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US car hire for 8 weeks - advice and tips please!

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thehound

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Hi everyone,

I'm moving to Toronto for work next year with my wife and baby, and we're doing a driving trip encompassing New York, New England and Washington DC for 7 weeks prior to starting.

So I need to book a car for the two month trip, picking up in New York City on 27 April and dropping off in Washington DC on 16 June 2015. We'll probably need a small SUV like a Ford Escape for the trip. The plan is to buy a baby seat and a GPS once we arrive in NYC (hiring them is more expensive than buying it seems).

Can anyone please help me with advice about which companies to look at, and whether I want to be booking them using US websites or international websites (there seem to be differences regarding the insurance that is included). A quick look also suggests that there are more options picking up and dropping off from airports rather than at non-airport locations - this is probably less convenient but if it gives the right price then we'd consider it. Both my wife and I would need to be listed as drivers.

Finally, does anyone have any clever ideas on minimising cost, for example with certain discount codes or via certain websites? A search reveals a wide range of prices available, often different by more than $1000!

Many thanks for any suggestions!
 

TiredOldFlyer

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Airport location rentals attract a "premium location" fee so off airport is less expensive.
Insurance in the US can be very expensive so use a credit card that has car rental excess cover.
Again some states have different insurance requirements so some research is necessary.
Watch out for re-location fees !
i would pre book before departure on a site that that does not require payment or cancellation
fees ( for example Avis but there are others) and then when in New York look around for a better deal.
I have used this method several times in the US, it is time consuming but can save plenty.
 

RooFlyer

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Agree completely with TiredOldFlyer.

Be prepared for the actual cost to be higher than the on-web estimated cost. Often the 'estimated' cost excludes taxes and some other non-avoidable charges. Watch how the totals add up during the booking process.

Small point: many times in the US they don't even give you a 'vehicle condition form' (where you note scratches etc) when picking up the keys. In the rush/chaos of getting the car and settling into it, its easy to overlook the vehicle inspection, especially as often you are in some car parking lot, and don't see an agent again until you finally drive out the gate, if at all. Make sure you ASK for a vehicle condition form, do the inspection, hand it back and get them to countersign.

Go, Leafs, go! (Well, not really, but one tries to be polite :) )
 
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Try booking on rentalcars.com or economycarrentals.com

Both include all insurances and taxes you need as you hold a license outside of the US.

Pay in Aud as well so no conversion fees and most have a free cancellation policy too up until 48 hours before.

They use most major car rental companies over there as well.
 

serfty

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Insurance in the US can be very expensive so use a credit card that has car rental excess cover.
...
Be careful of this - most major car rental companies have no such thing as "insurance exess" ... there is "collision (or loss) damage waiver".
 

TiredOldFlyer

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Be careful of this - most major car rental companies have no such thing as "insurance exess" ... there is "collision (or loss) damage waiver".

Of course you are right Serfey - being old and tired - I was using the generic term that I guess we are more used to in this country and as you are aware renting in the US can be a minefield with "All the insurances
Sir" adding up as much as the cost of the rental.
 
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serfty

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I should have pointed out that there are few (if any) Oz based credit cards that have CDW/LDW cover for USA car rentals.
 
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equus

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My AMEX certainly does.

If you are referring to the Plat Charge insurance, then be careful, as the answer is yes and no.

The Amex insurance does cover LDW, and covers you for damage you are liable for under the rental contract, but limited to the value of the vehicle or $125k (which ever is less). It does not, however, address the CDW side of things.

The LDW is OK as far as it goes, but is not "full" insurance cover and does not really go as far as it appears.

1. If the insurance contract includes liability for loss of use, the value of the vehicle may not be sufficient.

2. Much more significantly, you are covered only for your liability under the rental contract - so no coverage for third party liability arising from use of the vehicle. There is no coverage for the damage to who or what you may hit. Most of your other third party liability coverage will explicitly exclude liability arising from the use of a motor vehicle.

I think that most people who have studied US rental insurance options in fine detail would have concluded that the Amex insurance on its own does not provide adequate coverage unless you have taken some other insurance (from the rental company, or specifically covering US car rental) as well.
 

serfty

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Most states in the US require vehicle insurance before registration.
For instance the problems that you have mentioned are probably covered but the rental companies don't
like to tell you !
for New York State see :
Shopping for Auto Insurance: Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements
The compulsory insurance from one state covers interstate travel to another state.
It gets complicated and when travelling there's enough to do with lining up the ducks without additional input that may make one look like a goose. :p

FWIW, I gave up on AX platinum when the fee jumped to $1200 and the insurance (among other bennies) was nobbled,

My solution is to rent from an aggregator, such as mentioned (e.g. agoda.com, drivaway.com rentalcars.com etc.); they generally are ALL Inclusive. ... but check the conditions ...
 

raleyoz

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I have been using www.americacarrental.com , they also included
CDW/TLW/SLI/UMP?local taxes and airport fee/CFC/HSF
I have found them to be really good , through them I have found the cheapest is Dollar. but often half the price of my corporate rate with Avis.
 

TiredOldFlyer

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It gets complicated and when travelling there's enough to do with lining up the ducks without additional input that may make one look like a goose. :p

FWIW, I gave up on AX platinum when the fee jumped to $1200 and the insurance (among other bennies) was nobbled,

My solution is to rent from an aggregator, such as mentioned (e.g. agoda.com, drivaway.com rentalcars.com etc.); they generally are ALL Inclusive. ... but check the conditions ...

You are of course right in what you say Serfty however forewarned is forearmed !. I am old enough, tired enough (and a bit pedantic from time to time ) and like to know my rights - just in case.
i also like my Amex and in our case we have a corporate rate for the fee , it is a tax deduction and I like the points bank.
Cheers !
 
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