Compare rates between US and local agencies
US rental car agencies like Hertz, Enterprise, and Avis are convenient and operate in many different countries abroad, but their rates are often more expensive than local or national agencies. Be sure to compare rates online through sites like Kayak or Expedia. Also, be aware of holiday and other peak tourist-season pricing.
There are a few ways to save money when renting abroad: first, specialty pricing may be offered through your airline or a travel membership programs, like AAA. Second, If you have some flexibility in your travel schedule, it’s not uncommon for local agencies to offer walk-in service for short-term and weekend car rentals. It may pay to wait until you arrive to book. And finally, thanks to the sharing economy, there are a number of popular trip and rideshare options in Europe, including BlaBlaCar and Liftshare.
Make sure you're covered in case of accident or theft
Your personal car insurance probably won’t cover a rental car abroad, let alone an accident in a foreign country. Which means it's crucial to both: a) get at least the basic insurance, and b) read the fine print to know exactly what said basic insurance covers. For example, mandated liability coverage in Europe protects all accident-related damage to anyone or anything outside the car. It's also worth asking if the agency offers zero-deductible collision damage waiver (CDW) coverage. It’s probably expensive, but it will give you peace of mind if there’s an accident or issue on the road. And finally, there's loss and damage waiver (LDW) and theft protection. These may be secondary considerations but in some countries like Italy, where vehicle theft is common, it’s mandatory.
Before you agree to the rental car company's insurance, however, make sure your travel credit card doesn't offer some type of international coverage. If it does, it could be your cheapest option. Then again, always read the fine print and make sure there are no specific clauses and exclusions to liability coverage.