This is NOT a sponsored post. I didn’t even get a discount. I just rented a car for the first time and was so excited, I had to share.
I’ve been a legal adult for a good long time, and old enough to rent a car for almost 10 years.
I’ve never actually rented a car.
It always sounded so scary – especially with the horror stories everyone has told me about their rental car getting totaled and they denied the insurance coverage….and I’ve also seen that happen on a lot of television shows.
So I’ve done everything to try and avoid renting a car because it sounded painful and I’ve tried to avoid any “voluntary” pain in the past. I had enough crazy happening, I didn’t want to invite any more in, you know?
But the time came last month, where I needed to get to Seattle and my car opted out of the trip.
And I needed to fulfill some promises to some very important people (AND celebrate my birthday!), so I couldn’t just opt out….so I rented a car!
Enterprise Rent A Car in Bellingham, WA made it incredibly easy for me, despite the number of times I told them that I was new (7) or the number of simply awful dad jokes I made (4) and the number of times I left my phone/bag/purse/child behind while trying to load everything into the rental car (3).
So in the interest of making my awkward moments into learning experiences, I wanted to share what I learned so that you don’t have to repeatedly tell the rental car people that you’re new or stock up on dad jokes.
Here’s what you need to rent a car in most of the United States:
- 25 birthdays under your belt. Yes, if you’re between 21 and 24, you can rent cars in some places but it can get SUPER pricey. They charge an additional daily fee for “underage” drivers.
- A valid drivers license. This seems like a no-brainer, but seriously. Your license needs to be valid. Two dudes walked in while I was checking out and both of their licenses were expired.
- A credit card (with enough of a limit to cover the cost of the car). Yes, you can rent with a debit card. They do put a rather sizable additional charge (on top of the charge for the car itself) into your debit card if you use it, and refund it within a few days if you return the car in one piece.
- A recent utility bill with your name on it, and an address that matches your drivers license (if you are paying with a debit card).
Here are some extra tips to make things smooth for you:
- Most companies charge by the day (starting when you pick up the car). If you rent for 25 hours, they’ll charge for 2 days.
- If you are going into a big city, I recommend you get the insurance. Don’t be like this guy (who was, incidentally, driving recklessly which I know you are not going to do in your rental car.)
- Have your insurance card ready to go in case you decline the rental insurance. They do like to keep a record, as I would if I were lending someone my car.
- Do NOT rush through the inspection they do with you prior to departing with the car. Cover your bum by checking everything, from missing floor mats to spots on the upholstery to dings in the paint.
- Take photos of ANY damage to the car. My tips are always in the interest of helping you protect yourself. Your smartphone date-stamps photos automatically, use that tool.
- Have them inspect the car after you return it, but before you leave (if you can). This way, they can tell you if there’s any damage. (Again, cover your bum.)