Orbit's Travel Blog - 05.01.2023.

Renting a Car for The First Time: 15 Essential Tips

If you're thinking about renting a car for the first time, you should know a few things. The process is usually straightforward, but it's essential to be prepared before booking a car. Here's what you need to know to have the best rental experience:

Car Rental Tips for First-Timers

Renting a car for the first time; Checklist

Read over the rental agreement 

When it comes to renting a car, reading over the rental agreement is essential, although it might not be the most exciting thing to do. Understanding the agreement and knowing all inclusions and other items can play a crucial role in your rent-a-car experience. 

If you do not understand the critical factors in the rental agreement, it can lead to bad experiences when it comes to accidents, damages, and similar occasions. It will also give the rental agency more opportunity to upsell, which you might not need. 

So, our most important advice for those hiring a car for the first time, or even for advanced rental people, is to read the agreement thoroughly and understand the important sections like insurance and excess.

Have enough funds for a security deposit

A security deposit can be a hot topic and create much frustration if we are unaware of it. We all know the shock it can be after a long flight arriving at the rental agency and hearing that they need to block a high amount from your credit card. 

Most car rental companies worldwide will require a security deposit while you have your car on rent. The deposit amount can vary between car categories, companies, and countries. In some countries like Turkey, you will find a relatively low deposit amount of around 500 EUR, and then in Iceland, you can expect a deposit of up to 2800 EUR to be required. 

But it's not all bad news around this topic. For example, you can always find a company that requires no security deposit. In addition, most agencies will offer additional insurance, resulting in lower deductibles and no security deposit requirements. 

If you book your car with Orbit Car Hire, you can easily compare all the car hire agency's deposit amounts. If you are on the car selection site, you can press the "Rental Details" and see the essential information such as the excess amount and security deposit. 

Rental details on Orbit Car Hire

Inspect the vehicle and take photos

After a long flight and waiting by the rental desk, we might be anxious to hit the road. But our recommendation is to take your time here. Then, after you pick up your rental car, make sure to inspect the car well. Even better if you can go over the vehicle with the agent before signing the damage report. 

When you inspect the vehicle, go over all pre-existing damages marked on the damage report. Check the fuel level and mileage status if it matches the agreement. If you notice any damages that are not labelled or unclear on the information, notify the agents and have them mark it on the paper. It will help you have a stress-free return process at the end of your trip. 

After a thorough inspection, make sure that you take photos of the car. Begin by taking pictures of pre-existing damages, fuel level and mileage status. Then also, take pictures of each side of the vehicle and do not forget the top of the car. 

Having photos will have evidence of something unexpected getting found when you return the car. In addition, you will be able to show clear proof of the vehicle's status before you leave the rental parking. 

Honour the pickup and return hours 

We must honour the pickup and return times we booked, which means that paying attention to the hours and dates when looking for deals is something no one should overlook. 

Rental car companies plan their fleet and depend on the renters to honour their timings for future travellers. If the car is returned much later than initially stated, it can cause the rental agency problems. 

Many companies will have a grace period for late pickups. This grace period is, on average, 3 hours but can differ from companies. If you show up after the grace period has expired, the rental company will have considered the rental as a no-show. 

If you return it later than stated on the rental agreement, the rental company can charge you an extra day of rental. So if you might be running late or stuck in traffic, we highly recommend that you give the rental company a call to notify them to avoid unnecessary costs.

Understand the fuel policy 

You can find two different fuel policies when you book a car through Orbit Car Hire. They are full to full and same to same. 

Full to full means that you receive the car with a full tank and return it with a full tank. If you return it with less fuel, you will be charged for missing fuel and a service fee. 

Same to same tells you that you receive the car with a certain amount of fuel, and you return it with the same amount. Most of the time, you will get a car with a full tank, but if not, you bring it back with the same amount of fuel. 

Full to empty is also a policy that very few companies offer. At Orbit, we believe in a fair fuel policy, so we do not provide it on our platform. Full to empty means receiving a car with a full tank and returning it empty. It can also go the other way around. Avoid this policy and select full to full or same to same.

Fuel policy explained on Orbit Car Hire

Know how much you will drive

We all want to get the cheapest car hire deals for our holidays. But the most affordable does not always mean that it will be the most reasonable after your road trips. You can find offers with limited mileage and unlimited mileage. Limited mileage tends to be cheaper, but if you select that type of offer, we recommend that you know the mileage you will drive.

Orbit believes in transparency, and when you compare offers, you will see if the deals are with limited or unlimited mileage. We also display how much the limited offer will be for your rental period to know what to expect quickly.

Keep one main driver 

Adding more drivers to the rental contract will result in higher costs in most cases. So, if you are looking to grab the best deals, try to stick to only one driver per car. Rental agencies will apply an additional fee for additional drivers. Sometimes it is a fee per rental, but it can also be calculated per day, resulting in a much higher rental price.

Know your insurance coverage

Car rental insurance is a topic that can be written about for a long time. It is always good to read up on what type of insurance there is in the country you plan to hire a car to keep it simple. And read about the potential dangers in that country as well. If you plan a trip to Florida, having the basic Collision Damage Waiver might be enough. However, when renting a car in Iceland, you might want to get more coverage than there is to offer to avoid extra fees a small scratch for example. 

Suppose you are looking for detailed guides about car rental insurance. In that case, we recommend our great blogs such as Collision Damage Waiver, Super Collision Damage Waiver, and what is excess in car rental. By reading over these guides, you will get a great understanding of car hire insurance. 

Do not forget to check with your credit card company. Many card companies will offer some great car rental coverage that can be plenty enough for your trip.

One-way car hire costs 

There are both pros and cons to renting a car for a one-way trip. One of the main pros is that it can be more convenient than other transportation methods, such as taking a bus or flying. Renting a car also allows you to change your plans if you need to. However, there are some cons to consider as well. One-way car rentals can be expensive, and they may not be available in all locations. Additionally, you will need to return the car to the rental company when you are finished with your trip.

Renting a car for a one-way trip can be expensive. The average cost of a one-way car rental is $200. This price can vary depending on the type of car you rent, the length of your rental, and the location you are renting. When renting a car for a one-way trip, it is essential to book in advance to get the best price.

Girl on a road trip with a rental car

Avoid extras if possible 

When it comes to extras in car rental, they can be expensive so if you are looking for the cheapest car rental deals, try to avoid the reserves you may be offered. In addition, the quality of the extras provided may not always be the best, so consider what you need and whatnot.

Renting a GPS as an additional extra is something we can all avoid and use our mobile phones as navigation instead. It can also be better as Google Maps or Apple Maps are very detailed and give you secret hints like warnings about speeding cameras and toll roads. 

When it comes to adding extras in car rental, really think if you indeed need them or not before spending the extra money.

Know how to read car rental reviews 

We all know that reviews are a significant deciding factor in booking any service. When you rent a car, reading reviews is no exception. But do not take all feedback for granted. Read over the reviews, and check the bad reviews. On the other hand, do not make 1-star reviews scare you immediately away from the company. 

Many people will give car rental companies lousy feedback, and often it is regarding some things included in the Terms and Conditions that they ignored reading. Feedback like "They charged me extra fuel when I returned it empty" or "They demanded a security deposit to be taken", we will know after reading over the tips above that these things are always written and well-marked when making a reservation. So, make sure that when you judge companies from reviews, read over them and see what is true and what is not.

Avoid prepaid fuel 

Many rental agencies will offer you prepaid fuel when you pick up the vehicle. Although this may sound convenient, really think if you need this or not. It will make your deal more expensive, and you will permanently save money by filling the car before you return it yourself. 

As the agency will apply a service fee and maybe charge a slightly higher rate for the gas, this will not be cheaper. However, this option can be handy if you return it early in the morning and know you will not have time to fill the vehicle.

You book a car category, not a specific model 

Although the companies will display a specific car model, you will always see written "or similar" on the web pages. You can only secure a particular model if it's advertised as "model guaranteed". For example, a rental car company will display a specific model like Volkswagen Golf, but you might receive a similar model.

Similar cars will always be of the same size, engine and seats as the one you booked. So do not expect that you will receive precisely the model specified on your voucher. To understand car categories in car rental, we recommend this excellent guide.

Know what documents you need

There is nothing more frustrating than a long flight, arriving at the rental desk, and being denied the rental car due to a lack of documents. However, when we rent a car, there are documents required from the rental agency so they will be allowed to rent you their vehicle. You can find these requirements for each offer on Orbit Car Hire by pressing the "Rental Details" on the car selection page. 

Essential documents for renting a car: 

  • Driver's license 
  • Passport
  • National ID
  • Voucher 
  • International Driving Permit (Depends on nationality) 
  • DVLA License code (Depends on nationality)
  • A valid credit card in the name of the driver 

If you fail to show up with the required documents, the rental agency can decline your car. So, make sure that you have all the needed documents before heading out on your trip.

a man renting a car and going over agreement

Book in advance 

We all want the best car rental deals when we travel worldwide. The most critical factor in snagging a cheap offer is to book in advance. The closer you are to the pickup period, the higher the prices will likely be. 

Car rental companies plan their pricing depending on demand. So if you are travelling to a country during its high season (for example during the summer), they will increase their prices day by day depending on the volume of bookings received. 

For this reason, you will always find the best deals far into the future. For example, at Orbit, we checked and saw that the prices are typically the best around 6-8 weeks before the rental period. 

How to get cheap car rental deals 

There are a few things that you can do to get cheap rental car deals. First of all, it is essential to shop around and compare prices from different companies. It is also a good idea to book your rental car in advance to get a discount. Another thing that you can do is join a loyalty program with a particular company to get cheaper rates. Finally, it is also essential to ask about any special deals or discounts available.

How Orbit Car Hire can help you

Orbit Car Hire compares over 100 car rental companies in over 25.000 locations. We can provide you with excellent deals worldwide by negotiating the best prices. You can choose between a major international company like Europcar, Sixt or Alamo or compare reliable local rental car companies that provide excellent service. 

Orbit Car Hire is with you throughout the whole rental period. You can always contact us if you have any questions about car rentals and even if you are experiencing some problems during a rental. You can also find us on social media like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest

Contact Orbit Car Hire

Last updated on 5.1.2023

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