Renting a car can be confusing, especially if you are a first-time renter or don't understand the terminology involved. The following information is intended to clarify some car rental industry terminology and provide a guide to car rental for those unfamiliar with the process.
Always ask about charges before you sign your car rental agreement. If you are not sure about a specific charge or have questions about the language on your rental contract, ask questions at the counter. Your friendly Rent-A-Wreck customer service representative will be glad to help.
Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), in states that allow it, is an optional charge that is billed per day. Although many in the car rental industry call it 'collision damage' coverage, it's not technically collision insurance. Rather, it is an agreement that the rental car company, in our case Rent-A-Wreck, will pay for damages to your rented vehicle. By declining the waiver, you accept responsibility for any damages. However, under CDW, the company will not pay for bodily injuries or damages to your personal property. If you do not buy CDW coverage, or are not covered by your personal auto insurance policy, you could be liable for the full value of the car.
Some CDWs exclude coverage under certain circumstances during a car rental. For example, coverage may be revoked if you damage the car when driving it in a negligent manner, if a driver drinks alcohol or if a non-authorized driver operates the car, or if you otherwise void the conditions of the CDW.
The coverage offered by rental car companies may duplicate insurance you have through your auto and homeowner's policies. Read your insurance policies for specifics. If you're not sure about the coverage, call your insurers. If you're traveling on business, your employer may have insurance that covers you. Some credit card companies and motor clubs provide members with free rental protection when you use their cards to pay for rentals, so check with your card before you visit the rental location.
Personal Accident Insurance provides accidental death and medical coverage for the renter and additional passengers during the time they are riding or driving with you. Check your personal car insurance policy to see if it covers car rentals. If your policy covers car rentals, you may not need PAI. This insurance is usually optional.
This coverage provides protection against loss or theft of personal belongings from the rental car. Once again, check your own auto insurance policy to determine whether your coverage includes rental cars.
SLI is an optional excess insurance that protects the renter and other authorized operators against claims made by third parties for bodily injury/death and property damage caused by the use or operation of the rental vehicle. Check with your own auto insurance policy to determine whether additional excess coverage is already provided.
A fuel charge is the amount that most rental car companies charge to your invoice for gasoline. Some companies give you a half-tank at a charge of $10 to $15 and tell you to return the car empty; others fill the tank and charge for the amount of gas you use. Companies that do not charge for the initial tank may ask you to return the car with a full tank. If you don't, you'll be charged the rental company's price for gasoline. Always ask if you are unsure of specific fuel policies at the rental counter.
Mileage fees usually are assessed on a cents-per-mile basis or as a flat fee when you exceed the allotted free mileage cap on your car rental. Knowing approximately how far you will drive will allow you to select the mileage package best for you.
Usually, Rent-A-Wreck requires renters to be at least 18 years old, but some locations may require a minimum age of 25 years. For consumers under 25, a credit card is usually required for payment and the rental rate may be higher. Please contact the individual Rent-A-Wreck car rental location for their specific age policies.
In addition to the daily rental rate and the charges mentioned above, taxes (which vary by state) are also charged. At many airport rental locations, car rental firms may also charge an 'airport surcharge' fee, in addition to normal taxes.
Additional driver fees and underage driver fees are common in the car rental industry. They occur when you share the driving with another person or when a driver is under a certain age (often 25). Check with the Rent-A-Wreck location near you for specific policies.
Out-of-state charges are assessed when you drive the car out of the state in which it was rented.
Equipment-rental fees are imposed when you order extras such as ski racks, CD players, navigation equipment, and other additional equipment that may be available. For specific information on additional equipment, please contact the individual Rent-A-Wreck location for prices and availability.
Rent-A-Wreck does not offer one-way rentals due to the franchised nature of our locations.
Like all car rental companies, Rent-A-Wreck requires a valid state-issued drivers license. International drivers with international licenses are welcome at Rent-A-Wreck; please contact the location from which you'd like to rent your vehicle to make all arrangements in advance. A refundable deposit will be required in most cases when you pick up your Rent-A-Wreck rental car. The deposit charge varies by the length of the rental and the size of the car. It is most often charged to your credit card. Rent-A-Wreck does not process the amount unless you do not return the car as specified in your rental contract. Until you return the car, however, your spending limit on your credit card may be reduced by the amount of the deposit. This may be important if you plan to charge other items to your credit card and are near your credit limit. If you do not have a major credit card, or you do not want to charge the deposit, Rent-A-Wreck may ask for the deposit in cash.
Many, but not all, Rent-A-Wreck locations will rent to cash customers. Most locations will require that cash customers fill out a cash qualification questionnaire at the rental location during normal business hours so that it may be verified. A cash deposit will be required if a credit card is not presented for payment. If you are interested in renting a car using cash, please contact the individual location for their specific prices and policies.
Debit cards or 'check cards' carrying the logo of a major bank processor like VISA or MasterCard that are linked to checking accounts are also accepted as a form of payment at most Rent-A-Wreck locations. If a card like this is used to secure the rental, a deposit will be taken from the checking account linked to the card presented at the time of rental. The deposit will be refunded at the completion of the rental period: once the rental vehicle has been returned, the rental amount paid in full, and the vehicle checked in and processed. Processing the deposit refund through a check or debit card may take as many as ten business days.