10 Ways That Smartphones Can Save Your Butt When Renting A Car #VZWBuzz

by Valerie, Mom Knows It All

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10 Ways That Smartphones Can Save Your Butt When Renting A Car

Did you ever rent a car and find that things just didn’t go as well as they could have? It’s happened to me a number of times. Once I forgot what model of car I had. Another time I forgot where I parked. And of course I didn’t know the license plate either. Fortunately they were a minor moment of panic and inconvenience.

The worst experience I’ve ever had with a rental car involved money. A LOT of money. When I accepted the rental car we did a quick walk-around of the car. Not seeing any major dents or anything I signed off and went on my way. I returned the car several days later, looking just like it had to me on the day I picked it up. A couple of days went by and I noticed a charge from the car rental company for almost $300 on my card. I called and asked what it was. I was told that part of the charge was for a chip in the windshield that I had to pay for. I was sure that it hadn’t been there when I picked it up and didn’t notice it when I dropped it off either. Too bad I couldn’t prove anything. The other part of the charge was for gas. They claimed I returned the car with substantially less gas then had been in it when I picked it up. Now I’d put gas in before dropping it off so I knew that wasn’t true. But again, I had no proof of anything.

Now I know better. I always carry my phone with me. The voice of experience causes me to look for ways to use my phone to protect and help myself. I have no doubt that any one of the things that I mentioned above might have happened to you. And so I am sharing with you 10 ways that smartphones can save your butt when renting a car.

  • Start by being proactive. Avoid equipment fees. Don’t pay to rent a GPS. A few days before you need the car be sure to check out some of the popular GPS apps, and find which one works best for you. By using a GPS app for mapping and directions you can save on a daily equipment rental fee. Some of the current popular free GPS and navigation apps include Apple Maps, GMaps+, Google Maps, Mapquest, Maps.Me, and Navmii.
  • Speaking of apps. Use a travel itinerary app to plan your trip. Some of the popular free apps currently available to help you plan and organize your trips include Gate Guru, Road Trippers, Trip Advisor, TripIt, and Waze.
  • Another app that you’ll find invaluable, particularly if you’re taking a long road trip, is an app that helps you with gas prices. Gasbuddy.com is free to use and very helpful.
  • Now it’s time to pick up your rental car. When you pick up the car be sure to ask if roadside assistance is included, and if it is what it covers. Some companies include it, others may charge for it. If it’s free, great. If there’s a cost be sure to consider it carefully. You may not need it if you have other coverage that will do the same. For example, Verizon Roadside Assistance works as long as you have your phone on you, no matter if you’re in your own car, a friend’s car, or even a rental car.
  • When picking up the car, be sure to take pictures of the entire car, including the windshield, before you sign for it. This will be evidence of any scratches, dents or damage that is or isn’t there when you pick the car up. Repeat the process when dropping the car off.
  • You’ll also want to take a picture of the gauges, including mileage and gas tank, before leaving the car rental location. Mileage is something that you need to be aware of if your rental doesn’t come with unlimited mileage. The amount of gas the car has will let you know how much needs to be in there when you return the car.
  • Take a picture of the license plate. This is helpful if you ever have to report it lost or stolen, or if you’re in a huge parking lot looking for a common make or model of a car.
  • Now you’ve officially picked up the car. Open the glovebox. There’s a 50/50 chance that the owner’s manual isn’t in there. Do a quick Google search to see if the owner’s manual is online. If it is, bookmark it. This way when you can’t find the emergency flashers, you’ll know where to look to learn where they are.
  • Take a picture of where you parked. This is helpful for the giant parking lots at amusement parks and such. Take a picture of the sign or landmark nearest your car. This is also helpful if you happen to return to your car and find someone has dented it with their car door and you have to file a report.
  • Focus on the road and not the phone. It’s enough to have to concentrate on making your way around a strange area without getting distracted by your cell phone. Be sure to connect your phone though bluetooth and drive hands free. If you can’t use bluetooth then use an app which lets callers and people texting know that you’re temporarily unavailable. One of the current popular free apps that does this and more is DriveSafe.ly.

Do you have any tips for using a smartphone to help you when renting a car?

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32 comments

Robin Masshole Mommy March 16, 2015 - 5:08 pm

The last few times I have rented a car, I just did it through Expedia. You have a lot of great tips here, though.

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Catherine S March 16, 2015 - 5:48 pm

These are all really great tips. I will keep them in mind next time I rent a car.

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Dawn March 16, 2015 - 5:59 pm

Great tips. I know we all love our smart phones for the cameras and the apps, but we can do so much MORE with them.

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Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle March 16, 2015 - 6:04 pm

These are great apps. Foregoing GPS is genius. Just about everybody in the free world has a GPS app on their smartphone.

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Pam March 16, 2015 - 7:24 pm

I’ve never thought of taking pictures of the car to make sure you don’t get charged for anything extra. That’s a really great idea.

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Liz Mays March 16, 2015 - 8:03 pm

These are really good ideas. I’ve definitely used GasBuddy before but I guess I forget about it when renting.

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Victoria March 16, 2015 - 8:55 pm

Smart phones are a wonderful thing! I don’t know where I would be without all my apps and my phone 🙂

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Nina Say March 16, 2015 - 9:19 pm

Speaking of travel apps, I think they have revolutionized traveling. I would not be traveling at all without that technology probably.

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Jeanine March 16, 2015 - 10:57 pm

Great to know! I’ve never rented a car but if we ever need to this will be great to know!

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Yolanda @ Seeing It Their Way March 16, 2015 - 11:34 pm

I always forget that I have roadside assistance on my cellular plan. And skipping out on the GPS can save you even more. Great tips!

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Tracy @ Ascending Butterfly March 16, 2015 - 11:50 pm

Sadly as a born and raised New York City Girl I don’t drive so I have never rented a car. My fave apps are gaming apps that I kill time with while at the airport! LOL

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vanessa: briteandbubbly March 17, 2015 - 12:19 am

It’s amazing how much our phones do for us now a days. I know I can’t do much with out technology these days and I surely can’t travel with out it.

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Rosey March 17, 2015 - 12:46 am

That is a good idea to take pictures before you go and after you return it too. Better safe than sorry, I do suppose!

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Veronica March 17, 2015 - 2:07 am

I haven’t rented a car in a while, but I will keep these in mind

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Megan @mnmspecial March 17, 2015 - 2:12 am

I’ve only rented a car once, but it was fairly smooth. I would have never thought to take before and after pictures to save my butt. I’m glad you shared these tips and your experience before I rent a car this summer.

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Crystal March 17, 2015 - 8:57 am

I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience. $300! Yikes! Thanks for sharing your tips with us. I haven’t had problem, but it’s good to be prepared.

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Debra March 17, 2015 - 10:18 am

Wow, that’s a horrible rental car experience. We’ve heard this happen to our friends so we always take pictures at the pickup and at the return – and include the agent we returned the car to in our photos. I also keep all the gas receipts because they are dated & time stamped…we go right before we drop the car off….

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Theresa March 17, 2015 - 11:33 am

These are all great tips! I can’t believe you had such a horrible experience, but we will definitely learn from int and start taking pictures of our rentals from now on.

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Rachel Ferrucci March 17, 2015 - 12:53 pm

I rent cars a lot and take notes of everything but I didn’t realize there were so many apps to help you. I’m adding them to my list!

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Christie March 17, 2015 - 1:05 pm

Bookmarking the manual is a great idea! I definitely have that missing in my rentals!

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Debbie Denny March 17, 2015 - 2:13 pm

Great tips and fabulous apps. Great for trips.

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Rachelle J March 17, 2015 - 2:28 pm

These are great tips! A few of them I didn’t know yet!

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Sophie S March 17, 2015 - 2:45 pm

I love using GPS on my phone when I’m traveling and yes it saves a ton of money. Lots of great things mentioned here that I hadn’t thought of before but make total sense. Thanks!

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christina aliperti March 17, 2015 - 4:05 pm

I wouldn’t have even thought of some of these. They are great ideas, especially taking a picture of your car and the landmark closest to it. Thanks!

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Anne - Mommy Has to Work March 17, 2015 - 4:54 pm

So many great tips! My husband has to rent a car from time to time. I’ll let him know.

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Tess March 17, 2015 - 5:30 pm

We rent cars for trips. I’ll be sure to remember this.

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Chrystal @ YUM eating March 17, 2015 - 6:23 pm

I have never rented a car so I have no idea what it entails. But I don’t leave without my cell phone. I have back up gps in the glove box just in case and my car is equipped with OnStar.

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Chrysa March 17, 2015 - 11:08 pm

These are some great tips. I remember the “olden days” of taking our GPS along on trips so we could use it in the rental car. No longer needed with a smartphone!

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Beth@FrugalFroggie March 18, 2015 - 12:32 am

I wish I had a smart phone. It could really save my butt.

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Donna March 18, 2015 - 10:36 pm

I haven’t used my phone with/for a rental car yet, but my smartphone has saved my butt many times, though. 🙂 With so many apps, a smartphone really can be a lifesaver!

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Debbie L. March 20, 2015 - 9:28 am

Great tips – thanks for sharing. Pinned to my Helpful Tips Board

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Shannon Gurnee March 22, 2015 - 9:49 pm

These are some really great ideas for using your smartphone when it comes to rental cars. Thanks for sharing!

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