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Unwanted car upgrade? Negotiate!

SmarterTravel

Many car rental agencies provide a free upgrade when they run out of small cars, but unlike a hotel-room upgrade, getting a larger car can be more of a hindrance than a perk. After all, who wants to pay more for gas than they have to? Reader Karen Anderson of Morgan Hill, California, recently wrote in with her proven strategy for [% 2453862 | | unwanted car rental upgrades %]: Negotiate, instead of taking the company’s first offer.

She and her husband had booked an economy car at JFK airport with Dollar. “When we arrived, the agent told us they only had Chrysler Town & Country vans … We did not need that huge van and the gas mileage was half of the economy car. We were going to be driving quite a bit and this would cost us a great deal more. My husband negotiated a deal where Dollar would pay for half of the gas. That was satisfactory to us. They had no places on our trip where we could have traded for a smaller car.”

If you are faced with an unwanted upgrade, as Anderson was, try to see if there’s any wiggle room. You could request assistance with fuel, a credit toward a future rental, or an opportunity to trade at a neighboring company location. By flexing your negotiation skills, you may find a better deal to go with the larger car.

“Sometimes,” Anderson says, “you have to make a deal and not rely on a policy.”

Have a great travel tip you’d like to share? Send your insider travel strategies to editor@smartertravel.com.

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