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What Do You Need to Rent a Car?

rental car checklist

To rent a car, you’ll need to bring some important items when collecting the vehicle:

  • It’s important to check the exact terms and conditions for the rental company you’re using, to confirm you’re bringing all the necessary documentation. You will need to present a valid driver’s license for every driver registered for the vehicle.
  • There may be certain charges to pay at this point. For example, premium location fees such as airport surcharges and local taxes. As well as going through these formalities, the staff will offer extras you can hire for your rental vehicle. These can include GPS devices, to make navigation seamless, as well as child seats and snow chains.
  • After this, it’ll be time to pay the security deposit using your credit card, which must be in the renter’s name. This amount will be made available to you again after the rental period is over. Some rental companies will accept debit card payments, but you’ll need to check with them if additional documentation or credit checks will be required.
  • Signing the rental agreement itself is a crucial step. Be sure to look over the wording of the agreement fully before putting your name on the dotted line, paying particular attention to mileage and fuel policies, and any restrictions that can incur extra penalties.

Here are some other things to keep in mind when you rent a car:

woman driving car at sunset

Be On Time

While your car rental company may allow some margin for lateness when collecting your vehicle, it’s always best to try to be on time. That way, there’s no risk of missing out on the exact car type you’re after. If you do think you’re going to be far later than intended – perhaps because of a traffic jam or a flight delay – it’s important to let the branch know. Give them a call and explain the situation, providing the flight number if you’re jetting in. Hopefully, they can keep your designated car waiting for you. At the very least, you may avoid being classified as a “no show” and getting hit with a penalty fee.

Check for Damage

It’s vital to give the rental car a good, thorough look over when you collect it, and note any damage to the body. Be vigilant about even the tiniest flaws and imperfections, such as cracks in the windows, dents to bumpers and wheel rims, and any tears or permanent stains inside the car itself. It’s worth taking photographs of any damage you spot, and reporting it to the staff so they’re aware of any issues before you drive away. This way, if there are any misunderstandings in the future about when the damage occurred, you’ll have proof you’re not liable.

Be Wary About Insurance

You’ll very likely be presented with extra insurance options when you turn up to collect your car at the rental company branch. As mentioned earlier in this guide, you may already be adequately covered by your credit card provider or pre-existing car insurance. So, consider your options and what is and isn’t needed before you actually arrive at the branch – this way, you won’t be swayed and pay extra fees for policies you don’t really need.

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.


Want to know the know most popular places to rent a car in America? These are the top favorites!
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