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Money Fix: How to save on car rentals

If you must get insurance from a car

If you must get insurance from a car rental company, read the contract carefully and ask questions, experts advise. Credit: iStock

With summer vacation season in full swing, there's a good chance you'll rent a car. Once you're through arguing about what type of vehicle to rent, your other big decisions are what type of insurance to get and how to save a few bucks.

Here are answers to both.

Protect yourself. "If you own a car, find out how much coverage you already have. In most cases, insurance and deductibles provided by your auto policy would apply to a rental car if you're using the car for recreation, not business," says Jeanne Salvatore, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute, a trade group in Manhattan. Check with your credit card company; they also typically offer some protection.

If you must get insurance from the rental company, read the contract carefully and ask questions. There are often options such as personal accident insurance, which covers you and your passengers for medical and ambulance bills for injuries, and a loss damage waiver, which lets you off the hook financially if your rental car is damaged or stolen.

Be strategic. Book a small car that comes with lower rates and you'll likely receive a free upgrade to a bigger vehicle, says Bob Diener, co-founder of

Skip airport rentals. They're more expensive because of airport fees. "Airport locations average $85 per day, compared to $41 per day elsewhere," says Andrew Young, editorial director of

Say no to extras. Bring your own baby seat. Says Diener, "Use your phone instead of renting a GPS device and save up to $15 a day."

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