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How to save money renting a car

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(ANGIE'S LIST) - Families are already dreaming of those summertime getaways.

You've spent a lot of time planning your perfect vacation – from booking the hotel to researching restaurants. But there's one thing you may have overlooked - saving money on your rental car.

Megan McCain and her family are flying to their spring break destination. Once they arrive, they'll need to pick up their rental car

"It was fairly easy. We went on the website and looked for a car that would fit five people with two car seats so we needed a car with a third row," says McCain.

Renting a car is a convenient option for many families – but it's often an afterthought. Doing some legwork before you arrive at our vacation destination can really pay off.

Jeff Neiman with Hertz Corporation says, "If your plans are pretty definite prepaying is a really good option. You can save up to 20 percent if you pre-pay. Now, there could be a fee if you cancel so that's got to be a pretty firm plan."

"When renting a car, shop around. A lot of times people are picking up cars at the airport when they fly into their destination, but you may find it may be worth a cab ride to an off-site location because they might have lower fees," says Angie Hicks from Angie's List.

One common mistake consumers make when renting a car – not reading their rental agreement before they sign.

Hicks says, "Many times people rent cars over their vacation, but they last thing they want to do is read the details of the agreement on their way to having some fun, but it's important. You need to understand what you're responsible for with that car, what happens if it breaks down, what happens if you get into an accident? Know exactly what your obligations are."

"Treat it like it's your own. What would you do if you got into an accident in your car? You'd report it to the authorities. You would come back and let the rental car company know and fill out an accident report and go from there," says Neiman.

Don't buy unnecessary insurance if you don't need it. Rental car insurance can cost as much as $40 a day, and you may already be covered by your existing auto insurance policy or credit card. So determine your existing coverage before you buy more.

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