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Survival Guide: Renting a Car Abroad

People like to take a vacation in many ways: while some prefer to go to the beach and walk only from the sand to the hotel, others choose to travel thousands of miles in a car and visit various places.

Experienced travelers agree that renting a car is one of the best ways to get to know a region and drive it from end to end. However, doing so entails some pitfalls, which we will tell you about in today’s article.

Choosing a car rental service

Choosing a company to rent a car can be easy and challenging. There are many websites of well-known travel agencies that offer interesting tools to compare prices and, at the same time, let the user see the average score of the service providers based on comments.

It is important at this point to book in advance and secure your reservation when renting a car. A great personal recommendation is to rent with a recognized company, as is the case of City Car Rental, the leading car rental company in Mexico, which in addition to confinable, offers low rates with incredible vehicles. If you want to learn more about this topic or want to get yourself a car you can book it here.


The art of pricing

In their effort to have the best prices, many companies perform incredible and misleading tricks.

One of the most commonly used is playing with fuel. As a rule, when you rent a car in Western countries with a full tank of gas, you have to return it in the same condition. And if the user does not do so, he will have to pay an extra cost for that. It is worth noting that the payment is higher than the cost of the fuel.

In their effort to have the best prices, rental companies such as perform incredible and misleading tricks.

In Eastern countries, however, the approach is different: agencies give out cars with the minimum amount of fuel so that users can refuel as much as they want at the nearest station. Some charge for miles over the limit, to get the car back to another branch, or for cross-border trips (including the European Union, where there are no borders).

These are details that should be considered when thinking about the total cost to be paid. And it may well be that after all the corrections have been made, even the most “accessible” option may not be so at the end of the day. In the U.S., some agencies do not include insurance (not to mention the taxes that are calculated after estimating the total cost). And this is a big problem: in some cases, this concept could exceed the rent per se.


Let’s talk about insurance. Choosing good insurance is paramount. In most cases, liability insurance -the basic one- and insurance that includes deductible amounts (for example, U$S 1,000) will always be present in the plan you choose. So if, for example, because of an accident, the cost of the settlement amounts to U$S 2,000, you would have to pay half.

The latter is important since you will not be able to influence in any way the estimate of the costs of damages incurred since you will probably have already returned home when that happens.

According to CarInsuRent: the basic insurance does not cover damage to windscreens, tires, roof, and bottom of the car, and a lot of other exceptions that are written in the contract in small print at the end of the document.

Cards and dollars

There is only one advantage of obtaining comprehensive insurance coverage with a rental company. When processing the expense, the provider could block a sum of money on your credit card (reimbursable excess and rental expenses. It is worth noting that some tend to block larger amounts.

When you take the car, make sure you have an additional credit card with a good credit limit.
If the car is returned in good condition, the blocked amount is released. However, the process may take dozens of days, so it is best to use a credit card with an extended grace period.

By the way, here are some useful tips regarding cards. When you take the car, make sure you have an extra credit card with a good credit limit. It is often the case that banks reduce transactions abroad in the interest of “greater security”, even if you have paid a lot of money for other things. Calling the bank is not always a good solution. I personally had experienced situations like this; for example, when I was at Barcelona airport: the credit card transaction issued by one of the best banks in Russia was not possible. After an hour of communication – in vain – with Moscow, I gave up and asked my travel companion to pay with his card.

Find the hidden scratches

When you pick up a rental car, check it very carefully for any signs of damage. If there are, make sure these are indicated on the documents. The more scratches are documented, the better: this will help you to receive a complete amnesty for the small scratches you may cause to the car yourself.

It is a good idea, especially in Eastern countries, to take pictures of the rental car from all angles and examine the tires. If a tire explodes after a long journey, it could be an unpleasant surprise.

Leaving an airport by car is usually quite complicated, especially if it is a large international center. So if a GPS device is not included in your rental plan, make sure you take care of this yourself. A smartphone with a mounting kit will suffice. Any free offline mapping application will be an excellent guide for your trip.

The costs of neglect

Before renting a car, you should read all the traffic regulations of the country you are traveling to. Of course, many of the traffic signs and basic rules are universal, (this is not the case for travelers from the United States to Europe). However, you may find yourself in a situation where a small sign with a tiny message in the local language means “limited traffic area with serious consequences for non-residents.

About Michael Farmiga