unnecessary (Additional) Insurance
Another most expensive mistake made is purchasing additional insurance that is not required. Rental agencies provide insurance coverage, including Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) and Supplemental Liability Insurance. These coverages are paid daily. If you are not aware of these coverages, how will you know if you require them?
Since you will rent your van using your credit card, the credit card you use to pay for the rental could cover you. Before renting the van, always check whether the card provides coverage and what it covers.
Most major credit card networks provide rental coverage, but the requirements and benefits vary considerably. Some cards will give secondary insurance that will become effective after you have personal auto insurance, whereas others provide primary insurance free of charge.
As you would expect, if you will be using a credit card for van rental coverage, you must read and comprehend the print.
Turning Down Points
If you are a savvy traveler, you could earn yourself free travel by saving reward credits. If you have not signed up for your rental company’s free award program, you could be leaving award miles on the table.
Even when you are not a member of the program, you could obtain bonus miles with a hotel or airline award program. Many agencies have a partnership with hotels and airlines to offer award miles for van rentals.
Failing to Look at the Pricing Structures
Rental agencies reward longer keeps. Most have weekly rates that are more cost-effective than a daily basis.
For instance, a 3-day rental could be sixty dollars per day, while a weekly contract could be thirty dollars per day. Most agencies define a week as five days. Although it is crazy, the 5-day rental could be cheaper than or even the same cost as the 3-day keep.
Remember to look at the available rates when determining the best rental duration. Do not just focus on your needs for the van and then book for that given timeframe.
Fuel costs also use this approach. While some agencies will provide you a full tank and expect the same upon taking back, others will give you a half-tank of gasoline and expect the same level when returning. Failing to do so attracts a penalty. You will either donate gas to the agency or pay a refueling penalty.
Car rental companies know these plans will work in their favor. Chances are you will not hit the estimate appropriately, and the company will benefit from the miscalculation.
Ensure you comprehend the pricing options before signing the contract.
Paying for Gasoline in Advance
Prepaid gas charges simplify traveling. It also addresses the concern of being late for your flight. As a result, rental agencies have car refueling options and offer them at the counter.
More often than not, it is not wise to pay for the gas that you’ll use when renting the van. Usually, the rental agency has a surcharge, and it could cost you huge sums of money depending on the miles you travel.
Standard vehicle use rules may help. Because you might fill up once on the trip, it is easy to stop at the gas station before driving off.
Failing to Take Note of a Gas Station on Your Way Back
The most effective time to locate a gas station is after picking the van. As you drive away from the rental company or airport, remember to take note of the gasoline stations and plan to return to the best-priced or most accessible at the end of the itinerary. The airport neighborhoods are confusing, and the last thing you want is going in circles in search of a gasoline station as the flight time approaches.
Booking Your Van Rental with Mileage
There is nothing wrong with renting a van with a mileage limit. However, the issue lies when:
- You exceed the limit without knowing it and incur an extra cost, or
- You are not aware of it and want something else.
A mileage limit means you aren’t permitted to drive more than the limit in a day. Therefore, if you are staying for five days and have a mileage limit of 250 miles in a day, you can’t drive fifty more miles at the time of your stay without receiving a penalty from the van rental company.
Thinking That Booking Your Van in Your Destination Rather than Online will Save you Money
Most people believe that if they rent their van after they reach Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas, they will save money. That is not always the case. It’s cheaper to rent the van from your home than it is to wait until you reach your destination.
Many reputable car rental agencies are now affiliated with other rental agencies. That means going directly to an agency doesn’t mean you will get a better deal. Additionally, waiting until the last-minute means limited rates and options.
Hiring a Van Without Insurance
While it is a mistake to buy unnecessary insurance, it is a more significant mistake to rent a van without insurance. Should an accident occur, you might find yourself paying costly repairs and bills.
Moreover, the agency will charge you for the inability to make money while the car is out of service. If your credit card or insurance policy does not offer the coverage, it is wise to pay for insurance at the vehicle rental counter.
Find a Reliable Van Rental Company Near Me
Hiring a van can be simultaneously challenging and exciting for both first-time and veteran travelers. A vehicle rental brings a world of possibilities when you travel. However, to ensure you feel the sense of adventure without a downside, there are pitfalls you should avoid. You need a rental company that will advise you beforehand on what to expect after renting a van. Get in touch with State Van Rental at 888-826-5212 for reliable van rental services that are cost-effective. We serve Los Angeles and San Francisco in CA and Las Vegas in NV.