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Security Alert! Electronic Airline reservations and itineries made on-line are not allowed past security passes at many airports. If you have booked an airline e-ticket online, go to the ticket counter or your airline's curb service before heading to the gate so you can obtain a boarding passes.

Using a debit card: The scoop on whether you can use a debit card is still fuzzy and not clear cut. The policy is still "location dependent" so it's hard to nail down. Alamo accepts debit cards with the Visa or Mastercard logo and a Round trip travel ticket, but restricts certain locations. Dollar requires an acceptable credit check with debit cards. At a few limited locations, Thrifty and some local Enterprise offices may accept debit cards. These policies may change at any time. There are a few small independents that allow cash deposits. With the use of a debt card, the agency may require a credit check. Many airports are adding Security charges to their airport fees which are in turn passed on to the renter when renting a car at the airport. BreezeNet's 11th Hour/Spur of the Moment Specials change frequently and are updated weekly. These can represent some of the very best values at in the industry. Please note, 11th Hour Specials are limited to specific locations and small time frames. Car rental rates can be more competitive than airline rates! They change frequently because of supply, demand and location availability. This may result in a great opportunity for savings on your trip. See our Snapshot Rate sections at many airport pages for a sample of rates at a specific time and location. Also, the Rate Comparison Tool is offered at several Airport pages to allow YOUR specific travel location, dates and times to be entered.
Agencies that market to the business traveler may have lower rates on the weekend than during the week. Other companies that market to the leisure vacationer have the lowest rates if you include days in your rental during the week (monday-thursday).

Knowing the Airport Code can be a shortcut to obtaining your online rate and reservation. Did you know that MCO means Orlando International Airport and APO means "Airport Offsite"? Since Major agencies have 100's of locations, it is important to fill out the booking forms accurately so that a car is waiting at the destination of your choice! For a list of airport codes: Click Here

Some upper level credit cards such as MasterCard Gold may be a source for excess or secondary insurance for a car rental, but only if you use the same credit card to rent the vehicle. Some upper level credit cards can be your primary collision coverage in absence of any personal car collision insurance or when you are traveling overseas where your personal insurance will not apply. Since these policies vary, call your credit card company to find out their policies for car rentals. More information on subject.
It can be confusing, but be aware that when you are quoted a "base rental car rate" it does not include sales taxes, airport taxes, airport/concession, vehicle leasing fees (vlf), rental coverages, etc. These charges can increase the total rate by 10-40%. Some airports do not have all these fees..but some do. Denver DIA's airport concession fee is currently $1.60/day + sales tax and a 10% airport sales tax on top of all this. This increases a $169/wk "Base Rate" to a total of $224-269/wk+- without coverages and is 30-40% more than the base wkly rate. "Base rental rates" are listed on our "Snapshot of Rates" section at many bnm airports and can change frequently.
Be aware of the "24 hour clock rate" most rental car companies utilize for daily rates when determining your final bill. For example.. On a one day rental, returning your car more than 24 hours after your pickup time.. means a full extra day may be charged to you. This policy varies from company to company. Most rental car companies use only a 1-2 hr grace period before you are charged an entire additional day when returning a car later than what your rental contract states.

If your rental breaks down or you get a flat, 24 Hour Roadside Assistance, is offered at the Major Rental Car Companies such as Dollar and National. For National call 1-800-367-6767 and for Dollar call 1-800-800-800-4000 if you run into car trouble.

A Senior Discount for AARP Members is honored when available at many Dollar, Hertz and National locations. This discount if available, is from 5-20% but may not be applicable if combined with another discount. Call your agency to clarify the AARP Senior Discount.

No Smoking Permitted Vehicle Can't stand a car that has been smoked in? Dollar offers "No Smoking" Vehicles.

If you are renting a more expensive vehicle such as a Sport Utility or Luxury car your credit card may not provide collision coverage for these higher priced rentals. It is best to check directly with your credit card company regarding which vehicles they will cover before counting on your credit card to cover for collision damage or theft during your rental.

Most major rental car companies offer child safety and infant seats for rent. Please be sure you reserve these ahead of time! The daily charge for a car seat is anywhere from $2-$10 per day.

Check the state laws for where you are traveling. For instance, a new law in Denver requires Booster Seats for all 4 and 5 year olds who are not 55 inches tall.

Hertz's "Buckle-Up Baby" can take the worry out of installing an unfamiliar car seat! They have teamed with the National Safety Council and have trained car seat installers on hand.

If you want to pick up a car in one state and drop it off in another state, be prepared to pay a significant drop off fee. The further away the drop off location is from your pickup point, usually the higher the drop off charge will be. It may be as high as $1000-$1500 for cross country drop offs!

Good news for travelers who want to rent with a debit card and not a credit card! Alamo accepts debit cards with the Visa or Mastercard logo.

If possible, reserve your car with a weekly rate to get the best deal. Weekly rates usually means keeping the car from 5-7 days. These rates can vary widely between agencies at the same location! See Tampa Rate Snap Shot for an example.

Rates also vary a great deal from city to city. For example the highest rates for an economy car are at New York's La Guardia Airport where economy cars can range from $190-$349/wk. Car rental agencies vary their rates from city to city because of supply and demand.

See International Travel Tips for travel tips and advice submitted by people just like you. Hints for packing; safety advisories; wardrobe and clothing suggestions; passport pointers; reference books - and more!

Frequently Asked Questions
Joe's Travel Advice Rental Car Tips

  • Question: What are "rate snapshots" on

    Answer: BreezeNet's Guide to Airport Rental Cars i.e. or runs weekly snap shots of rental car agency rates at major airports. These rates are daily and weekly base rates meaning they do not include taxes, airport fees or the options you may choose when renting your vehicle. These snapshots are a survey or sample of rates for advanced reservations made on a given day for selected days and weeks (usually two) for a given time period. Since rates can change frequently based on supply and demand the rate you get when trying to book may be different. Sorry but rates do change.

  • Question: Can I pick my car up at one location and return it to another location?

    Answer: Yes, most of the time if your rental car company has a corresponding location at your drop off destination. Usually you will pay an additional drop off fee or charge. Some companies like Hertz will include their drop off cost in the rental rates. There is normally no general rule or policy and you will need to inquire directly with a rental car company for a specific "drop off" rental. An agency will use numerous factors when allowing drop offs at different locations and what the drop off fee amount (varies widely) will be. Some factors that come into play are the number of miles involved, number of days needed, car class, a particular franchise's policy as well as other variables. At the time of this writing, for cars picked up at one Florida location and returned to another Florida location, Alamo is not charging a Florida drop off fee.

  • Question: Can I rent a car with a debit card instead of a credit card?

    Answer: Alamo will accept debit cards with the Visa or Mastercard logo provided a round trip travel ticket is provided. Dollar accepts them in many locations with a credit check.

  • Question: What is a "drop-off fee"?

    Answer: A drop-off fee or charge is usually applied if you return the vehicle to a different location from where you picked up the vehicle. This fee is waived if the company allows "one-way drop-offs" at particular locations.

  • Question: Do rental car companies provide or offer infant or child safety seats with my car rental?

    Answer: Most of the major rental car companies offer both infant and child safety seats. You will need to reserve these in advance to insure you have one during your trip. They are usually anywhere from $2-$10 per day on top of your basic rental charges.

  • Question: What if my driving record is less than perfect? Will they check for DUI's etc?

    Answer: Although most of the time they will not run a background check on your driving record you will need a valid drivers license. Some companies check driving records when customers arrive at the counter. You may be disqualified from renting from an agency that applies this policy because of your driving record even with a confirmation! If your record is marginal, it is best for you to check with the rental car agency in advance on whether they will check your driving record at the counter.

  • Question: Why do rental car rates change so often?

    Answer: Most rental car companies use a rate system called "yield management". This system is based on supply (availability) and demand. Rates can change by the day, hour and even minute based on these factors. Our Low Rate Section is a "snap shot" survey made on a given date for a given duration if you reserved at that time. Internet coupon rates if available, are usually more stable.

  • Question: Do rental car rates I'm given cover all of my costs?

    Answer: Not normally. On top of your rate you may pay for airport surcharges applied to some locations, insurance if needed, mileage if not unlimited and of course sales tax.

  • Question: When renting a car, should I accept the insurance offered by an agency?

    Answer: It depends. Find out before you leave what your personal or corporate auto insurance policy will cover since these insurance options are expensive. There's a good chance you're already covered for the collision risk. Some credit cards cover collision but it may only be a secondary coverage. Other credit cards provide primary collision coverage if you do not have collision coverage with your personal auto insurance. Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) is extra insurance priced up to $16 a day so check before you leave! Here are some important questions to ask your insurance carrier or credit card company before you step up to the rental counter:

    1. Does my personal auto insurance policy cover any damage to a rental car?
    2. Does my personal homeowners policy cover the theft of my personal property from a rental car?
    3. Does either my personal auto insurance, homeowners insurance or employee medical insurance cover injuries from an accident in a rental car?
    4. Does my credit card cover me for damages done to a rental car or for third party liability?

    Don't drive unprotected under any circumstance. If you are not already covered through an existing policy or charge card, buy the car rental company's collision and liability insurance. These allow the renter's financial responsibility for damage to the rented vehicle to be waived. There is generally a per day charge for this option. Most car rental companies do not provide primary liability with the rental. See also Insurance and Gas

  • Does the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) offered by the rental car agency cover the damages made to another car I hit (third party damages)?

    Answer: No, not in most cases. Your personal or corporate auto insurance normally covers your liability in damages to another car. You should check with your insurance agent to see if this is the case. If you don't have your own coverage you should buy the liability coverage offered by the rental agency.
    Rental Car Guide Feedback: "The people who visit your site should be made aware that there is a difference between CDW and LDW. CDW usually only covers the customer in the event of an accident (collision), while the LDW usually covers any loss to the rental company. This includes glass and tire damage, vandalism, theft, and "loss of use". "Loss of use" is when the car is being repaired for any damage related to the customer, the rental company will continue to charge the customer. Many credit cards and insurance do not cover these other charges. So, it is important for people to ask there insurance agents and credit companies specific questions, not just "Am I covered?". Of course, no coverage will be of use if you are in violation of the rental agreement. This includes unauthorized drivers. Thanks for the space."

  • Question: Do you have to be a certain age to rent a car?

    Answer: Yes. Most agencies require that you at least be the golden age of 25. Exceptions: The good news is if you are under 25, but over 21 years of age, you may be allowed to rent at some locations. The bad news is that you will be charged an additional daily fee. Alamo, Dollar, Enterprise and Thrifty are some agencies that follow this policy at many of their locations. Other agencies may require that you are in the government, military or have a special corporate account to qualify under the age of 25. Many smaller local rental car companies allow drivers 21 years or older and some even allow drivers 18 years or older. Most require a young driver surcharge in these cases. Check first!

  • Question: Are you required to have a credit card?

    Answer: For all practical purposes yes, although some small local companies do not require credit cards as part of their policy and Alamo will accept debit cards with the Visa or Mastercard logo only. Most of the time you will have to "cash qualify" if the location and agency allows it. This can take anywhere between 2-30 days. Some companies charge an administrative fee for a credit check and others require you leave a large cash deposit and possibly a return transportation ticket (air or cruise).

  • Question: Do credit cards offer car rental insurance or coverage?

    Answer: Some upper level cards (gold, platinum) will provide secondary collision coverage and in some cases primary collision coverage when renting a car if you do not have you own car insurance or when renting in another country. Secondary or excess coverage kicks in after your personal car insurance has been exhausted. These features can really be handy but may not apply to sport utility vehicles, luxury cars and some vans. Also their coverage may apply only to collision and not to other liabilities. Call you credit card company to find out for sure.

  • Question: Do most agencies allow for unlimited mileage?

    Answer: Most of the "major companies" offer unlimited mileage within the same state you rented the car. This policy can vary at each location, within the same company or agency, so it is best to check beforehand. More expensive rentals such as luxury cars and sport utilities are more apt to have limited free mileage policies.

  • Question: Does a weekly rate mean you need to keep the car for 7 days?

    Answer: The weekly rate for most rental car companies apply for rentals of 5-7 days. Some companies require 7 day rentals. If you think you'll need the car at least 5 days it's usually wise to book the weekly rate!

  • Question: With a weekly rate, if I need to keep my car longer than 7 days does my daily rate change?

    Answer: Yes, extending your rental term almost always means a much higher rate for those "extra days". If you're not exactly sure how long you will need a car, it's better to reserve the car for a longer period and bring it back earlier.

  • Question: Should I accept the "fuel or gasoline purchase plan" an agency offers?

    Answer: No, unless you think you'll be in a hurry and can bring the car back near empty. Accepting this option means you're paying for refilling the car (after return) in your contract and any fuel left in the tank upon return you are paying twice for! You're usually better off by declining this option and refilling the car before you return it. By doing this, you will not have to pay the high fuel costs ($3.00/gallon on an average) they will charge you for refilling the tank.

  • Question: Do companies charge for "additional drivers"?

    Answer: Yes, some do. The policy for most companies is that your husband or wife can drive also at no extra cost. Some companies may add a daily rate ($4-10/day) or a flat fee/rental for extra drivers. If you're not going to be the only driver, shop around to find a rental company that doesn't access an extra driver charge.

  • Question: If I'm from overseas, will rental car companies accept an "International Driver's Permit/License"?

    Answer: Yes, a few do. Some companies accept an International Driver's Permit only. Most larger companies require you to have a valid, up-to-date driver's licensed issued by the country of which you are a citizen. Please inquire with the rental car company first!

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