Friday 16 January 2015

Quick Tips: Hire Cars

Picking a hire car company was a challenge, trying to figure out a reputable company that wasn't crazy expensive and met a few key things such as:
-Sufficient milage
-Ability to go into Canada
-Sufficient insurance coverage (since we don't have a US credit card or existing US insurance)

Included all of those things into the decision I picked Alamo for our LA car hire although there were some complaints on the reviews they seemed fairly reputable and were cheaper than most.

Our first dusting of snow, that shut down Arizona.
Pick up was interesting, there was a huge turn over of cars arriving and leaving and people just kept rolling in.  Unfortunately for use there was a distinct lack of small SUV's (for the number that had booked them) and the guy in the yard was trying to convince people into different cars, premium's etc.  We said we would prefer an SUV got given a medium SUV however after after a quick check under the car we found out it wasn't 4wd so we requested another.  They said they couldn't guarantee it but we fairly quickly ended up with an AWD Dodge Journey which served us well.  If you are thinking of going to areas with a potential for snow then I would definitely recommend getting a 4wd, particularly since most car hire companies I looked at would not allow you to fit chains.

We have also booked a small SUV with National car hire from Toronto and will report how that goes when we get there...

Note: We are using an 'international money debit card' for most costs including the rental car and got stung with some nasty fees.  Alamo charged a 'pending' transaction for the full amount when we picked up the car, which was fine, but it seems the pending transaction wasn't 'refunded' before the full amount was charged a few days before we returned the car.  Not sure if that is a unique issue with our cards or a common issue.


--- Toronto Rental Update --------------------------------------

Our trusty Tuscon in the sun on Prince Edward Isalnd
We ended up with a Hyundai Tucson from National Car Hire which has been a great car for this leg of the trip.  The 4wd has proved to be very handy in the snow as we probably would have gotten stuck parking in Montral or pulling over for a roadside photo a few times without it.  It was a US plated car that needed to be returned to the US which is probably why we weren't charged a significant one-way rental charge.

Oh yeah, and as you can see driving in snowy areas your car will get dirty.  Between slush, grit and salt the car develops quite a coating and you will go through a lot of windscreen wash.  Make sure you buy the actually wash (available all over the place) so it doesn't freeze.

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