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ASTA Helps Boost Car Rentals and Drive VacationsMarch 1, 2010 By: George Dooley
Renting a car can enhance the flexibility of any trip, be it business or leisure, ASTA says, offering consumer tips on renting a car and drive vacations. To make it easier for consumers ASTA has provided some car rental tips and car rental advice on its consumer web site, TravelSense.org. The information is part of ASTA’s ongoing program to inform travelers - and agents - of travel opportunities.
“From stopping the mail to remembering to turn on their Out of Office response, today’s traveler has hundreds of things to remember and plan before taking off. Working with a professional travel consultant to help arrange the many details of your next trip is a no-brainer,” said Chris Russo, ASTA president and chair. “Travel consultants are there for their clients before, during and after the trip.”
ASTA’s advice for consumers, include:
* Leverage your contacts. Work with your ASTA travel consultant to help find the right car rental firm for you. A travel consultant can save you the time and effort of finding the best rate and car. Also, a travel agent may be aware of promotional rates and special programs that may not be advertised to the general public.
* Read the fine print. Additional charges may be added to the rental price, including gasoline, car rental taxes and drop-off charges, an extra fee usually charged if a car is returned to a different city or location than where it was picked up. Be sure to advise your travel professional when making your reservation if you wish to drop off the car at a different location.
* License and registration, please. All car rental companies require a valid driver’s license. Some car rental companies check the driver's history and will deny a car to a customer with a poor driving record. In some foreign countries, an international driver’s license may be required. Usually, car rental companies require renters to be at least 18 years old, but some firms now require a minimum age of 25 years. Similarly, senior citizens over a certain age may not be allowed to rent cars in some cities. Verify the age restrictions with your travel consultant when making your reservation.
* Make sure you’re covered. Check your own car insurance policy. You may already be covered for some of the things which the car rental companies will ask you about such as collision insurance and theft.
* Cash or credit? If you do not have a credit card, most car rental locations will accept their own pre-paid vouchers issued by an appointed travel consultant. Many car rental companies require a major credit card to guarantee payment even if there is a prepaid voucher or direct billing. If you are paying with a credit card, be aware of your credit card limit; many car rental companies require immediate credit approval before renting the car which can substantially reduce your remaining balance of credit.
* Get it in writing. Your travel consultant will provide you with a voucher or confirmation before your departure. This document should have a confirmation number, the car rental company name, type of car requested, flight information and date. Confirmations help the car rental firms locate customers who have not picked up their reserved car because of flight delays. Usually, a car rental firm will hold a reserved car for several hours before canceling. If you are considering two different flights, be sure to advise the car rental firm.
* Drivers without borders. If you are renting a car abroad, reserve it through your ASTA travel consultant. Be sure to ask your travel consultant whether you need an International Driver's Permit. Also, ask about insurance coverage in each country; U.S. insurance may not be valid in all countries.
* It pays to make plans. Today, most states require car seats for children under four years old. Advance notice is usually required to reserve a car seat and a small fee may be charged for the rental of these seats, so either plan to take your own or work with your travel consultant to make arrangements at your destination. Additionally, many car rental firms have cars or vans that are accessible for customers with physical disabilities. Be sure to let your travel consultant know of your needs in advance to ensure that an accessible vehicle is available.
ASTA reminds consumers that they can find a professional travel consultant who can help them at TravelSense.org’s ‘Find a Travel Agent’ search directory, or request a free trip quote online.