Rental Car Deals

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First class dirt cheap rental car deals. Think you've got one? Well, you've had a great road trip, and you've done everything right so far.

But you don't really have a first class dirt cheap deal until you're walking out with your receipt that's not a penny more than your original quote -- and a smile!

This last trick to seal rental car deals actually needs some research and pre-planning before you even embark on your trip. It has to do with the gas issue. In Cheapest Car Rental Rates, I talked about making it through the "counter duel" in one piece and shared how I rarely take their "buy the full tank of gas" deal.

This decision actually hinges on finding out where the closest gas station is to the car return area, gas price, their hours AND how big your rental car deals' gas tank is BEFORE I ever approach their counter with my quote print-out in hand. Having this knowledge allows you to make an informed decision regarding the gas issue.

Is the gas station close enough for you to arrive at the car return area with a "FULL TANK" of gas? It has to or you could be charged exorbitant penalties for every gallon missing!

Is the gas station price per gallon comparable to the price they are offering? If it's less, it's a no brainer, but if the gas station is charging the same or more than they are offering, and it's the only gas station close enough -- you may want to make this your one exception to walking away from their counter with your original quote intact.

Old Gas Pump in Green

Of course, it is a convenience not having to go to the gas station, allowing enough extra time in your schedule to gas up, return the car AND catch your flight or make your meeting or just be back home with your feet up and a nice cup of peppermint tea and a square of 90% smooth, delicious dark chocolate, listening to Sere's Jazz on -- oh wait, where am I? Oh yeah.

Gas. Rental car deals. It is a convenience, but it has to make dollars and sense.

Now, if you've done your homework and it makes sense to take their gas offer for your first class dirt cheap rental car deals, please promise me this one thing: DON'T FORGET TO ASK THE TOTAL THEY INTEND TO CHARGE YOU!!!! HOW MANY GALLONS DOES THE CAR TANK HOLD?!

Here's why.

Navajo Basket Weaver

We were in Santa Fe on vacation last winter and when we at the counter trying to get our, well, dirt cheap one way rental car deal to head up to Taos for the day and to drive ourselves back to Albuquerque airport to catch our 6 am flight in the next morning, we were having this gas conversation with the guy at the counter.

Now, in my head, I'm thinking 6am flight, how are we going to get gas near the airport that early? So I was weighing it whether I should take the offer in this instance. But then I asked him how much total.

This was a Kia Rio, a little box with a little gas tank, just fine for the situation at hand -- but I wasn't sure how many gallons it held.

Without blinking, he quoted me $60!!!!! In nano-seconds, anyone could have done the math and known that he was ready to charge me $60 for a full tank of gas that my gut told me could no way even cost $40!!!

You have to question everything! Sure enough, that car cost half that to fill the tank. If they can get away with it, they will! Don't be a sucker!

gas addiction

It was tough the next morning, but we did find an open gas station and made our flight (yes, I'm counting my blessings). To be safe, if I'm in that scenario again, I'll take my own advice and do a little extra homework to map out the closest gas stations, their hours and prices. I always did with business travel, but I do get a little lackadaisical with our vacation travel.

But for the grace of God, this could have ended up a catastrophe. If we hadn't found an open station we could have missed our flight! If we turned the car in empty -- humongous penalty! If we would have taken his "deal" we would have paid double what it really took to fill the tank!

So, to seal your first class dirt cheap rental car deals, and walk out with your smile -- plan ahead!

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