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Renting Your Road Trip: Tips to Quick Car Rentals

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For Women & Co., by Lauren Hall

Maybe you're a consummate urbanite who doesn't own a car, or perhaps you simply want to do a road trip with a newer, larger vehicle. Either way, renting can be an option this summer when you're ready to hit the open road, as long as you keep a few points in mind.

Types of Rentals

Are you looking for a quick afternoon getaway or a long haul trip? Different rental companies have different strengths, so if you're going to do a short trip consider an hourly rental service like Zipcar or Connect by Hertz. While these services require an application fee and annual fee, they may be ideal if you have the occasional urge to get out of town. For longer trips, ensure that your rental provider allows out-of-state travel, and check to see if they will review your driving record: rental companies can deny cars to drivers with recent seatbelt violations, or people who have been convicted of driving with an invalid license -- even if they have a confirmed reservation.

Are You Covered?

Signing up for the alphabet soup of protection a rental company offers -- CDW (Collision Damage Waiver), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance) and PEC (Personal Effects Coverage) -- can sound like a good idea, but your medical, homeowners and/or auto insurance coverage may already have you taken care of. It's worth it to give your insurance providers a call to see what coverage you're already paying for. In addition, the credit card you use may already provide the coverage you want. Do your homework before you step up to the rental desk, and you could save money!

When to Pre-Pay

Unless you know that you will be absolutely pressed for time, pre-paying for gasoline on a rental car is usually not a good idea. If you're concerned about finding a gas station close to your rental drop off, use a helpful free app like GasBuddy. On the other hand, it's often worth it to pre-pay for your rental: many companies offer a significant discount if you pay for your rental in advance.

Great Summer Deals

If you belong to an organization like AAA or a have a credit card that offers tools and resources in addition to giving credit, like some Citi cards, you can be eligible for car rental insurance coverage as well as significant discounts with certain rental providers. With the number of promotions and loyalty programs available today, you can be able to enjoy the freedom of the open road while getting the best bang for your buck. Just remember to read the fine print that comes with any promotions or loyalty programs, as each one offers different benefits and may have certain restrictions.

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