Sept. 4, 2013 -- intro: Rental cars provide an invaluable level of convenience for many travelers. But with all the rental car add-ons and options available, including gas and insurance, charges can reach into the hundreds of dollars if drivers are not careful.
For three days, using three rental car companies, "The Lookout" team traveled more than 500 miles from New Orleans to Nashville (renting nine cars in between) to find the best ways travelers could save money. Along the way rental car expert and VroomVroomVroom.com Director David Eastes shared his tips for how to save while renting a car.
quicklist: title: Book Wisely text: Try to book in advance, especially if you are planning to rent a car during peak seasons such as Christmas or summer time. Eastes suggests booking at least two or three months in advance, if possible, to ensure the best savings.
quicklist: title: Get Outside the Airport text: If you cannot book your rental car in advance, consider renting outside the airport. Even with a cab, Eastes won out on savings during a Lookout experiment.
quicklist: title: Don't Say 'Yes' to Everything text: When it comes to all the add-ons available, Eastes advises opting for only basic insurance when renting a car. "I really think that's all you need, the basic insurance," and "don't take the GPS, bring your phone, bring your own GPS from home, it'll save you a ton of cash," Eastes says.
quicklist: title: Watch for the Taxes text: Eastes warns that when you decide to upgrade your rental car, or include any add-ons, all the taxes on each of those charges will increase, as well in your final bill.
quicklist: title: Do Your Research text: To make sure you will get the best deal possible on your rental car, Eastes suggests visiting sites that compare rates across car rental websites, to save time and money.
quicklist: title: Pump Your Own Gas text: It is usually cheaper to refill the tank yourself. Avoid paying huge premiums often charged when you return with an empty tank.