How do I go about renting a mini-van in Las Vegas?
October 12, 2012 3:07 PM   Subscribe

I've never rented a car before. What is the best way to go about doing this in Las Vegas, NV?

I'm looking to rent a mini-van in Las Vegas in 4 weeks (second weekend of Nov).

- How do I go about getting the best price?
- What are good companies to look at for a mini-van?
- What pitfalls should I worry about?
- I have Car Rental Theft and Damage protection on my AMEX, do I really just need to charge it on there and I'm good to go? Is there anything I need to do to protect myself?

We'll be flying into the Vegas airport and we'll be renting for 4 nights.
posted by just.good.enough to Travel & Transportation around Las Vegas, NV (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Just like you can do with flights, you can use kayak and Expedia and so on to comparison shop rental cars.

For ease of use, map the locations of the rental agencies before booking and make sure you don't have to take some annoying shuttle to a far-from-the-airport building.
posted by phunniemee at 3:12 PM on October 12, 2012

Be sure to return the vehicle with as much gas as when you picked it up! Defaulting to the rental agency adding gas is sometimes 2x the going price per gallon!
posted by uhom at 3:15 PM on October 12, 2012

Best answer: In Las Vegas, almost all of the rental agencies are housed in the same off-site building, which you will take a shuttle to. (But it's not that annoying.) I rent there frequently and usually find the Dollar has the best rates. Plus if you reserve now and keep watching the prices, you can update the price if it drops. (But you do have to be vigilant, it won't be automatic.)

Do you have your own auto insurance? It will probably cover your rental as well, but confirm with your agent. Most of the time any of the insurance the rental company will offer you is unnecessary.

Also, plan on filling up the gas tank on the way back to the return, and carefully note even the slightest damage to the vehicle before you take it off the lot.
posted by ferociouskitty at 3:16 PM on October 12, 2012

If you're over 25, have a credit card, that credit card includes rental car insurance coverage, and you're picking up and returning the car/van to the same place, it's really pretty easy. Comparison shop for the best price for the specific vehicle you want, pick up the vehicle, return it with a full tank of gas, done!

If you're *not* over 25 or will be doing a one-way rental, that doesn't mean you won't be able to rent at all, but you'll want to specify that here. Rental car companies and even particular rental locations of those rental car companies have specific and/or limiting policies surrounding those three things, so some firms will be much easier to work with than others.
posted by eschatfische at 3:38 PM on October 12, 2012

If you have a membership, Costco has a travel deals - including rental cars.
posted by GPF at 3:40 PM on October 12, 2012

Folks have already covered most of what I'd say, but I'll add one point relating to this:

Be sure to return the vehicle with as much gas as when you picked it up! Defaulting to the rental agency adding gas is sometimes 2x the going price per gallon!

Check out what the rates are for having the company refill the tank. I've found that Enterprise, in particular, occasionally charges less than the current price of fuel. It doesn't always happen, but sometimes it is actually cheaper to let them refill the tank for you!
posted by asnider at 3:41 PM on October 12, 2012

sometimes it is actually cheaper to let them refill the tank for you!

Note, this only applies if you set it up when you pick up the car. They will offer the company refill option at a set per gallon rate. Pay attention, because I have seen it where you pay for a whole tank at that rate in advance. If there is any concern about tight timing for your airport return trip, might be worth the peace of mind not trying to find a gas station on the way to the airport. Vegas isn't that bad for it, but it's always another factor in a time sensitive situation.
posted by shinynewnick at 4:23 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you're doing a ton of driving, buy the tank of gas, it's cheaper. There are easy to get to gas stations on the way back to the airport, so do what makes sense.

If you plan on going to Az ask about taking the car to another state. It's not usually an issue, but they can change the charge for miles.

Call Amex about the insurance. It's not the whole car, it may just be your deductible. If you don't have comp and collision on your insurance, buy the insurance.

Have fun!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:58 PM on October 12, 2012

Best answer: Kayak first to get the best public rate, then compare vs. Costco. If it's more than seems reasonable try Hotwire (Kayak has a comparison checkbox for them) as well. Priceline can be even cheaper than any of those but requires playing their game. If you are under 25 make absolutely sure any rate you see accounts for the young-driver surcharge.

Having insurance is always a big deal, not just the cost of the car but also third-party liability. I'm not a lawyer, insurance agent, etc. but I have read lots of "Travel Troubleshooter" columns and this is what I understand about the problems people run into. Read the policy, check with your own auto insurance (if you have it) and see what your coverage is. Under no circumstances should you accept the company's coverage, it is always the most expensive available. if you aren't satisfied with your AmEx coverage, Travel Guard offers collision damage for $9 a day but that obviously don't have liability. Don't let anyone who is not an authorized driver get behind the wheel, because then all your insurance could be void.

This sort of thing shouldn't be necessary in a civilized country, but for my own piece of mind I always take an HD movie (preferred) or pictures of the sides, top, and spare tire (if any) before and after the rental. You never know when they are going to make a bogus claim about the various dings on the car (because all rental cars have dings) and charge the full price of replacing the bumper. Don't accept any car with the check engine light on, no matter what the staff says.
posted by wnissen at 5:40 PM on October 12, 2012

Good advice from all here - the process is pretty painless from LV. Make sure you know what coverage you need/don't need before you get there -- Ms Liquado panicked at the counter, and it wound up costing us a bunch more, because we didn't know exactly what our card covered.

And, if you find a copy of Finding Nemo in your DVD player, it's mine.
posted by liquado at 10:16 PM on October 14, 2012

Response by poster: I'm going with the coverage on my AMEX.

I ended up using, expedia, and kayak to look for prices. After clicking through to each company's website, I actually found better prices.

It turns out that Alamo is also running a 15% deal. This means we're paying about $55 out-the-door per day for our minivan. Not so bad with 6 people splitting. The last thing to note was that the price fluctuations are crazy (it was 50% more the week before on the same booking). I'll probably be periodically checking the prices until the trip.
posted by just.good.enough at 3:43 PM on October 24, 2012

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