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Aussies (foreigners) hiring a rental car in the USA?

Aussies (foreigners) hiring a rental car in the USA?

Old Dec 31, 18, 5:17 pm
  #1  
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Aussies (foreigners) hiring a rental car in the USA?

Hi to all,
My apologies if this is not the correct forum for this type of question.

As an inexperienced international traveler, I am planning a trip to the US in a few months where I will be hiring a rental car for the first time.

I have become quite confused when making 'dummy bookings' to try and get a rough estimate of how much the rental car hire is going to cost me.
There seems to be a noticeable difference in prices, when looking on both 3rd party/partner booking websites (ie.airlines) and that of the rental company's official site.
Not only that, but even the rental company's regional websites have different prices - eg Avis US website has different prices for the same car compared to Avis' UK website (factoring in currency conversion of course).

Question 1a)
Why is this so? I am not using any discount or promotion codes with these dummy bookings.
I assume the price difference has something to do with the various insurance and waivers that come as standard with the rental car in some cases, and as optional extras for others?

Using Avis as the example again, for 12 day car hire for my particular dates, the prices for the cheapest car are:
Avis US & AU websites (same price) = $480US / $682AU.
That includes "Cover The Car (LDW) and Third Party Liability(TPL)"

Avis UK website = 288GBP/$367US/$521AU
That includes "Cover for loss or damage" and Third Party Liability".

I believe these prices quoted are 'pay on collection/free cancellation' for all 3 websites.

Question 1b)
Should I be booking through the UK website for my trip to America, or is there a catch as to why it is much cheaper than the other website versions?


Question 2)
I've noticed that some damage waivers do not cover the vehicles tires and glass (windshields) and undercarriage, rather they are an optional extra.
Am I understanding that correctly?

Question 3)
I haven't looked into it yet, but unlike American credit cards, I do not believe my credit card covers rental car insurance.
My travel insurance pays upto $5000AU for rental car excess, but do not have any 3rd party liability cover.
Is the $5000 excess enough, or is it completely useless as I have read mixed reviews which has left me more confused!
(Apparently 'excess' has a different meaning in the US as compared to the UK and Australia?)

Thank you.
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Old Dec 31, 18, 6:34 pm
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Old Dec 31, 18, 7:11 pm
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In general it's a good idea to book at the website of your country of residence. Booking at .au websites should give you the insurance coverage.
Some companies assume country of residence based on the booking website, others do not. I don't think any rental car company is really happy with you booking on other countries' websites, and would/could challenge insurance coverages of such bookings.
There aren't really many reports of what exactly happens in such instances since most people don't like taking the chance.
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Old Dec 31, 18, 9:46 pm
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I routinely book through European consolidators (there are quite a few of them) for US car rentals... because they almost invariably offer "all inclusive" pricing. CDW/LDW. Liability insurance etc. What is left is the excess, and a few minor benefits, which your travel insurance is good for...(.if indeed the rate doesn't include zero excess)

Most of those websites IME base the quote on your stated nationality/country of residence so I have never been concerned about that side of it. Yes, it is true that windscreens/tires and underbody damage are not necessarily covered. I don't take the extra coverage there..I suppose you could say I "self insure" for those... and in nearly 60 rentals over there I haven't had to pay up... A windscreen could of course just be bad luck... but tires and underbody damage seem to me to be pretty unlikely - if driving normally on proper roads...

Why are the prices different? Why are airfares different from AAA to BBB compared to BBB to AAA? Market forces at work? If you get some benefit from booking through AVIS then well and good.... but (and this depends very much on what vehicle/where/when you are actually renting) even that AVIS UK quote looks a little high to me.... You may of course be looking for something larger than I ever need...

P.S. I would just about guarantee your Aussie issued credit card will provide ZERO insurance benefit on car rentals. That would however only be significant if you did what some do...book the very low rates available within the US......meant for Americans.. which do NOT include any Insurance or damage waivers... I can't think of many things more frightening…. ALL of the avenues you are looking at so far will cover you adequately....
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Old Jan 1, 19, 7:47 pm
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Originally Posted by obscure2k View Post
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Thank you for moving this discussion to the correct forum.

Originally Posted by klanfa View Post
In general it's a good idea to book at the website of your country of residence. Booking at .au websites should give you the insurance coverage.
Some companies assume country of residence based on the booking website, others do not. I don't think any rental car company is really happy with you booking on other countries' websites, and would/could challenge insurance coverages of such bookings.
Thank you for your reply and info, this is something I had not considered.

Originally Posted by trooper View Post
I routinely book through European consolidators (there are quite a few of them) for US car rentals... because they almost invariably offer "all inclusive" pricing. CDW/LDW. Liability insurance etc. What is left is the excess, and a few minor benefits, which your travel insurance is good for...(.if indeed the rate doesn't include zero excess)

Most of those websites IME base the quote on your stated nationality/country of residence so I have never been concerned about that side of it. Yes, it is true that windscreens/tires and underbody damage are not necessarily covered. I don't take the extra coverage there..I suppose you could say I "self insure" for those... and in nearly 60 rentals over there I haven't had to pay up... A windscreen could of course just be bad luck... but tires and underbody damage seem to me to be pretty unlikely - if driving normally on proper roads...

Why are the prices different? Why are airfares different from AAA to BBB compared to BBB to AAA? Market forces at work? If you get some benefit from booking through AVIS then well and good.... but (and this depends very much on what vehicle/where/when you are actually renting) even that AVIS UK quote looks a little high to me.... You may of course be looking for something larger than I ever need...

P.S. I would just about guarantee your Aussie issued credit card will provide ZERO insurance benefit on car rentals. That would however only be significant if you did what some do...book the very low rates available within the US......meant for Americans.. which do NOT include any Insurance or damage waivers... I can't think of many things more frightening…. ALL of the avenues you are looking at so far will cover you adequately....
Thank you for your detailed response.
I have only rented 4 times before, all in Australia.
During my first rental I received a punctured tire. I took it to the local tire repairs workshop and they fixed the problem for $35AU.
During my last rental I was driving on a rural, sealed road, when an opposing trucked passed by and kicked up a stone creating a large chip on the windscreen.
I was about 60kms away from returning the car to the airport. By the time I had arrived at the airport, the chip had become about a 4inch crack.
I was charged $250AU for the repair bill, but thankfully I believe the rental agreement covered "loss of use" of the rental car being out of service for repairs - so I was only charged for the repair work.

The Avis website's US and AU quotes are still showing $480US - for 13 days, not 12 as I incorrectly stated in the original post, for the cheapest vehicle.
The Avis UK website quote is $407US for the same vehicle. (or $347US with a current sales promotion).
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Old Jan 12, 19, 3:44 pm
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Just thought I would pass this on for anyone interested on the subject;

I wrote an email to Avis' worldwide customer service department questioning the idea of booking through their UK website as a non UK/European resident.

Their response advised to book through your regional website, as if your drivers license did not match the website's region that you booked from, it may affect your rate at the counter.

Now I am not surprised that the company did not advise me to book through the cheaper website, although I am not sure how convinced I should be about their reasoning.
I have read a few reports of non UK/European residents booking through a rental company's UK website - and these people did not mention any changes to their rate before, during or after their rental.

I suppose Avis took the conservative approach with their response to me with their advice just to be safe - "it may affect your rate".
Perhaps individual franchises may be able to make up their own rules on this specific matter as there may not be a 'blanket rule' across every Avis location?

Last edited by Adam1; Jan 12, 19 at 9:53 pm
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Old Jan 13, 19, 11:02 am
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Originally Posted by Adam1 View Post
I suppose Avis took the conservative approach with their response to me with their advice just to be safe - "it may affect your rate".
Perhaps individual franchises may be able to make up their own rules on this specific matter as there may not be a 'blanket rule' across every Avis location?
Disclosure rules are pretty good for U.S. rentals. While not done for car rentals at the national level, some states have rigorous requirements and that standard is pervasive. If you book on a site outside your region read the rules & limitations very carefully - and save them to a PDF until charges are finalized.
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Old Jan 13, 19, 3:19 pm
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Thank you 3cforme.
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Old Jan 13, 19, 4:02 pm
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Originally Posted by Adam1 View Post
Just thought I would pass this on for anyone interested on the subject;

I wrote an email to Avis' worldwide customer service department questioning the idea of booking through their UK website as a non UK/European resident.

Their response advised to book through your regional website, as if your drivers license did not match the website's region that you booked from, it may affect your rate at the counter.

Now I am not surprised that the company did not advise me to book through the cheaper website, although I am not sure how convinced I should be about their reasoning.
I have read a few reports of non UK/European residents booking through a rental company's UK website - and these people did not mention any changes to their rate before, during or after their rental.

I suppose Avis took the conservative approach with their response to me with their advice just to be safe - "it may affect your rate".
Perhaps individual franchises may be able to make up their own rules on this specific matter as there may not be a 'blanket rule' across every Avis location?
If you book via a European website and do not enter your country of residence, I think the bigger risk you take is that if you have an accident with the rental car, Avis might claim that you obtained the rate fraudulently, and therefore void the insurance!
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Old Jan 14, 19, 2:05 am
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Originally Posted by guv1976 View Post
If you book via a European website and do not enter your country of residence, I think the bigger risk you take is that if you have an accident with the rental car, Avis might claim that you obtained the rate fraudulently, and therefore void the insurance!
Thank you. It seems the savings may not be worth the risk in the end unfortunately.

Cheers
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Old Jan 15, 19, 9:52 pm
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Repeating some of the above but as a fellow aussie here are my thoughts -

- Rental companies in the US do not provide minimum insurance required compared to renting a car in Aus. Thats why the quotes as significantly lower via US websites
- You will be fully liable to any damage to the car and/or if you hit a third party. Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and Supplementary Liability Insurance (SLI) add-ons cover most this. Each rental company has slightly different names.
- Your travel insurance e.g. via credit card would only likely cover you for the excess charges (if any). For example mine states that i am only covered if i "accept all insurance offered by the rental agency"
- Booking via UK/Aussie websites will typically package the insurance in as they know it is required - prices are therefore higher
- Still compare booking via US website then include the insurance as 'add ons'. Sometimes this is cheaper if there are special deals running (i have done it this way for my most recent rental)
- Get past the fact that the insurance is likely to cost way more than the base rental itself. It is what it is unfortunately

Cheers
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Old Jan 16, 19, 1:43 am
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Originally Posted by bergsey View Post
Repeating some of the above but as a fellow aussie here are my thoughts -

- Rental companies in the US do not provide minimum insurance required compared to renting a car in Aus. Thats why the quotes as significantly lower via US websites
- You will be fully liable to any damage to the car and/or if you hit a third party. Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and Supplementary Liability Insurance (SLI) add-ons cover most this. Each rental company has slightly different names.
- Your travel insurance e.g. via credit card would only likely cover you for the excess charges (if any). For example mine states that i am only covered if i "accept all insurance offered by the rental agency"
- Booking via UK/Aussie websites will typically package the insurance in as they know it is required - prices are therefore higher
- Still compare booking via US website then include the insurance as 'add ons'. Sometimes this is cheaper if there are special deals running (i have done it this way for my most recent rental)
- Get past the fact that the insurance is likely to cost way more than the base rental itself. It is what it is unfortunately

Cheers
Thanks very much for this info.
Helps confirm what I have researched over the last few weeks.
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