WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- Renting a car can be a confusing process. Online deals promote bargain basement rates. But, the upgrades, insurance, taxes and fees may make you wonder whether it's really a deal at all.
Over 1.6 million rental cars are available each year over 17,000 locations. Those rental dollars contribute to a $20 billion industry and lots of options.
Where to begin? Check with your company, alumni group, airline mileage program or youir member organizations to see if they offer discounts with particular companies.
Search a variety of travel websites and book early, rates can rise as your rental date approaches.
When possible, avoid airport locations where you'll face steep concession fees.
"One of our insider tips is to actually look at the city center when renting a car, as opposed to the airport, as it's significantly cheaper. However, you really need to factor in the cost of transportation in the city center, in terms of taxi or public transit," says Kayak.com spokesperson Kevin Turner.
And whether or not to accept insurance can be the most expensive decision you make.
Travel expert Jill Rosenberg says, "Most people are covered with their credit card, most people are covered with their car insurance, and as an educated consumer, you always need to look at the options."
Be aware that you may not be covered for liability and a claim could affect your personal auto insurance.
So, research your options. The time you spend today will save you dollars down the road.
If you're a member of AAA, you'll save even more money by declining the rental car company's roadside assistance, since the auto group covers you for that service.
Six Ways To Pay Less For A Rental Car
And opting for a compact car instead of a mid-size one will lower your daily rate by almost $20.