What you need to know before signing a car rental contract

November 28, 2014

If you've decided to rent a car, you’ll want to learn about some of these important points in your car rental contract.

What you need to know before signing a car rental contract

You've decided to hit the road with a rental car. Before you drive off into the sunset, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with your car rental contract. Take the time to read your contract so that you can avoid any additional fees.

What you should know before you sign a car rental contract

Every rental company’s contract is different, so it’s best to call ahead if you want to discuss some of the details.

  • Rate for your rental. This will probably be your top concern when reading over your contract. It will communicate your daily rate, as long as the starting date and time of your rental. Some companies will charge for an earlier return or a later return. Make sure you pay close attention to these details to avoid getting charged for extra hours or days.
  • Driver requirements. Obviously, the driver must have a valid drivers license at the time of your rental. There may also be an age minimum for renting a car. In many provinces, rental companies require drivers be at least 25 years old. For drivers under 25, there may be additional charges and limitations associated with the rental. Many companies may look into driving records and can turn you away.
  • Kilometres charges. Some rental companies will display how many kilometres are currently showing on the odometer. Your contract may stipulate the maximum amount of kilometres you can rack up per day or for the extent of your rental.
  • Additional drivers. If you have a person other than yourself who will be driving the car, you might be required to pay a fee. Any additional drivers must also meet the driver’s requirements.
  • Gasoline usage. Renters are required to fill the gas tank to certain expressed level. It may be half the tank, or a full tank. Make sure it clearly states how much gas must be in the car when it is returned in order to avoid fees. Keep your receipt so you can present it as proof of your purchase.
  • Geographic restrictions. For most car rental companies there are rules about crossing from Canada into the United States and vice versa. Let your car rental company know what your destination will be so they can properly advise you of the restrictions.
  • Loss or damage of the rental car. Even damage caused by weather or vandalism are the responsibility of the driver (and any additional drivers). This might be a good reason to get car rental insurance to help cover any of these unexpected costs. If you have purchased insurance for the rental car, make sure to understand the limitations of your coverage. You are responsible for at least the cost of the deductible.
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