The Ultimate Guide on How to Rent a Car

The Ultimate Guide on How To Rent a Car

The process to rent a car is designed to be fairly straightforward, but many new drivers or folks who haven’t rented before aren’t sure what to expect or what steps they should take before making a rental reservation. If that sounds like you, good news: this ultimate guide on how to rent your next rental car will answer all your questions and more.

Decide What Car You Need

Firstly, decide the vehicle type you plan to rent. Different types of cars will charge different daily rates, with economy cars like sedans being the cheapest and pickup trucks being the next cheapest. More powerful trucks, minivans, and similar vehicles will be more expensive than those most budget-friendly vehicles with a better price.

If you want style as opposed to pure practicality, sports cars or luxury vehicles are also available at rental car companies like Advantage. However, these cars do cost more on a per-day basis, so keep that in mind when calculating your rental budget. Great cars with additional equipment like a high-tech operating system, GPS, or satellite radio may also cost more.

Shop Around for Prices and Dates

Speaking of your budget, be sure to check multiple locations, even within the same rental company, for prices, daily fees, and available dates. Different locations or lots may charge different prices for the same vehicle depending on vehicle availability. For instance, if a certain truck is available at one location but has to be driven to another, it will be cheaper to rent it from the first spot instead of the second.

Naturally, how long you need to rent the car will also impact the price. Some rental companies will give you a discount if you rent a car for more than a week or up to a month.

Make a Call To Confirm Rental Availability

Once you think you’ve decided on your car and the rental location you’ll visit, give them a call or write an email before booking your rental. Rental listings on websites are sometimes incorrect, and it never hurts to confirm that your chosen rental is actually available before setting everything up.

This way, you’ll save yourself valuable time and money and avoid getting a call saying that your chosen vehicle is actually unavailable since it is in a different lot. Rentals generally have a minimum age, and underage drivers may have to pay a fee. Additional drivers may also be more expensive, and you should take any other restrictions into consideration as well.

Show Up for Your Rental

Once you’ve finalized your rental booking, all you have to do is wait for the date and time to arrive and show up for your rental vehicle. Your chosen rental company will have you meet them at the front office, where you will be presented with paperwork while someone goes to retrieve the vehicle and bring it to the front of the lot.

Sign the Paperwork

At this point, all you need to do is sign the paperwork as provided, which will include the terms and conditions, the dates and times at which you must return your vehicle, and the policy about gas levels. Most rental companies will require you to return the vehicle with as much gas as it had before, like if it was a full tank—otherwise, you’ll face an extra fee for the inconvenience of the company reselling the gas tank themselves. 

When paying for your rental vehicle, remember that car rental companies prefer credit cards over other forms of payment. Some locations will also accept debit cards from well-known credit card companies, cash, or even checks. But they may require additional forms of ID, like a valid driver’s license.

Read the Terms Carefully

As you sign the paperwork provided, be sure to read all the terms and conditions carefully. Some rental companies will try to push extra services or add-ons when you didn’t ask for them. Others, like Advantage Rent-a-Car, are straightforward and upfront about what you’re getting.

You should also read the terms and conditions to make sure there hasn’t been a mistake with your booking details. For instance, if a rental company employee made a typo and set your return date as a day before you intended, you could unintentionally be charged if you sign the paperwork without catching this error.

Get Insurance Coverage (if You Don’t Have Any)

All car rental companies will offer the option of insurance, such as liability insurance, for your rental vehicle. It’s always a good idea to accept this insurance if you don’t have private driver’s insurance already.

Why? If you ever get into an accident with your rental car, even if it’s not your fault, you could be on the hook for hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of damage. If you have insurance, you’ll be covered in the event of an accident or even a minor fender bender.

Rental insurance does cost more than going without, but it provides peace of mind and is ultimately financially safer compared to driving without it. It’s also potentially required depending on your state of residence. 

Car rental companies also commonly provide additional insurance offerings or packages, like protection for your personal effects or a collision damage waiver or loss damage waiver. Consider these as well depending on what your personal driver’s insurance includes in its policy.

Take Your Vehicle

Once all the paperwork is signed and you’ve accepted insurance, you’ll be handed the keys for your new rental vehicle and can head out to the lot to take possession of it. Jump in the car, then do a few things to cover your bases:

  • Make sure that the gas level is what was stated on the paperwork. Take a picture with your phone just in case the rental company tries to dispute this later when the rental ends
  • Take a picture of the mileage just in case, even if you have unlimited mileage
  • Make sure there aren’t any personal effects or strange items in the car

If all looks well, turn the keys and hit the road!

Return Your Vehicle

After your rental is no longer needed, or at the expiration of your rental contract, you’ll need to return your car to the lot you agreed to before. This isn’t always the same lot where you rent a vehicle, so remember to plan your trip accordingly. Additionally, some rental cars have trackers, so you won’t fool the agency if you try to drop them off somewhere else.

When you return the vehicle, you’ll drive it into an anti-parking space, then bring the keys to that location’s front desk. In most cases, you don’t need to do anything else.

Be Sure To Fill the Gas Tank!

Before bringing your car back, fill up the gas tank; otherwise, you could be charged an extra fee. This fee is usually more than it costs to pay for gas for the car, so it’s always worth the extra time it takes out of your day.


There you have it—a step-by-step breakdown of how to rent a car whether you’ve done it before or are looking to rent a fancy car for the first time. Renting a car is meant to be quick and easy, which is why Advantage follows this process to the letter whenever you rent a vehicle from us. 

Even better, we offer a diverse and varied fleet of vehicles, plus tons of convenient pickup locations at many popular airports. Whether you need to rent a car for a day, a week, or even a month, Advantage can help. Contact us today for more information.


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