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AAA Card Rental Tips

Does your rental car have antilock brakes? Is it equipped with dual air bags? Is there an early drop-off charge? These queries and seven others make up AAA’s top 10 questions to ask when renting a car for this summer’s road trip.

“Knowing the right things to ask ahead of time can mean the difference between a safe and memorable vacation and one you’d much rather forget!” said Tom Wilt, director, AAA Partner Sales.

AAA’s top 10 car rental questions are not ranked in order of importance and are not intended to be an all-inclusive list.

1. Before making the reservation, ask your insurance agent if your personal insurance policy covers collision and liability for rental cars. Ask if it has limitations or deductibles that apply. Check with your credit card company to inquire about rental car coverage.

2. When making the reservation, ask if you are entitled to membership or employee discounts or benefits. For example, AAA members can receive up to a 20 percent discount with Hertz, in addition to other benefits such as special upgrades, dollars-off coupons and exemptions from certain charges. To get the best rates available, call at least two weeks in advance.

3. Ask about the cancellation policy and what the charges would be if you returned the car earlier than the time of the reservation. Some companies charge for early drop-off.

4. Ask the agent for your reservation confirmation number — write it down — and have it handy when you pick up the car.

5. At time of pick up, ask if the car has antilock brakes. If it does — and more than 50 percent of today’s rental fleets do — the driver should practice in a remote location by jamming on the brakes at moderate speed. The pedal will vibrate, but the driver should continue steering with the brakes on. Do not pump the brakes — it will disengage the braking system.

6. Upon pick-up, ask whether the rental car has driver or dual air bags. Air bags are designed to work in concert with seat belts. Every passenger should be pr.ply belted and children 12 and under should ride in the back seat. Rear-facing infant seats should always go in the back.

7. Ask if your driving record may be checked. Most major car rental companies are performing motor vehicle record checks on renters and additional drivers in certain states. Because the screening is done at the time of pick up — not when the reservation is made — drivers should be aware that they could be denied service based on the findings.

8. Inquire about refueling choices. Most car rental firms offer several options: purchase the fuel at time of rental, refill the tank before returning the car or return the car with less than full tank of gas and pay the refueling charge. AAA recommends refilling before returning the car to avoid the upfront fuel purchase or the normally expensive refueling charge.

9. Ask what time the car must be returned and whether you will be charged, if late, for a partial or full day. If it’s a location that is not open 24 hours-a-day, know the hours of operation and procedure for after-hours drop-off.

10. Before leaving the rental car lot, walk around the car to check for damages. If there are damages, note them on the rental agreement and notify an employee of the car’s condition.

AAA is a not-for-profit federation of 99 clubs, providing nearly 40 million members with a full-line of travel, insurance, financial and auto related services.

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