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Auto rental wisdom.

When you rent a car, following these do's and don'ts can save some money and possibly a lot of aggravation.

* Phone ahead to confirm the reservation for the car you want. Double check to be sure you will get a free upgrade if the car you've reserved is not available.

* When investigating prices, remember that daily rental rates are not the only variable. Some of the other rates may affect the overall price more dramatically. Pickup prices--the rates charged on the basis of where you pick up the car--can vary by $25 or so. In some locations, it costs less to pick up your car at the airport, while in others, an in-town location costs less.

The same applies to drop-off charges. If you pick up a car in Los Angeles and drop it off in San Francisco, you may be hit with an extra charge of $60 or more. In some cases, you may be able to circumvent the extra charge. Again, ask in advance.

Some rental companies charge stiff extra fees for items such as baby seats (which cost as much as $10 a day). Some companies charge for a full tank of gas if you return the car with anything less than a full tank.

The collision waivers offered with many credit cards are not as simple as your credit card company may want you to believe. Every rental company asks customers if they want to buy extra insurance to cover any damage while they're in possession of the rented cars. The fees range from $1.50 to $15 a day. The insurance that covers your own car probably (but not necessarily) covers your rental cars, too. Also, many credit card companies say they, too, provide such coverage for free. In both cases, check just what the coverage is. You may find the coverage is so lame or pocked with loopholes that it's worthless. Be aware, too, that if you have an accident and don't carry waiver coverage, the rental company will add the repair charge to your credit card bill--leaving it to you to negotiate with your insurance or credit card company for reimbursement. However, if you buy the waiver, you can just drop off the keys and go your merry way.
COPYRIGHT 1994 American Institute of CPA's
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1994, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:On the Road Again: CPAs in Their Cars
Author:Zarowin, Stanley
Publication:Journal of Accountancy
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Mar 1, 1994
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