Car rental 'gotcha's' | News
Ahead of Thanksgiving travel, consumer advocate Clark Howard of Atlanta warned consumers to consult their auto insurance policies and credit card protections before falling for these car rental 'gotcha's':
* COLLISION DAMAGE WAIVER. "Be sure to find out if your auto insurer covers you for temporary use of a rental car," said Howard. "That should always be your first line of defense against ...a CDW."
Howard said the CDW is also known by the codes LDW and PDW. He said many credit cards offer this coverage, too, so consult both your insurance policy and your card's benefits summary before a rental agent talks you into buying the waiver.
* PERSONAL EFFECTS COVERAGE. It's intended to cover you in case something's stolen from your rental car. Howard said again, most auto policies and credit cards cover the holder's personal effects.
* PREPAY FOR TANK OF FUEL. "Always decline to prepay," said Howard, "and always fill up the car yourself before you turn it back in. If you choose to prepay, you may be charged two to three times more in service charges than the going rate of gasoline."
* DAILY ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE FEE. Your auto policy may already include roadside assistance, not only for your covered vehicle, but also for rentals. Howard said this should only be considered if your policy or credit card does not include the benefit and if you're keeping the car for 10 days or more.
"If you have a car for 10 days or longer, you'd probably be better off with a simple AAA membership that will cover you in your regular vehicle for the entire year," he said.