Stupid Tip of the Day: Why the Lowest Rental Car Rates are Not Always a Good Value

You decide you want to rent a car at your destination, as you find it is the most appealing option — especially as the advertised rates are too irresistible to ignore. After all, few transportation options seem to give you as much freedom as renting a car…

Stupid Tip of the Day: Why the Lowest Rental Car Rates are Not Always a Good Value

Ford Fiesta rental car

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

…but if you were to check one thing which could derail what might have been a potentially valuable bargain, that would be the mileage. Most of the time, rental cars in the United States come with unlimited miles as part of the rate; and customers rarely have to think twice about renting a vehicle for that incredible road trip.

Penske trucks

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Rent a truck to move belongings within the United States, and you may be in for a shock: you may be allotted a certain amount of miles before the meter runs on charging you a specific amount of money per mile driven — and that can be potentially expensive if you plan on moving your belongings over a long distance. This article — which I wrote — details what to expect when renting a truck to move your belongings.

Certain rental car companies at certain destinations will offer what appears to be a great deal — but they may not automatically include unlimited mileage in their rates. The rate of the rental, the rate per mile, and how far you intend to drive the vehicle overall will depend on which is the better deal for you: a cheaper rate with a certain allotment of miles — or a more expensive rate with unlimited mileage.

Another factor to consider is insurance coverage: some cars will come with limited insurance coverage at no extra cost; while others will have absolutely no insurance coverage. Regardless, ensure that the credit card you are using to pay for the vehicle rental does have insurance coverage in case of an accident.


Dodge Caravan minivan

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

Never rent a vehicle solely on its advertised rate. By doing your research and finding out exactly what is included in the rate — and, more importantly, what is not included — you can save yourself a significant amount of money.

Do not forget that you can rent a car for as low as $7.59 per day one way from much of the northeastern United States — such as New York or Boston, for example — and drive it to ten destinations in Florida this fall. This rate does include unlimited miles.

All photographs ©2015 and ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

3 thoughts on “Stupid Tip of the Day: Why the Lowest Rental Car Rates are Not Always a Good Value”

  1. Miles says:

    Another thing to watch is how car rental companies (over)charge for travel on toll roads. I avoid Budget for that particular reason.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I covered that topic in this article back in 2016, Miles:

      Perhaps I need to revisit it…

  2. Jeff says:

    I also had a bad experience using Priceline this summer where I went through Fox Rent a Car who proceeded to tack on a 25 euro fee when I was at the counter after I declined to use their insurance. This wasn’t calculated in the summary of charges that Priceline displayed when I booked but rather buried in the document that was attached to the fine print link. They also told me at the counter that it was mandatory that I pre paid for a full tank of gas. I spent a lot of time disputing these charges with Priceline/Fox. They finally relented to removing the fuel pre-pay charge but only after I filed a complaint with the BBB and they changed their story twice after first saying that I chose to get the pre-paid tank and then later that they told me up front that I could get the charge removed if I returned the tank full and that I returned it empty (where in reality none of which had happened and I returned the car 3/4ths full).

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