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Common Cents departments
May/Jun 2013 Issue

Money-saving tips when renting cars

According to a survey of AAA Southern Traveler readers, 24.3 percent used a rental vehicle as a means of travel on a domestic trip. If you think there’s a possibility you’ll need a rental vehicle this summer while vacationing, take along these money-saving tips.

City vs. airport. Many states and cities levy high taxes or user fees on airport rentals. Compare the rental rates at your destination’s airport against a rate found within the city’s center.

Avoid unnecessary insurance. Car rental companies always attempt to sell consumers insurance to go along with the rental. Before you take their insurance, check your car or homeowner policies to see if car rentals are covered. Some premium credit cards also carry this coverage.

Prepaid gasoline option. An increasing number of car rental companies offer an option to pay for a tank of gas up front, allowing the renter to bring the vehicle back with a near-empty tank of gas. A little research prior to your trip can help you decide if this is a good option for you. Check the gas prices found online at your destination against what the prepaid option with your rental agency might be.

Put discounts to work for you. AAA offers numerous travel discounts to members. You also can check with airlines for rental discounts or shop additional online sites. A little research could result in big savings.

AAA members receive exclusive discounts from 15 to 20 percent on Hertz standard rates and from 10 to 15 percent on leisure and promotional rates for rentals in U.S. and Canada. Visit AAA.com/Hertz for additional information.

Find gas prices for your destination using AAA’s Fuel Price Finder online at http://aaa.opisnet.com/index.aspx.

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Ford Motor Company photo


 

Pack your wallet for travel abroad

You’ve probably set a budget for your upcoming trip abroad, whether you’re destined for the Bahamas or Bangkok. But have you considered how you’ll access those funds while traveling? Don’t let international payment modes catch you off guard. Use these few tips to pack your wallet as carefully as you pack your suitcase.

Credit card: It’s true that most vendors accept major credit cards, and the exchange rate charged may be better as markets fluctuate, but most credit card companies charge a foreign transaction fee–some as high as 3 percent. Check your accounts for the best offer.

Prepaid card: These reloadable cards give you secure access to funds, plus they come with all of the protection of your credit card. Buy prepaid cards prior to the trip and use them for purchases and ATM withdrawals.

Cash: The “chip and PIN” technology prevalent in Europe can be an issue for magnetic stripe cards. You’ll need cash for outlets such as self-service kiosks or vending machines. Shop around prior to the trip for the best exchange rate.

Ask about the AAA Visa TravelMoney® card and the AAA Member Rewards Visa Signature Card® at a full-service branch.

Travel savings are a phone call away.

When preparing for your summer vacation, remember you can book Hertz car rentals and lodging at AAA’s preferred hotel partners by using one phone number: (866) AAA-SAVE (222-7283). AAA members are assured the best possible rates.

Annual report names top car brands

With the annual cost to operate and own a vehicle on the rise, nearing 61 cents per mile, consumers are likely to be more interested than ever in the best value available when purchasing a car.

To that end, Consumer Reports 2013 Annual Report Card has picked the top five car brands based on fuel economy, versatility, affordability, and overall handling.

Those brands were Lexus, Subaru, Mazda, Toyota, and Acura.

The bottom five brands were Chrysler, Ford, Lincoln, Jeep, and Dodge.

Findings are in the magazine’s April issue.

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