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Renting a car abroad: 10 commandments to avoid trouble

You plan to rent a car in Lahore during a stay in Pakistan, but ... you have the impression that one wants to make you pay for it in full, this car? Avoid the pitfalls of short-term rental with the following Ten Commandments.

Here are 10 commandments to avoid trouble

1) do your homework

As in everything, you first need to do your homework and "shop" for the offers. Easy: the big companies have developed very comprehensive websites where you can make your reservations. Even that the price is usually more advantageous in cyberspace than through the telephone exchange.
One way to save: book well in advance. You will have to watch, along the way, if prices go down - and modify your reservation.
Some companies offer a discount when the transaction is "paid now": it's financially advantageous… as long as you are sure you won't have to cancel.

2) identify your needs

A subcompact or an intermediary? If you are traveling alone, a small economy car will do the trick. But if several of you book a more spacious vehicle: a mid-size sedan, a utility vehicle, or even a van.
Moreover, you might be surprised at the small difference in cost that prevails, in times of low traffic, between the different categories of models. Set up several scenarios, and you may find that few dollars separate you from a more comfortable vehicle equipped with treats like heated seats or a navigation system.
Better to opt for more spaciousness at the time of booking rather than once there. Because if you discover at the rental counter that your suitcases do not fit in the trunk or under the luggage cover (where they should be, out of sight), the upgrade may cost you dearly.
Are you planning long journeys? Give preference to diesel engines (as long as they still exist…): you will cut your fuel bill by half.
Be aware that almost all rental companies do not set mileage limits.

3) All that glitters ...

Once you have decided on a vehicle category, check the list of models that the landlord offers. And be careful: some companies list sedans that compact as "intermediates".
And know that the following is not a myth: if no vehicle in the reserved category is available when you arrive at the counter, you will be upgraded - which must be done free of charge.
Do they want to "downgrade" you, or are you not being offered another vehicle? Ask to visit the parking area where all the models are located; maybe you will find the one there to meet your needs, and everyone will be happy.

4) Avoid airports

It is generally more expensive to pick up a rental vehicle at the airport than any other outlet. See, for the same company, where the other service points are and find out about a taxi's costs to get there.
Likewise, picking up a rented vehicle from one location and… returning it to another location usually entails exorbitant costs. Revise your itinerary to perhaps retrace your steps or consider a passage by train or plane.

5) classic rental or "buy-back"?

On the continent, a "buy-back" rental is advantageous for stays of at least two weeks or even longer.
Such a formula means that you buy the car, pay for the days of use, and at the end of the journey, hand it over to the manufacturer. The price usually includes all costs, including comprehensive insurance with no deductible and unlimited mileage.
Main advantage? Not only is the car new, but you check the brand, its engine, and its equipment.

6) Collision insurance: don't pay twice

You know how much auto insurance drives the bill if you've ever rented a car - sometimes almost as much as the cost of the vehicle. However, it is essential to insure against damage - with or without a deductible.
That said, your auto insurance or credit card coverage works just as well - what's more, it's free.
But still check the scope and conditions: are they limited in their duration? Do they insure against vandalism? Do they require an international driver's license (which you should have anyway)?
Be aware that most insurance coverage does not apply to exotic sportswomen and generally does not cover trips to certain regions.
But if not, make use of it and decline the onerous offer of the rental company. Please note: in several countries, this collision insurance is automatically included in the base price. If you don't want to duplicate the costs, make sure it is removed from the service.

7) Civil liability: another essential

Another essential protection: civil liability. This coverage is mandatory in several countries and states. It's usually included in the base price, but if it's not, be sure to buy it.
If you have auto insurance, you should already be covered in Canada and the United States; find out if this is the case.
On the other hand, the minimum threshold may be insufficient. During the stay, increase it to at least two million dollars. This will give you better protection in the event of a claim, especially in the United States, where lawsuits are a no-brainer.

8) Documents: gather, print, and bring

Before the big departure, print the contract, read the terms and conditions as to the time and place of the pick-up, the terms of the return, or the costs that could be charged on the spot (a supplement for 2nd driver or even for a driver under 25).
Make sure to slip in all the transaction details with your other travel documents: this will be proof of what you have agreed and booked.
If you rely on the protection provided by your auto insurance or credit card, ask them to receive the necessary written proof; a printout of the conditions taken from the Internet is not sufficient.

9) Once there

That's it; there you are at the rental counter. Is the officer in a hurry to get you in a vehicle and see you go? Don't be pushed around; take the time to ask your questions, read the local contract, and check, before signing it, if the details match your reservation.
The attendant should accompany you to the rented vehicle to ascertain its condition with you. If he doesn't, insist: you want him to contract that sunken bumper, that scratched door, that battered windshield, those scratched rims, that torn seat upholstery.
In passing, check if the fuel gauge indicates that the tank is full. And take the opportunity to take some pictures; you can never be too careful.
Don't be too worried, though: most landlords have a good level of tolerance for what they call normal wear and tear - for example, paint damaged by a loose stone or a trunk sill scuffed by a suitcase.

10) On the way!

One last point: before hitting the road, have the counter's phone number where you were served. In the event of a problem, contact will be much more effective with someone who knows the vehicle than with an agent from the reservations center - who receives hundreds of such calls a day.
When you return the car, make sure you have refueled - if not, you will be charged with fuel… and a service charge. And remember: you are responsible for all fines incurred - the company will mail you an invoice or pay them with your credit card.