Top 10 Car Rental Tips for the Smart Traveler

Car Rental Tips rental cars for drivers under 21

Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, it’s a mistake to simply hop off the plane at a big airport like LAX and rent a car on the spot. Planning ahead will save you a lot of time and money.  The car rental desk inside the airport is always the most expensive option. Rental cars for drivers under 21 at affordable rates are nearly impossible to find right in LAX airport, for instance. You can get better deals if you rent from a car rental place close to, but not in the airport. This is a common situation in airports in most major cities.

Not to worry. Whether you’re flying into LAX, or you’re traveling to any major city in the United States, it’s easy to save money if you know how. In order to make the best car rental deals you can, read this list of the top 10 rental car tips to help make your vacation adventures and business trips run more smoothly.

1. Avoid the Hidden Monopoly in Rental Car Companies

When browsing for rental cars, there seems to be a wide variety of options available, but it just isn’t true. In reality, there are only a few companies that advertise under many different business names. Consumers can find the best deal by doing an online search for great rentals instead of looking for a specific company name. The best deals are usually found with small, independent car rental companies. Some online apps can even take your search to a new level by comparing all the offers available for your vacation dates and suggesting the best deal.

2. Promotional Codes Can Save You Money

Discounts can save you a great deal of money, so look for promotional codes and vouchers whenever possible. Sometimes hotels or other third-party businesses offer discounts or promotions on rental cars to customers using a package deal when booking rooms or when customers stay a certain length of time. It never hurts to ask about deals on rental cars when making your hotel reservations.  When searching for rental cars for drivers under 21, be especially vigilant about discount offers, however. Many discounts on rental cars only apply if you’re over the age of 25. Be sure to read the fine print before you depend on the advertised pricing.

3. Small or Older Cars Cost Less To Rent

Beware of counter upselling when you rent your car. Most companies want you to select vehicles with all the premium perks because they make more money from the rentals. Older and smaller vehicles may not be the shiniest or have all the latest tech toys, but they can cost significantly less than brand new models. For most travelers, it’s not worth paying a lot more for a slightly newer car. That’s why you’ll almost always find better deals at independent car rental companies.

4. Airport Rental Car Fees Can Apply

Convenience costs money. For rental cars for drivers under 21, that is just what happens when you pick the car up at the airport. There are often fees, taxes, and restocking charges hidden in the contract. Why not take a shuttle to your hotel and rent a car there?

5. If You Own a Car, You Might Already Have Insurance

Rental car services sell insurance at the counter, but in many cases your personal car insurance will cover the rental car in an accident if you have full coverage. Big rental car companies often advertise deep discounts on rental rates, and then try to make up the money with add-ons and fees like extra insurance. If a car rental company is a franchise, their rates might be set nationally, but the fees can be set locally. That leads to a conflict of interest when they’re offering things like insurance.

Check with your insurance agent before your vacation to see what coverage you already have. Your credit card might also have car rental insurance included as a perk. Be sure to understand all the fine print on your insurance policy and your credit card documents before you make up your mind. If you’re not sure if you’re covered, it’s smart to buy extra insurance at the car rental desk if you need it.

This video outlines the pros and cons of purchasing additional rental car insurance:

6. Different Companies Offer Different Benefits

Renting from large, well-known companies may feel like the best option available. The big companies may even offer a coupon package to draw you in, but their deals are not always the best you can find. To save money, compare the packages the smaller companies offer. Smaller businesses are often more competitive, and the deals they present can save you cash. It’s worth it even if the models are a few months old and the vehicles don’t have the latest and greatest tech toys.

7. Check Your Contract for Late or Early Fees

Everyone understands there will be penalties for late returns on car rentals, but did you know that most companies now apply a penalty for cars that are dropped off early? This is because most lots are small and there are a limited number of spaces available for returned vehicles. If there is a possibility you may have an early return, talk to the clerk and get all fees waived if possible.

8. Refueling Charges Can Be Really Expensive

Fill the car’s tank before you return it. If you forget to fill the vehicle, you may be penalized with a refilling fee and an overpriced amount for each missing gallon of gasoline. No matter where your return location is in LA, make sure you plan ahead to fill the tank up to save yourself some money.

9. Rental Car Cleaning Penalties May Apply

Whether you get your car at LAX airport or from a company near your hotel, the business will probably ask for a cleaning deposit and put the hold amount on your credit card. The cleanliness clause in your contract applies to both the inside and outside of the vehicle. Smart travelers take the car to a car wash for a rinse and vacuum before returning the vehicle if it has become extra dirty.

10. Consider Renting a Sat/Nav

Most car rental companies rent satellite navigation units along witht heir rental cars. This can be a smart investment for the busy traveler, but only under the right circumstances. Many people can get by with only the map apps that that they already have on their smartphone. If all you need are directions to and from the museum to the hottest club to the hotel, you’re all set.

However, if you’re going to be using your phone for more than navigation, switching back and forth from calls to navigation to other apps can be a pain. It can also be dangerous if it causes distracted driving. If you want to have full use of your phone, and at the same time avoid distracted driving, get the sat/nav.

Bonus: See our list of the Top Ten Must-Have Travel Apps

If you are visiting Los Angeles, California, you can find great prices on car rentals when you reserve a vehicle with Value Rental Car. There are so many things to do in L.A. and nearby Pasadena that your only problem is finding the time to fit all the attractions in. Los Angeles is a treasure trove of historical landmarks, national parks, museums, beaches, theme parks, and other attractions. From TV show tapings to zombie hunts, you can find almost anything. And the best way to get around the greater Los Angeles area is in a rental car.

Whether you are searching for rental cars for drivers under 21 or family-sized vehicles with room for the kids, check out our deals first – and save yourself some money.

10 Los Angeles Museums Kids Will Love

Los Angeles Kid's Museums Car Rental PlaceLos Angeles has something for everyone. That includes museums that appeal to children of all ages. No matter what your interests are, or how old your children are, there are fun and instructional ways to spend time in the city. Play and learn on your next family trip to Los Angeles at museums with activities and exhibits for visitors of all ages. All of these attractions are located in the L.A. metro area and are accessible by highway from LAX airport. Our car rental place has affordable rates that makes it easy to find your way to the perfect museum destination for your family. Check out our list of the ten most popular children’s museums in the Los Angeles and Pasadena area:

1. California Science Center

The California Science Center is a 400,000-square-foot complex divided into four major areas: the World of Life, Creative World, Ecosystems and the Space Shuttle Endeavor. This museum is open to the public seven days a week, and visitors can check out the permanent exhibitions for free. Refuel at Trimana, a grill market and coffee bar in the museum. Parents and kids of all ages may learn something new during a visit to the Science Center at 700 Exposition Park Drive.

2. Kidspace Children’s Museum

Kidspace Children’s Museum is located on more than 3 acres in Pasadena and supports a variety of age levels and play styles. Try more than 13 hands-on educational exhibits in the Physics Forest, ride bikes around the area or play in the water outside. Indoor climbing structures, a bug room and activities such as arts and crafts and dress-up are also available. Kidspace features an Early Childhood Learning Center for the toddlers and a private nursing area. Food is available on site at the Bean Sprout Cafe. Visit Kidspace at 480 N Arroyo Boulevard in Pasadena.

3. Cayton Children’s Museum

The Cayton Children’s Museum by ShareWell is a new attraction located near the Santa Monica Pier. The collections formerly housed at the Zimmer Children’s Museum have been relocated to this new 21,000-square-foot Santa Monica Place location, which opened in early June 2019. The museum has five major areas, called “neighborhoods,” with more than 30 exhibits. The facility also hosts camps, classes, cultural immersion programs and performances.

4. Natural History Museum

If you are traveling with older children interested in science, you may want to pay a visit to the Natural History Museum. This destination has a collection of 20 dinosaurs on display in the recently built Dinosaur Hall, hundreds of fossils and a total of more than 35 million specimens. After you pick up a vehicle from the car rental place and settle into your lodgings, you can make tracks toward 900 Exposition Boulevard.

5. The George C. Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits

You may know that L.A. is home to the La Brea Tar Pits, an urban Ice Age fossil excavation site. The Page Museum maintains a collection of Late Pleistocene era fossils removed from the pits, restored and displayed. The museum address is 5801 Wilshire Boulevard, near the County Museum of Art.

Continue reading “10 Los Angeles Museums Kids Will Love”

Stop Riding In Circles With These Top 10 Parking Apps

driving in los angeles parking apps rentavaluecar.com

Los Angeles has been a car-centric place for most of its history. The city is known for its network of huge freeways, and its many wide boulevards. The city’s car culture has been celebrated in pop music since the Beach Boys. Unlike most other big American cities, driving in Los Angeles is the default way to get around. Pedestrians and public transportation are an afterthought.

Los Angeles’ love affair with the auto made rush hour last most of the day. It also produces stunning visuals of endless streams of headlights or taillights for as far as the eye can see at night. One thing it never seemed to produce was a parking shortage. Unlike other big cities, Los Angeles always seemed to accommodate an unlimited number of parked cars. Part of this might be due to the essentially suburban streetscapes in most of the area. The number of high rises in the city is growing, but it’s still mostly spread out. There have always been lots of on and off-street parking available.

Los Angeles Is Growing. Parking Spaces Aren’t

The days of free and easy parking in Los Angeles seem to be drawing to a close, however. The population of the city is booming, and while there was a lot of parking spaces to go around, the supply wasn’t endless. For the first time in recent memory, driving in Los Angeles sometimes involves driving in circles looking for a parking space.

Our company specializes in car rental in Los Angeles. Drivers from out of town often wonder, What time is rush hour in Los Angeles? How do I avoid traffic in Los Angeles? How long does it take to drive across Los Angeles? Increasingly, asking Where do I park? is gaining in popularity. While we’re happy to help, it’s hard to point out available parking spaces in advance. That’s why we’ve come up with this handy list of 10 Parking Apps for your Android smartphone that offer real-time info that ends the worry about finding a prime spot at the curb.

Airport Parking Reservations

For many travelers, parking begins and ends with airports. LAX does have a lot of parking lots, but it can be hard to figure out which one to use, and the cost can be jaw-dropping. People who fly in and out of LAX all the time learn the system after a while, but what about the airports at the other end of your trip? The Airport Parking Reservations app is great for most airports in the US, the UK, and Canada. It can even help you find deals on parking. Reviews of parking garages are useful, too.

Airport Parking Reservations

Best Parking

Best Parking has parking info in more than 100 cities in the United States. To use the app, you can simply type in your existing location or your desired location, and a map with available lots and garages. It’s easy to compare prices and conditions on the app. Many participating parking lots let you make reservations in advance and pay using the app, which is very convenient for travelers who prefer not to carry wads of cash around. The app will also give you turn-by-turn directions from where you are to the parking lot you’ve selected.

Best Parking

Honk

Honk isn’t really a parking app. It specializes in assisting drivers that require roadside assistance or towing. It can hook you up with fuel if you run out, or a wrecker if you get stuck. Drivers who have AAA insurance probably wouldn’t give this app a second look, but it does have a nifty side feature. It also allow you to find and book parking for your car. You can pay for the service right in the app, which is convenient.

Honk

Inrix Park Me

Park Me supplies parking info and related services in more than 500 cities in the US and abroad. It has easy to read maps that have markers for all the parking lots and garages in your selected area. While their real time info is limited to a minority of garages, the info on the app is updated regularly with things like open hours and rates. If you decide on a metered spot on the street, you’ll appreciate the Park Me timer that counts down the minutes until you’re out of time.

Inrix Park Me

Parker

Parker offers a little more functionality than some other apps, but restricts itself to helping you find a parking space. The app tracks GPS coordinates in addition to finding you an open space. This allows the app to remember where you parked your car, with directions back to it from where you’re standing. That’s a definite plus for new visitors to Los Angeles, or any of the other cities the app covers. Parker has a bunch of payment options, including some forms of gift cards, making it even easier to find, park, and pay for a space.

Parker

Bonus: What Driving in Los Angeles Is Like

Parking Panda

Parking Panda services more than 40 cities in the US, including driving in Los Angeles. It’s a straightforward app that helps you find parking near all the major landmarks, and helps you to determine what you’ll pay before you get there. There’s a better selection of in-app payment options than you’ll find in most parking apps. The app also offers 24/7 phone support, a real rarity for apps like these

Parking Panda

Parkopedia

Parkopedia isn’t big — it’s huge! Unlike many of the other apps we’ve mentioned, it’s hard to find a major city in the US or Europe that it doesn’t cover. Parkopedia claims to track over 60 million parking spaces in 8,000 cities and towns all over the world. The app has powerful filters that help you decide where to park based on details like payment options, rates, and availability. Great direction finder, too. Unfortunately, unlike many apps, Parkopedia doesn’t let you pay for parking directly in the browser.

Parkopedia

Spot Hero

Spot Hero helps you find, reserve, and pay for parking in many major cities in the United States. The app only tracks lots, garages, and valet parking services. Spot Hero offers discounted parking in many locations. They buy up unused spaces in bulk and resell them to their app customers. Spot Hero is a favorite with business travelers. The app lets you set up multiple profiles, so you can keep your business expenses separate and easy to track. It even automatically updates some expense account software.

Spot Hero

Park Whiz

Park Whiz started out in NYC, but it’s expanded to many more cities, including Los Angeles. The app specializes in finding longer-term parking rate discounts. It also helps travelers who like to book a space well in advance of their travel dates.

Park Whiz

Parkmobile

If you’re looking for a popular app for parking, Parkmobile fits the bill. It’s got over 13 million users in 350 cities, including Los Angeles. The app makes it easy to find and reserve parking. It also has a built-in timer that reminds you when your parking is about to expire. Parkmobile is another app that helps you to keep your business and personal expenses separate, and it gives you a detailed history that makes it easy to claim business deductions on your expense account or tax forms.

Parkmobile

If you’re in Los Angeles or Pasadena for business or pleasure, long or short term car rental from Value Rental Car is the smart way to get around. Enjoy free pickup and dropoff at LAX, or within 7 miles of their convenient locations. Drivers under 21, debit card and cash customers welcome!

Think Car Subscription Services Can Compete With Monthly Car Rental? Think Again

monthly car rentalThe modern economy spends a lot of time and resources changing the way consumers pay for things. The items and services you buy don’t change that much, but the way you pay for them does. A good example is the ridesharing industry. It’s simply another way to call and pay for a taxi. Ridesharing services immediately seemed superior in service to regular taxis. But it’s important to note that all ridesharing services have always operated at a loss. If you paid for a ride at the rate it really cost, it remains to be seen if you’d think it was superior to the old taxi model. Recently, car manufacturers and middlemen have started to offer auto leases as a service, in the same way the tech industry offers software. However, if you think car subscription services can currently compete with owning leasing, or monthly car rental, you should think again.

How Subscription Pricing Works in Tech Firms

The tech industry is the leader in offering services based on subscriptions. The three main versions of this method of providing services and billing customers are as follows:

SaaS

Software as a service (SaaS), is now the most popular way to use and pay for computer programs. Companies completely skip the need for an IT staff that downloads, installs, updates, and protects computer programs for workers and customers. Most SaaS setups allow everyone to simply use a web browser to log in or otherwise use whatever software the company needs to get the job done. SaaS pay a subscription to have their software needs taken care of from a central location, hosted on a remote server, that anyone can access from the internet. They get to skip all the hardware and software updates needed to keep the system going.

PaaS

Platform as a service (PaaS) is similar to SaaS. But instead of offering access to software, PaaS offers companies a place to create and host their own software. If you have a customized app you want to work on remotely, PaaA is perfect. You can also serve the app to your customers from a PaaS location.

IaaS

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) are simply computer resources managed by others. You pay to have networking, storage, and other computer resources available at all times, with the flexibility to scale up or down at a moment’s notice. You’re not buying software, you’re renting hardware that you can use to host your software and apps.

A traditional car rental company probably uses all three of these “cloud” computing services. They use software programs on SaaS, run apps for reservations and other services on PaaS, and use IaaS infrastructure to host their websites.

Car Subscriptions as a Service

In a way, car subscription services are similar to IaaS deals in the tech sector, with a little SaaS thrown in. You don’t own the car, and you can change it regularly to meet your current needs, just like IaaS. Including insurance and maintenance is like SaaS. You don’t manage the details, you just show up and go.

Car makers don’t have any trouble producing excellent vehicles. Cars have never been safer, more reliable, and more economical on fuel than they are right now. However, carmakers do have trouble selling their products at a price the public can afford. This led to innovations in financing. Loan terms were extended to allow you to pay for more expensive cars over a much longer period. Lease programs were another tactic to offer new cars to consumers who couldn’t afford large down payments, or couldn’t meet other lending standards.

Carmakers are now hoping to use the same subscription service model that tech firms use. They supply you with access to a new car, and take care of insurance, maintenance, and mileage. Some services will let you swap one car for another on a regular basis. These subscription deals may appeal to a new generation of drivers who aren’t used to owning much of anything. They’re accustomed to paying for lots of things like housing, transportation, communication, and entertainment on a subscription basis. Why not cars?

Lots of major manufacturers are testing car subscription services in very limited areas. Most are luxury brands like Mercedes Benz, Porsche, Cadillac, and BMW. Ford also has subscription plans for more affordable cars like Fiestas and Escorts. However, their subscription service is simply a trail in a few locations, and the cars appear to be limited to used cars from lease repatriations.

How Car Subscriptions Work

Different carmakers have different plans. Some plans let you drive a single car for a set period. That’s similar to a leasing deal, but with maintenance and insurance added to your bill. Of course with a lease, you turn in the vehicle at the end of the term, and start looking for another car to lease or purchase. With a car subscription, at the end of your term you would get a replacement vehicle while the payments continued uninterrupted.

Other plans let you swap one type of vehicle for another on a regular basis. So, for instance, you might drive a small compact during the week, but occasionally drive a sports car or an SUV.

So What’s the Catch With Car Subscriptions?

The short answer is cash. Car subscription services are remarkably expensive compared to owning a car, leasing a car, or monthly car rental rates. According to Cars.com, current subscription plans are between 28 and 102 percent more expensive than leasing a car and paying for your own insurance and maintenance. And that’s not all. Most subscription plans charge fees just to join, and they’re pretty steep, ranging from around $500 to $600. For comparison, for the same money as just the fee for joining a subscription service, you can get a monthly car rental deal. Many subscription deals also charge a fee every time you swap cars. That’s not a problem with long term rentals or short term leases.

Who Is the Target Audience?

It’s hard to determine who the industry is targeting with their subscription plans. The plans seem to appeal to people who like to change their cars a lot, and who don’t like to take care of maintenance and insurance. These consumers understand they’re paying more for the ability to change cars more often. For the vast majority of drivers, the service will cost too much, or be too restrictive to be a practical alternative to owning, leasing, or renting a car.

Why Long Term Car Rental Beats Leasing, Buying, and Sharing

long term car lease

In many ways, it’s never been easier to get from point A to point B than it is right now. Air travel is relatively inexpensive. The internet makes it easier to shop for new and used cars. There are tons of travel apps for your smartphone to help you find your way around. Public transportation has improved in many cities over the last few decades. There are more ways to structure a car loan than ever before. All these transportation options can make it hard to decide whether to buy, rent, or own your own car. You may be surprised to find out that the best way to solve your daily transportation problems is long term car rental.

What Is Long Term Car Rental ?

When comparing transportation options, it can be hard to compare apples to apples. If you’ve ever tried to read all the small print on a TV ad for a new car purchase, you know how complicated they make the deals. Car leasing isn’t much better. There are a lot of ways for a car lease to cost more than the bottom line number on the day you get your car. And traditional car rental agencies make you sign long, involved contracts that can shift your pricing from hour to hour if you drive too many miles, need the car for longer periods, and other details.

Long term car rental isn’t like that. Different car rental companies use different numbers, but for the most part, a long term rental is defined as renting a car for at least a month. Long term auto rental isn’t the same as a lease deal, either. Leases are closer to buying a car for a fixed term, and then trading it in when the lease period is up. Car rental can be a rolling long term deal that doesn’t have to end on a specific date.

Can You Rent a Car Long Term?

Many consumers aren’t aware that this kind of rental car deal is even available. While it’s true that many large rental car companies don’t offer long term deals, there are many independent car rental agencies that specialize in renting out cars for long periods. If you shop around a little, it’s easy to find rental deals of all kinds. That includes open-ended deals that are more like rolling auto leases than traditional auto rental deals.

Unfortunately, travel comparison websites don’t usually feature non-standard car rental deals. Their listings are limited to traditional deals from larger rental companies. If you’re in the market for a long term car deal, you’ll do better if you look for small, independent car rental companies in the city you live in, or are traveling to.

Is It Cheaper To Rent a Car Long Term?

Regular auto rental companies don’t really reward customers for renting long term. Most of their business relies on high-dollar, short term rentals. They prefer to keep as many of their cars on hand for customers who only need the car for a short time. That maximizes their revenue per car

Long term auto rental companies are always trying to rent their cars for the longest possible terms. They don’t compete as much in the last-minute, short-term market, and prefer to have a full calendar instead of a full car lot. In order to get the most from their inventory, they offer better terms for longer rental periods.

You can always get a better deal on a longer term with most any car rental company. However, traditional auto rental companies often limit just how long they’re willing to let you drive the car. Long term rental companies are more accommodating. They’ll also let you roll from one long term rental deal right into another. That lets you rent a car indefinitely for all practical purposes. If you think you need a car for a long time, but don’t want to buy one, renting a car for long periods can be the answer.

Can I Lease a Car for Only 6 Months?

Yes and no. It mostly depends on how you define the word “lease.” Today’s car rental and car leasing marketplace use many different terms to refer to driving a car for a defined period, paid for with set, incremental payments. If you’re using the traditional definition of leasing, you’ll have a very hard time finding a six-month lease on a car. Leasing is more of a payment variation on buying a car, not a long term rental situation with rolling terms. While it’s easy to find car leasing deals with terms as short as 2 years, shorter lease deals are very hard to negotiate.

Careful shoppers would do better to search for long term rental deals instead of short term leases. There’s less pressure to sign on for really long periods, and in a pinch, you can usually end a rental arrangement without any sort of penalty.

Long Term Rentals for Business

In the past, business travelers usually flew into a city, rented a car and a hotel room, stayed for a few days or a week, and then left. Ride sharing services have taken the place of a lot of very short term car rental deals, as well as replacing a lot of taxi rides.

Today’s business traveler is much more likely to spend more time on business trips than in the past. Instead of a hotel room, a rental car, and an expense account for meals, business travelers now enjoy extended stay accommodations, a long term car rental, and a virtual office at a shared workspace. In essence, you’re a short-term resident, not a traveler.

It’s not economical for businesses to buy transportation for their remote workers. Long term leases are too restrictive if business stays are extended or shortened. Ride-hailing services and public transportation are fine for a day or two, but they’re time-wasters, and not very economical or convenient for most people.

Long term car rental is perfect for indefinite business travel. You have the same ease of use and round the clock access to transportation as local workers. You can transport clients and coworkers whenever the need arises. Rolling rental periods make it easy to end the terms of your rental without penalty.

For companies, long term rentals are easier for accounting purposes. Cash flow is maximized, and there are no upfront costs like there are with leases or purchasing a car outright.

Skip the Depreciation

If you buy a new or used car, it begins to depreciate the minute the ink dries on the purchase or lease agreement. Leasing deals bake the depreciation into the monthly payments. Depreciation on a new car is discovered when you try to sell the vehicle when you don’t need it any more. In some cases, depreciation overtakes the auto payments, and you end up having to pay out of pocket to pay off the auto loan.

Depreciation never matters with a long term car rental deal. You pay a weekly, monthly, or multi-month rate, and that’s it. If the car depreciates, it’s not your problem. You can even trade the car in at any time for another one with no penalty.

Rent a Car and Save Money

Ride-sharing is only cheap when compared to traditional taxi rides. It’s useful if you only need an occasional ride somewhere, but it gets very pricey and inconvenient if you need to use it several times a day for longer periods. Car leases are more affordable than buying a car outright, but they have a lot of fine print, and they limit your flexibility to end or extend the lease period. Buying a car is expensive, especially upfront. While the price per mile is much cheaper than ride-sharing or leasing, it limits your ability to get rid of the car when you no longer need it greatly complicates your transportation situation. Smart businesses and consumers use long term car rental to save money, add convenience, and increase their travel options.

If you’re in Los Angeles or Pasadena for business or pleasure, long or short term car rental from Value Rental Car is the smart way to get around. Enjoy free pickup and dropoff at LAX, or within 7 miles of their convenient locations. Drivers under 21, debit card and cash customers welcome!

Why Travelers Love Airport Car Rental

airport car rental

Do you love airport car rental? If you answered yes, you’re in good company. According to a 2018 survey by J.D. Power, airport car rental has higher customer satisfaction scores than any other part of a typical trip. That’s right — people report that they have a better time with airport car rental than when they check into a hotel, book an airline flight, or spend any time in an airport. The reasons for this phenomenon are interesting.

Four Keys To Car Rental Success

J.D.Power ranks customer satisfaction on a scale from 0 to 1000. Satisfaction scores for airport car rental companies are now averaging 830 points. When asked to explain why renting a car at an airport gets higher marks than any other stage of a trip, J.D. Power pointed out four keys to success for car rental companies:

1.Lower Prices

Everyone loves a bargain. Consumers shop around endlessly for deals on hotels, airfare, vacation rentals, meals, and other details. Car rental companies have done a great job of keeping costs low without skimping on service.

Smart travelers often enjoy splurging on one aspect of their travel budget. Some might prefer to stay at a pricier hotel. Others like to eat in better restaurants when they’re traveling for business or pleasure. Money saved on one stage of the travel process allows you to spend more where you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck.

In general, travelers see that they’re spending less on car rental than before, and understand that it frees up money to be used elsewhere. Saving money on car rental makes other parts of the trip more enjoyable, too.

2.Better Vehicles

On the whole, rental car companies have a better selection of cars than ever before. The cars aren’t simply newer or more expensive, either. Travelers of all types are able to find the correct vehicle for their needs at a price they can afford. This includes vehicles that were once hard to find, like vans and motor coaches.

In addition to more choices at traditional rental car companies, there are a lot of local car rental businesses that rent good quality used cars. For most travelers, saving a ton of money by renting a “daily driver” type car is a no-brainer. As long as the car is big enough, clean, and in good working order, most consumers are willing to overlook the facts it’s not brand new if they can save some money.

3.The Reservation Process

For a long time, car rental companies had a reputation for being hard to deal with. They were famous for complicated pricing structures and unreliable reservation policies. Frustrations with car rental even turned into situation comedy routines, like this one from Seinfeld:

According to the survey, those days are mostly over. The car rental process is much easier to manage these days. With the rise of the internet, customers could find out more about the deals they were making, and compare prices more easily.

Communication is better in general. Even the smallest independent auto rental agency usually has a full-service, interactive website. Nearly instant communication is possible using phone, fax, email, and various chat apps. Customers can also check online reviews to make a more informed choice.

Automation does help auto rental companies to keep track of their fleet of vehicles and their customers, but travelers mostly still prefer the personal touch. One of the most effective ways for car rental companies to increase customer satisfaction is to have a positive, personal interaction with the customer.

4.Mobile Apps

Smartphones are invaluable when you’re traveling. Making phone calls is only a small slice of their usefulness for a traveler, however. Smartphone apps can handle all sorts of important details of your trip, from making reservations to watching out for traffic jams.

Related: Check out our Ten Must-Have Travel Apps for Carefree Trips

The J.D. Power survey reported that travelers who use travel apps report much higher satisfaction than customers who do not. Using your smartphone for travel is smart!

The Two Big Car Rental Satisfaction Secrets

A spokesman for J.D. Power identified the two points that lead to customer satisfaction. First, customers want to know exactly what it costs to rent a car, and they want that information quick. That might explain why rental car services at the airport are so popular. If the rental counter is inside the terminal, you’re likely to pay more, but at least you can talk to a real person and ask questions.

If the company is located offsite, but offer picks up and drop offs at the airport, you can visit their website to find out what you’re paying before you plunk down your cash. Either way, pricing is transparent and easy to understand.

Secondly, how long it takes to actually get into the car is a big factor. While traditional car rental companies often have car rental counters in most airports, their parking lots can be quite a hike from the terminal. Car rental companies are doing a much better job at ferrying customers to their remote lots than in the past. In addition, many travel services now have remote check-ins, which moves things along. Many independent car rental agencies can’t afford a lot at the airport, but have pickup and drop off service. In some cases, this is even faster than airport counter service.

More Ways To Pay

New payment methods for car rental are growing in popularity. This also could have an effect on customer satisfaction. It used to be nearly impossible to rent a car without using a major credit card with a very high limit. That’s changing rapidly. Many traditional car rental companies now accept additional forms of payment. In addition, there are many smaller, independent car rental agencies that accept non-standard payment methods like debit cards, gift cards, and cash deposits.

See also: How To Rent a Car Without a Credit Card

More Availability

In the recent past, many car rental companies had strict rules for the age of the customer, the type of payment used, credit scores, and other details. This is also changing. Young drivers, consumers with bad or no credit, international travelers, and people with other unusual circumstances can usually find a car rental company that will work with them to get them into a car. This might also be having an effect on customer satisfaction in the auto rental industry. The fastest way to a customer’s heart is to make reasonable adjustments to your rental policies to make sure that if you want to rent a car, you can.

For more information about airport car rental in Los Angeles, contact Value Rental Car. They have convenient locations near LAX, and in Pasadena. 

6 Big Reasons To Rent a Car When You’re on Vacation

renting a car in los angeles

Choosing the right kind of transportation is one of the most important ways to make a vacation more enjoyable. It’s common to obsess about where you’re going, the hotels you’ll stay at, the restaurants you’ll eat in, and numerous other details. That’s because everyone wants their vacation to be memorable. However, even the smartest travelers often overlook the most fundamental detail of their trip: How are you going to get from point A to Point B once you arrive at your vacation destination? While it’s often possible to get around using public transit, ride-hailing apps, cabs, and shuttle buses, smart travelers rent a car when they’re on vacation. Here are six big reasons why renting a car for a vacation is the smart move:

You’ll Save Time

save time by renting a car in los angeles

Your airline has a schedule. Hotels have check in and check out times. Your vacation has a start and end date. You use these times to plan your whole vacation, and each individual day of your vacation. For the most part, you can rely on these times and dates without exception. That’s not true with many forms of ground transportation.

Public transportation has their own schedule. That schedule is unlikely to be based on your convenience. If you’re relying on buses, trams, trains, or subways to get around, you might find you spend as much time waiting around as getting around. And when that waiting is over, you’ll still be traveling slowly. Public transportation rarely offers the direct route to where you’re going. That means lots of intermediate stops and transfers.

No Waiting Around

renting a car in los angeles instead of subway

Cab rides and car hailing services are more flexible than subway schedules, but you’ll still spend plenty of time waiting for someone to come and pick you up. Taxi services are notorious for making potential customers wait around. Trying to hail a cab in the street is even more unreliable. Ride-hailing apps have put a lot of pressure on cab companies, but this hasn’t really helped the riding public. There are fewer “gypsy” cabs than ever, and finding one in a hurry can be a frustrating chore.

Ride-hailing apps promised an improvement over regular cab services, but they’re iffy when you’re in a hurry in an unfamiliar place. Busy travel times make private car services nearly unavailable at certain hours. Surge pricing can make you blow your ground transportation budget in one shot, because you don’t know the price until you really need a ride.

If you rent a car, it’s always outside your hotel, waiting to go wherever you want, whenever you want to go.If you’re going on a vacation to a destination like Disneyland, you’ll wait in plenty of lines. It’s silly to rely on public transportation that adds more lines to your days off. Renting a car in Los Angeles and driving to and from Disney is the smart way to get there and back.

You Can Really Go Exploring

go exploring by renting a car in los angeles

If you’re on public transportation, you can’t tell the driver to go down a side street. Buses, trams, trolleys, and subways go where they go, and can’t go anywhere else. Ride hailing apps won’t help you much, either. You have to have a destination specified to get a ride, and the driver won’t be able to accommodate much in the way of detours. And riding around in a cab with the meter running isn’t anyone’s idea of relaxation.

The best vacations have a sense of adventure thrown in. It’s fun to poke around a city to really get a sense of what like is like. If your trip is limited to your hotel, public transportation, and pre-planned destinations, it can feel really artificial. One city looks much like any other from inside an hotel room or inside a cab. Renting a car and exploring is a great way to make a humdrum vacation into something more memorable.

Save On Group Transportation

save money on group fares by renting a car in los angeles

If you’re a business traveler, you’re almost always traveling alone. You’re on a mission, and you’re unlikely to take many detours. Airline, ground transfer, hotel, meeting room, ground transport, and back to the airline. Vacationers have different needs. One of the most fundamental differences is how many people are involved.

If you’re bringing another person with you on vacation, or an entire family or other large group, your itinerary and transportation needs change dramatically. Most ride sharing services severely limit the number of people who can share a car ride, and cabs aren’t much better. Public transportation costs for groups can really add up, too. If you’re traveling in a group, renting a car can end up being a lot cheaper than public transportation or taxi service, and lots more convenient.

Comfort and Safety

stay safe by renting a car in los angeles

Piloting your own car around a city is infinitely more comfortable than riding on public transportation.  Traveling with children on a subway can be nerve-wracking, and it could spoil an otherwise pleasant trip. If you have your own rental car, everyone can ride in comfort, and you can choose what radio station you listen to. You can snack as you drive, and little ones can amuse themselves with smartphones and tablets.

It’s a lot safer to rent a car, too, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar place. Thieves target travelers on subway platforms and at other transportation hubs. If you miss a connection, you could find yourself on a lonely platform in a dangerous neighborhood. Having a rental car makes it easy to get to and from your destinations at any time of the day or night. It’s also safer for you, your family, and your belongings. You can lock all your doors with a touch of a button.

Stop Lugging Your Luggage Around

rent a car in los angeles to safely carry luggage

It cost money to take an extra piece of luggage with you onto a plane. The cost and annoyance of luggage doesn’t stop there. It can be a real hassle to lug your luggage with you everywhere you go when you’re on vacation. Wrangling your luggage onto public transportation can be a nightmare. Taxis have limited room for your stuff, and ride-hailing services really don’t like to handle any bags.

If you rent a car while you’re on vacation, you can take all or part of your luggage along while you travel from place to place. You’ll never have to leave one member of your party alone to “guard” your luggage while you make other arrangements. Bus stations, train stations, and other forms of public transportation have luggage checks, but they’re expensive, and not always convenient or reliable. If you have a rental car, you can lock up your valuables in the trunk and be sure you’ll find them when you get back. You’ll also enjoy a more carefree vacation if you’re not constantly worrying about your bags.

6 big reasons to rent a car when you're on vacation rentavaluecar.com

Renting a car in Los Angeles or Pasadena?

If you’re vacationing anywhere in the Los Angeles or Pasadena area, make your trip carefree with a car rental from Value Rental Car. You’ll save money, time, and aggravation!

Five Fun Ways To Spend a Rainy Day in Los Angeles

rainy los angeles car rental companies that accept cash deposits

When a typical traveler describes their perfect trip to Los Angeles, it usually begins and ends with a lot of sun and fun. That’s perfectly natural. Southern California is blessed with abundant sunshine, warm temperatures, iconic beaches, and interesting local landmarks. However, no matter what the songs says, it does occasionally rain in southern California. And when it does rain, it really pours.

Not to worry. Even though Los Angeles is fantastic in the sunshine, it’s also a lot of fun when it rains. You just have to think outside the box a little. Our company is one of the few car rental companies that accept cash deposits in the Los Angeles area. That means we get a lot of customers who are traveling on short notice and on a tight budget. We’re often asked to suggest interesting excursions in the area. Of course the usual destinations like Disneyland and the beach are great if the weather is balmy. Standing in line at Space Mountain in the rain isn’t nearly as much fun, however.

For those few days a year when the sunshine is taking a day off, we’ve compiled a list of the most popular ways to spend a rainy day in Los Angeles. Even if you already have destinations in mind for your time in Los Angeles, it’s great to have a fallback itinerary if the weather turns sour on you. What’s more, these rainy day attractions are so much fun, you might count yourself lucky if the rain  lasts for several days so you can try them all!

See a Movie, the Hollywood Way

It’s a blast to visit Mann’s Chinese theater in Hollywood. You can wander around the open sidewalk/courtyard out front and see the handprints and footprints of your favorite movie stars embedded in the concrete slabs. It’s an especially great excursion for a family on a budget, because it’s free. It’s not nearly as enjoyable if the footprints are full of rainwater, however.

If showers spoil your trip to the Chinese, you can still walk across the street to the El Capitan Theatre and take in a movie in old Hollywood style. Seeing a movie at the El Capitan is nothing like going to a bland stripmall movie house. The El Capitan was purchased and restored by Disney, and it’s a magnificent example of the exotic architectural style that makes old Los Angeles so interesting.

The exterior of the El Capitan is Spanish Colonial, with an exotic, East Indian interior that really pops. The theater was originally built in 1926 to host live theater performances. During the 1940s, it was converted to a movie house. It was completely restored in 1989 by the Disney Company, and it shows only Disney films. That makes it a great destination for a rainy afternoon with kids of any age.

The entertainment doesn’t end with a great movie experience. There’s a great pre-movie show, which might include live vaudeville-style acts or singing and dancing. There’s also music performed on the giant Wurlitzer pipe organ before the movies start.

The El Capitan is popular rain or shine, but it’s especially hard to get a ticket on a rainy day. You can check online for shows, or call their box office for more info.

The El Capitan Theatre

Indoor Speed Karting

Rainy days in Los Angeles don’t have to be dreary. If you’re going to be stuck indoors, why not get stuck behind the wheel of a super-fast, zero-emission go cart? K1 Speed Indoor Karting in Torrance is handy to West Los Angeles, and it’s fun for adults as well as larger (over 4′-10″) children.

K1 is part of a national chain of cutting-edge kart racing tracks, so there’s no rundown amusement park vibe. The tracks are challenging, and the karts are very fast.

The hairpin turns and fast speeds aren’t really suited to meek drivers. There’s a real competitive vibe to the action that resembles real racing more than leisurely bumper car action. K1 Kart Racing is especially good for parties.

K1 Speed Indoor Karting

Watch a TV Show Being Taped

Want to see a celebrity while you’re in Hollywood? Good luck. It’s getting harder and harder to spot movie stars out and about in the city. It’s nearly impossible on a rainy day. However, if you want to get up close and personal with your favorite stars on a rainy day, why not visit them while they’re working?

Lots of TV sitcoms, talk shows, game shows, and other serialized programs are taped in Los Angeles. If you’re willing to be flexible, you can find one nearly every day of the week, every month of the year. It’s a great way to spend a drizzly afternoon, and best of all, it’s almost always free.

Just because it’s free doesn’t mean you won’t need tickets, however. Look around online for websites like TVTickets.com to find something that you’d find interesting that’s taping that day. Unlike watching your favorite shows on your television, who taping often includes personal interactions with the show’s performers before, during, or after the taping.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a half-hour show takes a half-hour to tape. Be prepared to spend four hours  or more at the venue.

Visit Madame Tussaud’s in Hollywood

Back in the day, Madame Tussauds had a cheesy but likeable vibe. The wax statues of sort-of-celebrities weren’t very lifelike, and the surroundings reminded most visitors of a cheap carnival, not a museum. The wax effigy business has come a long way in the last decades, and Madame Tussauds has reinvented itself as a much more interesting and lively destination.

Unlike most museums, Tussauds is geared more to popular taste than strictly intellectual displays. The incredibly lifelike wax figures are chosen from the ranks of celebrity for the most part. That means you’ll see replicas of people you’d like to meet. It’s great fun to take a selfie with an uncannily lifelike statue of your favorite singer, actor, or other personality. As interactive entertainment goes, it’s as close to hanging around in the Green Room of a TV talk show as you’re likely to get. It’s a great way to spend a rainy afternoon without spending a bundle, or driving all over town. Smart visitors book online to get discounts.

Madame Tussauds Hollywood

Roll On Over to the Petersen Automotive Museum

Car rental companies that accept cash deposits like we do are naturally partial to all things automotive. Los Angeles is famous for its car culture, and the Petersen Museum might just be the greatest car museum in the country. The spiffy new buildings looks like it’s moving at high speed itself, and has won several design awards. Inside, the museum features more than 100,000 square feet of fascinating displays. There’s something for every age and taste, with Disney/Pixar CARS sitting next to fascinating examples of concept and art cars.

Unlike most automotive museums, the Petersen is anything but sedate. There are many interactive exhibits, including driving simulators that put you behind the virtual wheel of the fastest cars on the planet.

The Petersen Automotive Museum

10 Fun Ways To Spend a Rainy Day in L.A. from rentavaluecar.com

Affordable Cash Deposit Car Rental in Los Angeles

Remember, car rental companies that accept cash deposits are hard to find. Get great rates on your next rental in the greater Los Angeles area by contacting Value Rental Car, with convenient locations in Los Angeles and Pasadena.

Moving to Los Angeles? The Insider’s Guide to L.A. Neighborhoods

car hire los angeles neighborhoodsAre you thinking of moving to Los Angeles? You’re not alone. Los Angeles is booming. People are moving to the greater Los Angeles area from all over the country, and the world. Los Angeles is now home to almost 4 million people. That makes it the second-most populous city in the country, after New York City.

Los Angeles has been featured in countless movies and television shows. That can make it seem instantly recognizable to new visitors. However, once you make it out of the airport, take care of car hire, and start tooling around, you quickly realize that Los Angeles is huge. Greater Los Angeles is the largest part of Los Angeles County, one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country. More than 10 million people call Los Angeles County home. To put it in perspective, the population of Los Angeles County is larger than 41 different states. And at over 4,000 square miles, Los Angeles County is larger than Delaware and Rhode Island put together.

The size of greater Los Angeles can be daunting for newcomers looking for a place to live. The city has many miles of big freeways connecting all its neighborhoods, but heavy traffic can make Pasadena seem a thousand miles away from Hollywood.

That’s why new arrivals to greater Los Angeles should shop around for a neighborhood in Los Angeles that suits their age bracket, their lifestyle, and their budget. In some ways, Los Angeles is more like a cluster of small towns than a big city, so it’s smart to choose your location wisely. You’ll probably spend most of your time close to where you live.

What To Look for in a Los Angeles Neighborhood

Public transportation is improving in Los Angeles, but you’ll soon discover that everyone drives everywhere in Los Angeles. Unless you want to be isolated in a very small footprint of the city, car hire is the smart way to see the sights, and check out the various neighborhoods. Here are some of the more important things to look out for as you’re checking out potential neighborhoods:

Parking

Since cars are an integral part of the Los Angeles lifestyle, you’ll want to keep parking in the front of your mind while searching for a place to live. It used to be fairly easy to find parking in almost any area of the city, but those days are long gone. Compared to a place like New York City, it’s still easy to find a place to park, but free parking is getting rare. If you’re shopping for a house or apartment anywhere in the city, it’s smart to ask about parking first.

Child-Friendliness

Los Angeles is a great place to raise kids. There’s a lot of activities for children of all ages, and playgrounds are usually easy to find. That being said, some neighborhoods are predominately older, or cater more to young, single people. That can make finding nearby friends for you and your children more difficult. If you want to avoid long trips in the car for everything to do with your kids, choose a kid-friendly neighborhood. And don’t forget to check out the rankings of the local schools  before plunking down a deposit.

Night and Day Differences

Some areas of Los Angeles have a totally different vibe when the sun goes down. Some commercial-centric areas are ghost towns after dark. Other neighborhoods really hop after nightfall, but seem sleepy during the day. Make sure to visit potential neighborhoods at night as well as during the daytime to get a true picture of the area.

Keep Your Friends Close

If you’re moving to Los Angeles on the recommendation of a friend who already live there, you might want to look nearby for a place to live. If your only friends in the city live in the Valley, and you live in Long Beach, you may not get to see each other very often.

Check That Commute

If you’ve already got a job lined up, make sure to check that commute. Don’t rely on the number of miles on a map to see how far you are from work. Rush hour traffic can turn a few miles into a big expedition. Try different routes to make sure you can get to work in a reasonable amount of time.

The Skinny on Los Angeles Neighborhoods

With these details in mind, let’s take a look at a selection of the most popular neighborhoods and see how they stack up:

Downtown

If you’re a committed urbanite, Downtown L.A. might be your only chance to find anything that looks like a city in Los Angeles. Even Downtown isn’t a single place. It’s a series of loosely connected neighborhoods like:

  • Arts District
  • Chinatown
  • Civic Center
  • Fashion District
  • Flower District
  • Little Tokyo
  • South Park
  • Wholesale District
  • Olvera Street
  • Gallery Row
  • Bunker Hill

Each of these little niche neighborhoods has something to offer. If you’re used to city living, and like to walk instead of drive, Downtown L.A. might be for you. Art lovers flock to the area. Keep in mind that there isn’t a lot of green space anywhere, and some of these areas can be potentially dangerous at night. If you’re a young urban hipster, Downtown fits the bill.

Hollywood

Hollywood isn’t for everyone. It’s one of those neighborhoods where there’s less than what meets the eye. On the surface, there’s a lot of familiar landmarks like the Walk of Stars and the Chinese Theater. Once you’re done trying to catch a glimpse of a celebrity, the area takes on a whole different feel. Hollywood still has lots of little bungalows and cottages that used to be quite common in Los Angeles. Small houses and apartments suit the population, who are generally more likely to be young and single than in other neighborhoods. There’s plenty of nightlife, and foodies won’t be disappointed, but traffic can be a bear, and there isn’t much to attract families. Crime is also higher here than in some of the sleepier areas of the city.

Hancock Park

Hancock Park had dreary beginnings. It was once covered with nothing but oil derricks, when Los Angeles was still a big oil producer. Luckily, when the oil ran out, the owners of the land decided to parcel it off as single family homes. A lot of the charming Mediterranean style homes still stand in Hancock Park, and the streets are very walkable. The area is fairly pricey, and the residents prefer a quieter lifestyle than other neighborhoods in the city.

Hancock Park is centrally located, which can be good and bad. While you’re close to many other areas of the city, commuters can make rush hour challenging when they cut across city streets to get home faster.

Beverly Hills/Brentwood

If you’d like to live in Los Angeles while having next to nothing to do with the city, these neighborhoods are for you. They’re immaculate, crime-free, with easy parking, tree-lined streets, and beautiful homes. They’re also some of the most expensive real estate on the West Coast. Beverly Hills has some interesting retail, and both areas have a few well-regarded restaurants. But if you’re looking for nightlife, or even everyday services like supermarkets, car hire, cleaners, etc., these tony suburbs might not be for you.

Miracle Mile

The Miracle Mile in West Los Angeles is a great neighborhood if you’re raising a family, or for people who prefer a slightly more sedate lifestyle. The neighborhood is close to the freeways, but it quiet and walkable. The housing stock is still mostly 1920s and 1930 bungalows, along with duplexes and some small apartment buildings. Many houses have usable yards, a rarity in many Los Angeles areas. Streets and sidewalks allow long walks with nice streetscapes.

The Miracle Mile might be too boring for young singles. It’s very quiet at night, which can make pedestrians nervous after dark.

Echo Park/Silver Lake

If you want to live on the East Side of L.A., the trendy areas of Silver Lake and Echo Park might suit you. Sometimes called the Williamsburg of the West Coast, Echo Park is more affordable than a lot of neighborhoods in the West Side. It has a diverse, artistic, edgy sort of vibe that young singles like. Some areas in Echo Park and nearby Silver Lake seem like the boonies compared to all the pavement west of there. Parking is a challenge, day or night, and there’s more crime than some other areas. The young-ish population churns regularly, so there’s less of a sense of community than in some other areas of the city.

Culver City/West LA

Culver City is home the movie business in Los Angeles, but you’d never know it. Movies get made in nondescript soundstages that look like big warehouses, after all. Culver City has more than its share of big, bland commercial buildings mixed in with move studios. The area is enjoying something of a renaissance, however, so you’re just as likely to find a good restaurant in West LA as anywhere else in the city. Young singles are making their way into the area in greater numbers now, but Culver City and West LA continues to be a great place to raise a family. It’s right in the heart of the city, so traffic is a bear, however. If you’re flying in to the city, LAX is very close, so a car hire and a short trip is all you need to look around the area.

West Hollywood

West Hollywood is not quite like any of its surrounding neighbors. It’s not nearly as upscale as Beverly Hills, exciting as Hollywood, family-friendly as the Miracle Mile, or scenic as the Laurel Canyon area. It’s a great place to live if you want to live right in the heart of L.A., like to bike or walk, and want easy access to shops and stores. The area is filled with substantial apartment blocks, so finding a place isn’t that hard. Finding a parking spot is nearly impossible, though. It’s a noisy place at night, too.

Westwood

Westwood is home to UCLA, which gives it a different feel than nearby Beverly Hills and Bel Air. It’s a great neighborhood for students and families. There’s lots to do in Westwood Village, and the beaches are close by. There are excellent public schools in the area, and it’s well kept and very walkable. Parking can be a problem, however.

Venice

Like many of the “neighborhoods” on this list, Venice is its own city with its own set of mini neighborhoods. It was always a funky place. It was founded in the early 20th century as the Venice of America, and you can still see the canals that wend their way through some of its neighborhoods. For decades, funky equaled seedy, and the area was considered quite downscale. That’s changed, and Venice is now one of the hottest real estate markets in Los Angeles County. Despite its upscale makeover, it’s still a charming place with a big oceanside boardwalk, funky shops, art galleries, and eateries. Residents seem to stick in Venice, so it has more of a sense of community than some other areas. Houses and apartments are usually small and expensive, and commutes anywhere inland can be challenging. There’s more crime than some other areas, too.

The Insider’s Guide to L.A. Neighborhoods rentavaluecar.com

Affordable Car Hire for Los Angeles

Remember, for great rates on car hire in the greater Los Angeles area, contact Value Rental Car, with convenient locations in Los Angeles and Pasadena.

How To Find Great Value Car Rental Services in Europe

value car rental europe

Smart consumers know that value for your dollar is more important than low prices. It doesn’t matter how low the price is if the product isn’t what you expected. This is especially true for car rental. A few online comparison websites dominate car rental, hotel booking, and other travel services. Unfortunately, these big booking apps don’t have anything to do with actually renting cars to customers. They simply act as middlemen. This creates an incentive for car rental companies to bid against each other to seem lower than the others. But the lowest price rarely means that you’ll get great value car rental for your money. This is especially true if you’re trying to rent a car for a European trip.

Renting a Car in Europe Is Different

If you’re used to arranging transportation and lodging in the United States, you might be surprised the first time you try to book the same services in Europe. While the same travel apps might work on your phone, the information you get might not result in the same level of service you receive in the US. And while many of the countries in Europe are part of the E.U., that doesn’t mean that the rules of the road, or local laws about driving or renting a car will be the same from country to country.

Driver’s Licenses for Car Rental

In most European countries, an American or Canadian driver’s license is all you need to rent a car and drive it. However, you should consider your driver’s license as a sort of add-on to your main form of identification, your passport. While that’s all you need in most places, it’s still smart to get an International Driving Permit as well.

Getting an International Driving Permit (IDP) is a lot easier than its official name suggests. All an IDP represents is an accurate translation of your driver’s license into the format that’s familiar overseas. If you’re a member of AAA, you can go to one of their many offices with two passport-sized photos and they’ll make you an IDP for as low as $20. Even though it’s easy to get an IDP, it’s a serious form of identification while traveling. The document is ultimately regulated by the US State Department. In many ways, it’s a much better form of identification than a state-issued driver’s license when you’re abroad.

Where an IDP Is Required

It can be difficult to nail down exactly where you need an IDP  to drive in Europe. There is all sorts of conflicting advice on the Internet. This advice is often made even more confusing by language barriers during translation. It’s true that you may never be asked for a copy of your IDP while renting a car or driving in Europe. That doesn’t mean you might not need it in a pinch. Some countries technically require that you carry one, even though no one seems to ask for one for day-to-day transactions. These include many Eastern European countries like Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, but also a few large western European countries like Spain. If you’re involved in a car accident, for instance, and you don’t have one, you might have a very hard time with the local police.

Different Countries, Different Rules

Americans travel freely from state to state, and for the most part, you can expect the same kinds of laws and customs wherever you go. While the European Union is similar, the individual countries in it are still very different, and it can be disorienting to travel from one to the next.

For instance, finding a great value car rental in one country doesn’t mean it’s a great value everywhere. If you pick up a rental car in one country, you might find that it’s nearly impossible to drop it off in another country. It doesn’t matter that the car rental company is the same in both places. Local laws apply.

Daily Rental Is More Than Just an Expression

In general, car rental contracts are charged in 24-hour periods. In Europe, the times for pickup and dropoff are closely measured. If you’re only a few minutes late, you might find yourself paying for a whole day anyway.

To guard against extra charges, never schedule your pickup any earlier than you really need it. That way, you’ll enjoy a later drop off time to go with your later pick up time. Some European car rental companies allow you to drop off your car after hours. They have a drop box for car keys for your convenience. However, be careful how this service is set up. In some places, you won’t get credit for dropping off your rental car until the business opens up in the morning and processes your return.

It’s Cheaper Away From Major Travel Hubs

If you’re trying to get value car rental for your money, avoid renting at airports and other major travel hubs. It’s cheaper to rent from car rental company locations in smaller cities and towns. Public transit is much better in Europe than in most parts of America. That makes it possible to take a bus or train from the airport to your destination, then rent a car there.

Be aware, however, that European businesses are much less likely to be open late or available seven days a week. In some countries, businesses are closed for long periods at midday. It can be hard to find open businesses on weekends as well. Many countries celebrate holidays you’ve never heard of, so it pays to phone ahead and ask.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

In America, it’s considered an upgrade to get a bigger, fancier car for the same rate as an economy model. That’s not always true when renting a car in Europe. European roads, especially in old cities, can be very narrow. Parking is almost always harder than in the states. It can be nearly impossible to find inexpensive parking in a city center for a full-sized sedan.

Can You Drive a Stick Shift Rental Car?

Americans might also be surprised to find out how many European rental cars come with a stick shift. Fuel is more expensive in Europe, and stick shift cars get better mileage, which makes them more common overseas. If you’re not able to drive a stick shift, make sure you specify an automatic when you’re making your reservation. Automatics aren’t “automatic” over there.

One more thing about driving a stick shift. Even if you’re able to drive stick, you might find it nearly impossible in countries like Great Britain where the driver sits on the right-hand side of the car, and operates the shift with the left hand.

Fees Can Take a Big Bite

In some ways, European car rental has more options than in the United States. It’s possible to customize your rental arrangements more closely than with American car rental contracts. There are more types of cars, and more ways to pay. However, this versatility can come at a price. European car rental companies rely on fees to keep their contracts profitable than in the United States. Not all of those fees will be obvious.

To avoid big surprises, it’s smart to plan ahead. Getting true value car rental in Europe is easiest if you specify the details of your trip well in advance. Planning ahead means fewer surprises. Fewer surprises means fewer add-ons and fees that make the costs pile up. One more thing: it’s smart to pay for your car rental before you make your trip. You can avoid paying poor currency conversion rates when you try to change your American dollars for foreign currency on the spot.

(For more information, check out the Value Rental Car Pinterest page for Car Rental in Other Countries)

Remember, for the ultimate in convenience for car rental in the Los Angeles and Pasadena area, rely on Value Rental Car for the best rates on the best cars.