If you only rent a car a few times a year, Clark says you’re more likely to fall for some of the sneaky sales tactics that rental car companies often use.
But since he rents cars about 30 times a year, Clark has seen just about everything!
Beware of sneaky car rental fees
What he wants you to know is that the people who work behind the rental counter are under enormous pressure to sell you various add-ons, and many of the agents work for commissions, so those extras make them more money.
The New York Times recently told the story of a Payless Car Rental customer who got a $527 bill for a seven-day rental she thought would cost $256. Why? She was charged for personal liability insurance and other charges that she had refused.
Read more: How to save money on a car rental
The lesson from her story is that verbally declining those surcharges is not enough.
Even if you say you don’t want the extras, the agent could ‘accidentally’ check the wrong box on the contract, leaving you responsible for the charges. So before you initial any document, make sure that you really are declining the add-ons.
The most common junk fee is the collision damage waiver (CDW), which is also known by the codes LDW or PDW. To avoid having to hear the entire sales pitch, do your homework before you book a car rental.
Clark says there are two things you need to do:
1. Find out if your auto insurer covers you for temporary use of a rental car. Usually you are covered. We’ve provided links to the policies for some of the major auto insurers, but it’s not a bad idea to give them a call.
2. Your credit card may provide secondary coverage for whatever isn’t covered by your auto insurance policy. So before you make a reservation, call the number on the back of your card to see if you get this benefit.