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Consumer Reports is one of my favorite magazines. You’re always going to get an honest appraisal of a product or a service from Consumer Reports.

They recently did an article entitled Rent a Car Without Getting your Wallet Emptied. It was fine as far as it went, but I don’t think it emphasized where you can save the most when renting.

I start by going online to any of the travel sites that compares the pricing of the various agencies. Sites like Expedia, Travelocity, it doesn’t seem to really matter. The prices are about the same. I like to get the biggest car I can that doesn’t cost much more than the cheapest. I’ll upgrade if it’s reasonable and no it’s not the above Porche. Think Nissan Altima.

The biggest expense for renting a car is the insurance, the collision damage waiver or CDW and it’s the trickiest part of renting a car. The CDW can double the cost of renting. The Consumer Reports article touches on this, but doesn’t spell it out specifically. “American Express and many Visa and MasterCard programs also supply rental-car insurance, so long as you pay using that card.”

Here is the deal, you have to rent with a credit card not a debit card. Use a Visa Credit Card and the CDW is covered for three weeks.

The counter people will work you over for the CDW and additional insurance. It’s how they make their money. Ignore them.

I was just looking at renting a car in San Francisco on Expedia and the CDW was included in the rental, no Visa credit card required. I advise everyone to be careful. Call your credit card company and make sure of the coverage and read the insurance portion of the Rental Agreement. They’re usually trying to screw you some how.

And agree to bring the gas tank full rather than any of the other options.

That’s it. Be careful out there! If you’re renting a car in Thailand, remember it’s the most dangerous place to drive in the world. I would avoid driving here, if possible. Driving in a third world country is a different cup of tea.