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Additional Drivers and Prepay Options

pre-pay vs. pay now rental car

One potential dilemma when booking your set of wheels is deciding whether you should prepay car rental before arriving to pick up your vehicle, or simply pay at the counter once you get there. These days, many rental companies will give you the option to pay for a rental car online, at the time of booking, and it’s an important point to consider when preparing for your trip.

Perks of a Prepay Car Rental

The biggest perk of paying for your rental car in advance is the discount you’ll get on the price. This can be anything up to 35% off the base rate, depending on the vehicle, your travel dates, and the rental company’s policies. So, if your travel plans are set in stone, and you don’t see any reason why you might not make the trip, taking the prepay car rental option might be a good way to save both money and time.

However, it’s important to bear in mind that a penalty fee may apply if you cancel your prepaid reservation in the run-up to the scheduled pick-up time. The fee is also likely to be higher if you cancel within 24 hours of the pick-up time. For this reason, if your travel plans are uncertain and liable to change, it might be safer to simply ignore the lure of the discounted price, and just pay at the counter when you arrive.

If you do choose to prepay car rental online, be sure to bring along the credit card used to make the payment when collecting your vehicle.

Can I Add a Driver to My Rental Car?

couple in a convertible car

Traveling with others? It can be a great idea to add another driver to your rental car, especially if road trips are on the agenda. This way, you’ll have someone to share driving duties with. They’ll be able to enjoy getting behind the wheel, and you’ll be given valuable time to rest and rejuvenate in the passenger seat. And if the worst should happen and you fall ill during the trip, you’ll be safe in the knowledge someone else can be the designated driver.

Adding an extra driver shouldn’t be an issue, as long as you ensure that the additional person:

  • Has a valid driver’s license;
  • Is with you when you pick up the rental car;
  • Is old enough to qualify for the rental car category you’ve selected.

additional driver tips

Rental car additional driver fees are something you need to bear in mind, however. Rental car companies will generally apply a daily surcharge when you add drivers to rental cars, though many travelers regard the convenience and reassurance of having a second driver registered for the vehicle as being worth the extra fee.

That said, there are certain circumstances where rental car additional driver fees can be avoided. For example, one of the perks of renting a car in California is that, by law, companies can’t charge fees for extra drivers. Some rental companies may also allow you to add your spouse or domestic partner as an additional driver, free of charge. There may also be special packages available, which include additional drivers at no extra cost. As ever, it pays to do a bit of research beforehand and weigh up the most cost-effective options available.

The information provided in this guide was accurate at the time of publication but is subject to change at any time. Please check your car rental company’s terms for the latest information.
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