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Senior Correspondent

Everyone wants to save money on a rental car, but you don’t want to spend hours and hours just to save a little cash. After all, if you need to spend two hours online to save 10 dollars on your rental car reservations, that’s hardly worth the time and effort. With that in mind, here are five quick and easy ways to save money with minimum effort.

The first step is to determine the kind of car you need. While it’s tempting to get the biggest and most luxurious car, that’s rarely going to be the best deal, especially if you are traveling alone or with just your significant other. In addition to smaller cars being cheaper to rent, you’ll also spend less money on gas because smaller vehicles are generally more fuel efficient. So just remember that bigger is not always better when it comes to rental cars.

The second easy tip is location, location, location. To be more specific, if the rental location is an airport then it’s usually going to cost more. That’s because nearly every airport has additional taxes and fees for rental cars (legislators know that most people coming through the airport are from out of town, meaning they are not local voters, so it’s tempting for them to tack on all kinds of surcharges and fees). Of course there are many times when you simply have no other choice but to rent from an airport location, and there are certainly good deals to be had on airport rental cars, but it’s also a good idea to also check non-airport locations in the immediate area. You can often take a free shuttle or cheap taxi ride to pick up your rental car and save a lot of money. And if you are looking to rent a car in your local area, be sure to check the rates at the neighborhood rental locations and compare those with the airport rental car rates, including all taxes and fees.

Another tip is to decline the prepaid gas option that you’ll certainly be offered at the rental car counter. It’s almost always a bad deal, and it only takes a couple extra minutes to fill the tank yourself before you return the car. Just be sure that you actually do fill up the tank, because it can be very costly if you don’t with some companies charging close to $10 a gallon.

The fourth tip is to give the car a quick examination before leaving the lot. Take a walk all the way around the car and look for scratches, dings and dents. If you notice anything, even something small, make sure you report it before you drive off to eliminate any chance that the rental car company tries to claim that you caused the damage to the car.

The final tip is to book early, but also to take the time to check the rates a few times before you pick up the car. It’s usually easy to cancel or change a car rental reservation with no penalty or fee, so book the lowest rate you can find as far in advance as possible. Then take a couple minutes every week or two before your trip and see if the rates have changed. If you find a better deal, then cancel your original booking and lock in that lower rate.

None of these five tips will take up much of your time, but any or all of them could result in there being more money left in your pocket when you return your rental car.

Whether you’re renting a from a big vendor like Enterprise and Hertz, or a small vendor like E-Z Rent-A-Car, these tips will help you rent the cheapest car possible.

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