TRAVEL with pat and lew

car rentals

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 21, 2007


I make car rental reservations far in advance, either directly at the car rental company sites (most often or at Expedia (, where I can see all of the companies which serve the location I’m interested in, and compare prices. Both Budget and Expedia have user-friendly reservation systems, especially once you’ve used them several times and are familiar with them.

Yesterday’s car reservations included Philadelphia (May), Barcelona (later in May), Perpignan (for Nice in June), Rouen (for Normandy in June), and Ireland (July).

cancellation charges

Expedia does not charge a fee for cancelled or modified car rental reservations, unless these are bundled in a reservation with flights, in which case cancellation and change fees do apply. There are no charges for cancelled or modified car rentals at any of the company sites. Credit cards are not charged for car rentals until you return the car. So there’s no penalty for making reservations well in advance.

keeping records

With the amount of travel we do, it would be impossible for me to keep it all straight if I didn’t record things in an orderly and timely way. As soon as I make the new reservations, I record all the details (pickup and return times and places, type of car, and cost) in the appropriate calendar date in my Microsoft Outlook. I also update my travel budget, which I keep on an Excel spreadsheet, replacing the estimated cost with the actual cost. Before we actually travel, I’ll print out the appropriate reservation pages (car rental, air, hotels) to carry with me.

collision damage waiver

My Citibank MasterCard provides insurance for any damage to a rental vehicle. There is no additional cost for this insurance. However, if you accept the collision damage waiver insurance from the car company, Citibank won’t pay. Thus, you will incur extra cost for insurance you don’t need, and if you have an accident, will have to pay whatever deductible the car company includes with its insurance. This happened to me once, and it took me a year to get my money back, which I only did because Citibank had failed to properly advise me when I questioned them in advance on this precise point. So check with your credit card company to find out if they provide this insurance and what the conditions are.

other car insurance

None of the issues about collision damage insurance has anything to do with liability insurance, contents insurance, or any other insurance offered by the car rental company. In Europe, it seems that liability insurance is automatically included in the rental rate. I usually take the liability insurance (if it’s not included) and decline all other insurance, including the collision damage waiver.

Always make sure, at the counter, before you take your car, that you are getting the insurance you want. So far, by the way, I have never met a car rental agent in any country who did not speak English.



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