Car rental from Baltimore airport

Apr 23rd, 2017, 06:19 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 19
Car rental from Baltimore airport

We will be traveling to USA from New Zealand shortly and we want to pick up a rental car from Baltimore airport. On a previous trip we had organized and prepaid for a rental from Newark airport out of New York. When we arrived to pick up the car we were charged 3 times the quoted price. Can someone recommend a car company where all charges are listed and paid for up front please?
krwicke is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2017, 08:54 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 292
krwicke, my most recent rental at BWI was in November. I can attest to the fact that final charges were what I had expected. But I'm unfamiliar with being able to pay up front. That might be because I never pay gas up front, so my card is not charged until drop-off. Regardless you should still be given a contract that shows the correct price; if it's not the price you booked, it's time to take a breath, go over every initialing point, and start asking questions.

I can't guess what the issues could have been with your NJ/NY rental, but I do know that the rental pickup process can be a minefield: exhausted, hungry, possibly frustrated travelers, dealing with multiple screens that you are expected to read, review, understand, evaluate and sign, while the waiting queue grumbles that you just need to get on with it already.

A few tips re: BWI: like most large airports in the US, car rentals are consolidated off-site. Even if your email confirmation says car is at BWI, it isn't on airport property. Follow signs to car rental shuttles. You'll be driven to the actual rental location in Hanover, MD. At the counter, make sure you have your confirmation email showing the estimated total.

Then, going through the agreement with agent, make sure you already know how you will answer questions about insurance coverage, additional drivers, and a biggie at BWI, the issue of tolls. (Transponders recommended, lots of cashless tolls in the area.) You should consider the price of the toll transponder when shopping for your rental company. Example: in November '16, Budget's charge for the device was a whopping $10 less PER DAY than Alamo's.

Be sure you don't get stuck with an unwanted GPS if you already have access to an app or your own nav device. ( if you WANT GPS, different story, but you'll pay) And remember that most rentals here (IME) are smoke-free, with huge penalties if that's not honored. Then there is the gas option, as mentioned, which will just depend on your anticipated usage. If you DO need to gas up for drop off, there are several convenient stations less than 3 miles from the return center, on the same road, near Arundel Mills Mall. Gas Buddy showed their prices in line with areas NOT near the airport, so no worries about paying extra for convenience.

Another rate increase factor would be dropping off at a different location. Just this past week I needed an airport pick-up (BNA) but a city dropoff. For that privilege I paid a fee equivalent to the daily base rate. (This is not always the case)

A final thing that comes to mind are taxes. Lots and lots of taxes. My recent BWI rental included taxes equal to 30% of the vehicle charge. As bad as this is, it won't be a surprise, as it will already be on your email confirmation.

Those are a few things to watch for during the booking and pick-up routines. Sorry for writing a tome, just wanted to cover a few pitfalls that could lead to unpleasant surprises.

Hope your USA trip is a success.
lifes2short is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2017, 11:19 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2017
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Hey That's all fantastic advice. Many thanks krwicke
krwicke is offline  
Apr 24th, 2017, 01:56 AM
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Great advice above. Want to stress the insurance thing. From what I understand many car rental companies in US make non-US renters buy the "optional" insurance, regardless of your coverage at home. It is the insurance that is the price inflater - so make sure when you are getting quotes the company knows you are non-US and it includes insurance.
gail is offline  
Apr 25th, 2017, 01:17 AM
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Yes this does seem to be an extra and one that we would not risk not choosing. Thank you. krwicke
krwicke is offline  
Apr 25th, 2017, 05:57 AM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,230
Many non US renters use carhire3000.
You know up front what it will cost with the insurance.
There is an Amtrak train station at BWI if you are going to an area served by the trains.
tomfuller is offline  
Apr 25th, 2017, 09:05 AM
Join Date: Aug 2009
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When you rent directly from the rental co site, they don't add anything extra when you show up unless they are optionals that you choose. Did you use a third-party site last time and was it a one-way rental? If you did, your transaction was with them, not the rental company, and they probably either didn't mention whatever caused the difference or they did and you missed it somewhere in the terms.

In any event, I'd suggest you take the MARC from BWI to Union Station in DC (45 minutes) and rent there. Or downtown Baltimore. I just checked on the Hertz site, selected NZ as residence at upper right of page, took a 10% discount they had for US, and used 6/16-6/30 for rental period. For BWI it was US$718. That was total price, included all the over the counter insurance. Same info except Union Station as location was US$428. Again, total price, all over the counter insurance included. The additional insurance is usually included in rentals by foreign residents and it doesn't cost extra. Nothing to do with these third-party sites. They simply pass on what the rental co provides.

There's also a local Hertz branch in Glen Burnie, a short cab ride from BWI, although it is temporarily closed until May 1. Same price $428. Also same at Hilton in Baltimore near Camden Yard (Light Rail goes from BWI to there).

I'd do one of these. $150/week less than BWI. Glen Burnie is the easiest and quickest to get to.
weimarer is offline  
Apr 25th, 2017, 10:38 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 2,973 is a subsidiary of which I have heard is owned by Priceline and yes they will include all the insurance you would need on the car.
Most rental car companies will try and upsell you on other stuff like GPS, roadside assistance and fuel refill option all of which you can decline.
jamie99 is offline  
Apr 25th, 2017, 01:04 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2017
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Once again thanks to life2short and gail this was really helpful I have a couple of follow ups. We have insurance only to cover the rental insurance excess on our travel insurance , our home car insurance wont cover anything overseas. I presume that the car hire companies all carry insurance for their vehicles and for third party injury? Is so does one need any extra insurance? Also what is the best way to get to BWI from Washington - is there a rail service? many thanks
krwicke is offline  
Apr 25th, 2017, 07:39 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
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There are more than 12 Northeast Regional trains from Washington Union station to BWI (going onward to New York) every day. The fare is $16/per adult. The fare on the Acela trains is $40/adult and they get there 5 minutes faster which does not seem worth it to me.
Washington Union station is on top of a major Metro station.
You do not need a rental car anywhere in the Washington area.
tomfuller is offline  
Apr 25th, 2017, 07:46 PM
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>>From what I understand many car rental companies in US make non-US renters buy the "optional" insurance, regardless of your coverage at home.<<

That is true of foreigners renting directly anywhere (Americans in the UK, Brits or Kiwis in the US, etc.)

BUT that is not an issue for foreign visitors if they rent through one of the brokers that caters to them. They get quotes that include insurance, unlimited mileage, one way drop offs etc. car-hire3000 is one of the most well known.
janisj is online now  
Apr 26th, 2017, 01:12 AM
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This is the first time I have used this forum and am overwhelmed by the level of support from everyone. Many thanks! We have now booked a car from Union Station in Washington DC which was about half the price of the car rental from the airport.
krwicke is offline  
Apr 26th, 2017, 04:57 AM
Join Date: Aug 2009
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"BUT that is not an issue for foreign visitors if they rent through one of the brokers that caters to them. They get quotes that include insurance, unlimited mileage, one way drop offs etc. car-hire3000 is one of the most well known."

The 'over-the-counter' additional insurance is included in the rental by the car rental company itself for foreign visitors, not the booking site. They do not provide anything extra. If there is no one-way charge when you book thru a third-party, it is because the rental company is not charging one. The third-party sites simply make a reservation in your name and charge you what they want at the time. They then wait until the rate goes down or specials are on offer from the rental company as your date gets closer (happens more often than not) and they then cancel the first reservation, make a new one at the lower price and pay for it then. You, by booking thru them, end up paying a higher price than you would have if you had just done the same thing yourself directly thru the rental company. That's how they make money.
weimarer is offline  
Apr 26th, 2017, 06:08 AM
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weimarer: The brokers (like autoeurope, car-hire3000, etc) often do get much better packages/bundled prices than the agencies offer through their own websites.

Autoeurope is cheaper w/ more included than the majors they book you with probably 70-80% of the time. The rare xceptions are usually when Hertz/Avis/whomever are running a special with the airline or something like that.

I typically save 15% to nearly 40% using the brokers (I rent overseas a LOT)
janisj is online now  
Apr 26th, 2017, 09:39 AM
Join Date: Jun 2016
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Your problem was that when you booked in NY, they gave you a domestic rate plan. You need an international rate plan so you have to tell the car company that you are from New Zealand.
Everything will be included in the rate quote, but that doesn't mean that the car counter agent won't try to sell you extras. If something like a GPS sounds good to you, make sure you know the they might tell you that it's $10 when actually it's $10 per day.
With an international rate plan, the collision plan is not insurance. It is a waiver of any responsibility for damage, so it's better than insurance really as you will have nothing to deal with on return if there is car damage.
Note that returning the car a day late, or even a few hours late, in some cases can change your rate plan or trigger a late penalty. If your plans change, call the car company from the road, don't just return the car at a different time or location without notifying them.
It looks like your best rate will be from
DebbieDoesDulles is offline  
Apr 26th, 2017, 04:47 PM
Join Date: Jun 2016
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In general I would avoid and priceline. They use a third-party insurer for the collision which can be a HUGE hassle to deal with if you have car damage.

Deal directly with the rental company. They are not selling you collision "insurance" but are WAIVING ALL DAMAGE to the vehicle. No hassles, no problems, no months of paperwork dealing with your insurance, pricelines insurance, your credit card etc etc etc.
DebbieDoesDulles is offline  
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