Car rental recommendations in Omaha, NE?
January 6, 2010 10:19 PM   Subscribe

Car rental recommendations in Omaha, NE?

I'm going to Omaha, NE at the end of the month and I'm wary of car rental. I need to rent a car for an interview, and for approximately one day. I looked up Alamo (it was the cheapest) online and the approximate cost for the least expensive car was about 46 dollars for a day. I have two concerns. First, I don't know the quality of the car that will be given to me. I'm worried that it'll be a total dump and ill equipped to drive in snow-y weather conditions. I selected online the most economical car, but in reality, when I get there, I won't know how capable the car is. Second, I'm concerned about all these bad experiences people have had with car rentals. For example, getting charged extra afterwards on their credit car for damages the company later found out. I'm on a tight budget and must be at this interview. I'm just stagnant on deciding on what my options are and what I have to do.

So my questions are:
(1) Anyone have experience with car rental in Omaha, and how was it?
(2) Is there anything else I should consider in renting a car? It'll be my first time and I'm just paranoid about the whole process. Are there reviews of service for car rentals for region? I checked yelp Omaha and it was basically dead.
(3) Does anyone know why some car rental companies are more expensive/varied than others? The prices for the same amount of time and least expensive vehicle are not consistent. And I'm wondering if it's because other car rentals have better reputations/cars.

posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation around Omaha, NE (3 answers total)
I'm assuming you're over 25...if not, expect some surcharges and limitations on what you can do. If you're over 25, try Hotwire car rentals--I've never been disappointed and you get great prices from a national chain.

I rented from Enterprise in Omaha a few months ago and had no issues. If you see, a few days before the rental, that inclement weather is predicted, call and ask for a better car. If you deal with any reputable national chain, you should be fine. People have their horror stories, but as with most things, these tend to be outliers.

Make sure that you walk around the car before you sign the car out, looking for any dents, dings, or marks. Note those, so that you won't be charged if you return with the same car.

Also, find out if you have accident liability--whether through your regular policy or a credit card--and if not, you might want to sign up for it when you rent.

I wouldn't freak out too much--renting a car, especially for one day in a city that's pretty easy to get around, isn't such a big deal.

Print out directions to all your prospective stops beforehand if you don't have access to a GPS.
posted by j1950 at 12:11 AM on January 7, 2010

I used to live overseas and when I'd fly home (which was frequently) I'd always rent a car. I have frequently rented cars for vacations, road trips and more. And I have never, never had an issue with a car rental company regarding hassles, shitty vehicles or extra charges. My MO is to get on expedia, rent the cheapest car possible that fits my needs, and take it. I have used pretty much every known company with no problems from any.

That said, here are some tips/info:
— I think most rental cars are dealer castoffs — so they have mileage too high to be sold but are basically brand new. That's why there are tons of PT Cruisers as rentals. Most of my rental cars are way nicer than my own car, with satellite radio, fancy doodads and whatnot.
— You can ask to see and test drive any car they want to give you. Make sure it is big enough for you and safe to drive in the conditions you are concerned about. Although I'm not sure it snows a lot on Omaha so you may be over-worrying.
— Usually on your forms you get a diagram of the car where you can notate any outstanding damage before you leave the lot. My husband and I also always point this out to the clerk. We have never been charged for damages on a car (probably because we've never caused any) so as long as you aren't burning holes in the carpet with cigarettes for fun or taking it out on road rallies you'll be safe.
— If you have your own car already, check with your insurance company on whether your policy covers you in a rental car. If not, you might want to buy the rental company's insurance policy. Or you might not. It's up to you, just make sure you aren't already covered before you buy.
— It's a lot cheaper to rent a car for a week than it is for a single day, so if you'll be in Omaha more than one night you might want to extend the rental. Usually it's about $100 for a week vs $50 a day.

Again, all of this applies only if you're over 25.
posted by Brittanie at 7:37 AM on January 7, 2010

I haven't rented from the desk at Epply, but I've rented cars many times. You'll generally be given the opportunity to walk around the car with a representative and the both of you can point out defects and the like which are then written into the contract. I'd definitely stick with a national chain--I live in the metro area and don't know of any local rental providers much less have one I'd recommend.

Omaha is definitely not an 'on-line' community w/r/t websites that are helpful in larger cities so things like Yelp aren't going to be all too helpful. If you have specific questions for lodging, best way to get places, etc, feel free to ask me via MeMail.

When renting I'd always reserve the cheapest/economy car. Chances are if you hit them at the right time they'll be out of the smaller cars and--presto--instant upgrade. Doesn't happen every time, but it doesn't hurt to try. If you go this route and don't get an upgrade but end up wanting a bigger/more luxurious car, they're *always* happy to upsell you and you're still just paying the posted rate. If you're in to negotiations, you can give it a try. There's a great deal of flexibility afforded to the reps w/r/t getting you into something other than the bargain beater.

I'd also generally recommend against the renter's insurance offering unless it's not on your dime. The rates are criminal when compared against your own insurance.

Alternately--and this is what I did when I flew in to interview--arrange for a taxi. You always have to call ahead (no flagging cabs--we're not big city enough for that) but it will probably be cheaper if you're lodging and interviewing in the metro area. Taxi to hotel + taxi to interview + taxi back to hotel / airport was cheaper than renting.
posted by Fezboy! at 2:36 PM on January 7, 2010

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