Suggestions for Trouble-Free Car Rental Experience

Hawaii is a beautiful and relaxing location. Whether you plan to visit for a vacation or business, your car rental should be as pleasant as the islands’ gentle tradewinds. Knowing what to expect before arriving will make your car rental experience seamless. As you prepare to rent a car for your Hawaiian visit, we hope you’ll find the following recommendations helpful.

1. Rent Your Vehicle ASAP

As soon as you know your travel itinerary, reserve your vehicle. This is especially important during holiday and peak season travel dates. Recently, due to economic considerations, car rental companies have had to reduce their fleet inventories. They are booking cars 6-months out at times.

Our neighbors recently told us that, years ago, they thought they could wait until they arrived in Honolulu to rent a car. Instead of saving money on their imagined fun convertible, they “paid top-dollar to rent the last vehicle on the lot— a pickup truck.” Consider the benefits of renting an economy car in Hawaii.

2. Read Your Contract

One of the big complaints customers voice is receiving surcharges. Rental car companies aren’t “out to get you”, but they are in the business of protecting themselves. Their surcharges are designed to cover the extra costs of filling empty gas tanks, repairing damage, or replacing convertible tops you left balled in the back of the vehicle. If you read no further than this paragraph, we hope you will follow this one piece of advice: Familiarize yourself with your rental contract.

By simply honoring the conditions of your contract, you’ll save yourself headaches later. Be honest about the ages of young drivers. If you plan to have additional drivers, list them. Rental companies are understanding with regard to small parking lot door dings, but if you cause damage by backing into the lava, tell them. If you plan to pick up and drop off your vehicle in different locations, know whether “drop charges” apply for this. Unless unavoidable, plan to return your vehicle with a full tank of gas. In Hilo, Costco members can take advantage of a gas station very close to the airport. If you rent a Jeep with a removable top, return it as you found it.

3. Know When to Return Your Vehicle

Rental vehicles are leased out in 24 Hour time increments. If you rent your car at 10 a.m. you should return it by 10 a.m to avoid additional charges. Most rental companies allow a grace period of 59 minutes- but check to make sure that’s true for your individual rental. In reading your contract, you may discover that by arriving only 3 hours late you can incur an entire day’s charges.

4. Accidents or Break-downs

Additionally, by reading your contract before you drive, you will be familiar with the actions needed should your vehicle be involved in an accident or a break-down. You’ll know who to call for road-side assistance. The information for filing necessary accident reports will all be explained in your contract.

5. Base Rate vs Total Cost

When you rent your vehicle online, you should readily see the base rate you will be charged. Just as important is to know the actual cost of your rental per day. Of course, there will be unavoidable local surcharges and taxes. Be aware of how much they will add to the total cost of your rental.

On this website,, your reservation will include all taxes and surcharges, except for 1st-come-1st-serve extras (arranged at pickup) such as Child Seats.

6. Purchasing Rental Car Company Insurance

If you do not own a vehicle, rental company insurance is very affordable. However, if you do own a vehicle, your vehicle insurance will probably cover your driving a rental vehicle. Should you have questions about your coverage, a quick call to your insurance provider will answer them.

7. Inspect your Rental Vehicle

Before you leave the rental company parking lot, inspect your vehicle. A quick walk around your car is all that’s necessary. If you note a dent or large scratch, tell the attendant about it. As noted above, rental companies are very accommodating toward normal wear and tear, but any large areas of damage should be accounted for before you drive off the lot.

Keep that camera (on your phone, in your pocket or camera bag) handy when you pick up your rental car. As you inspect your vehicle before you drive away from the lot, snap photos of damage you see on that initial inspection: stained seats, rock chip in the glass, scratches in the paint, or worn tires. This simple step could help keep your vacation stress-free if questions about damage should arise later.

8. Unlimited Mileage is The Only Way to Go

Why restrict yourself to mileage limits? That unanticipated beach just over the hill could cost you as much as 40¢ to 60¢ per mile. When you rent your vehicle from a company that offers unlimited mileage, you’ll feel free to enjoy the scenic beauty of Hawaii without the added stress of watching an odometer.

9. Adding Free Extra Drivers

Aloha Rents offers free additional drivers for their car rentals. This means that if you are renting a car and someone else in your party is also eligible to drive, they can be added to the rental agreement at no extra cost. This is a great way to share driving responsibilities during your trip and can save you money compared to other car rental companies charging additional drivers.