Travel Tips to Keep In Mind Before Renting a Car in the USA

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A good car loaded with good features is what you need to travel in the city, countryside or on a motorway comfortably and seamlessly.  If you own a car then you don’t need to rent a car but you might want to rent a car at times when your own car breaks down or when you are a foreign tourist in a new country.

From the US perspective I’m going to list some useful tips that you need to put into practice before you rent a car for a seamless travel, so my blog is relevant for both US locals and foreign visitors who would want to rent a car in the USA.

Cars in the US are Left Hand Drives

First off, all cars in the US are left hand drives, so if you are a tourist from a country like United Kingdom where cars are right hand drives then driving in the US may be very difficult and not advisable. It can be confusing and dangerous for UK foreign tourists who are used to driving cars by keeping to the left of the road in their homeland unlike in the US where people are used to driving by keeping the car to the right of the road on a two way road. However if you are an ace driver and if you think you can take this challenge then we don’t want to stop you from renting one!

Automatic Transmission vs Manual Transmission

The choice of choosing the right car can make a huge difference to your road trip, you can choose from a wide selection of cars like compact, semi compact, sedan, SUV, mini-van, van or RV (Recreational Vehicle). All motor vehicles falling in the categories listed above come in two variants of transmission: automatic and manual fitted with a standard Air Conditioner and a quality audio system, in the US automatic cars are preferred by the local people and finding a manual car for rent may not sound practical because they aren’t used at all. Select the ideal car that fits your budget and purpose, for instance if you are a large group of people planning to hit the country side then choosing an RV (Recreational Vehicle) is better than choosing a van.

You need a valid homeland Driver’s License 

When you want to rent out a car you need to possess a valid driver’s license from any country and a valid credit card in your name to be eligible to rent one from one of the car rental agencies in the USA. Some car rental agencies require you to meet an additional condition that you must be at least 25 years old to rent a car. Let me make one point clear, foreign tourists need not have an International license to drive in the USA, having an international license only helps in the event when it is hard to validate your own country’s driver’s license due to reasons like unrecognizable language on the license card.

Make sure you have the right car rental insurance in place

When you rent a car in the US having car rental insurance is a must to stay insured against damages caused in the event of an accident. Most car rental agencies will try to push additional things on to your car rental insurance, my advice to you is just buy the basic policy that will cover your out of pocket expenses during an accident or an emergency of your road trip. There are basically two types of car rental insurances in most US states: CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) and LDW (Loss Damage Waiver) that covers your financial responsibility during damage to your rented vehicle provided you don’t violate the terms and conditions of the car rental agreement. Just a word of advice some credit card merchants like American Express Dollar card offer free car rental insurance when you purchase a car rental through them, this means it would be a waste of money to buy car rental insurance from the renting agency if you possess one of these cards from select merchants. Sometimes your own car insurance that you possess may cover the car rental insurance for free so be aware of the two special cases that I just listed, the bottom line is you shouldn’t pay twice for your car rental insurance. Just check with your credit card provider if they offer this for free.

Insist on a car equipped with proper GPS 

Renting a car with a proper GPS can enhance your travel experience, for a hassle free journey we advise you to shell out a few extra dollars if possible and hire a car equipped with GPS (Global Positioning System) that lets you key in the address of your destination for step by step visual directions. Just select a car with a proper GPS tool for a seamless travel journey.

Make sure your car has car restraint seats for children

If you are traveling with children below 2 years please make sure your rental car is equipped with car restraint seats which will ensure safety of your child, not adhering to the local US laws may result in unpleasant travel experiences and unwanted fines. Make sure you comply with all the legal laws required by the authorities.

Choosing the right car rental agency makes the difference

Car rental agencies are very competitive in the USA and are spread across the country so you will be finding the major players having offices across the states of USA. Look for bargain deals and try to choose the right agency which offers the best deal of the day and keep loyalty aside you don’t have to stick to just one car rental agency. Checking deals on the internet is one good way of comparing prices and offers before finalizing and walking into a brick & mortar office of an agency to rent a car. Another word of advice for you is avoid renting a car from the car rental agencies in the US airports as they are likely to be very expensive, try renting from the city downtowns for leveraging cheaper car rental fares.

Check the level of the fuel tank gauge before renting the car

In the US the car rental agencies generally mark the level of your car fuel gauge at the time of renting out the car and they would expect you to return the car back in the same condition with the same amount of fuel. Our advice for you is just request the car renting agency to give you a car that has a tank fully filled with fuel so that when you are returning you can fill the remaining tank to make it full, this way you can be sure of not wasting any extra money on fuel. If you ask the agency to refuel on your behalf they will be charging exorbitant amounts, almost twice the amount you would otherwise pay for refueling on your own.

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