Explore Rental’s office is typically open Monday-Saturday from 9-5pm and on Sunday from 10-4pm. Below are protocols of what to expect for various situations like how to pick up or drop off after hours. If you have any questions or would like to amend your reservations, please give us a call at (406)922-0179.
1. Picking up your rental car during standard hours
Default BZN Pick-Up
We will meet you, in your rental car, in the shuttle lane right outside of baggage claim. Due to recent TSA changes, we are no longer allowed to meet our guests inside of the terminal. We will then drive you back to the office to sign the paperwork and give you awesome Montana travel advice. During peak times and holidays, it is often much more efficient for you to call us once the baggage carousel starts turning, and we will meet you at the glass and metal taxi stand, in the shuttle lane, right outside the door closest to the baggage claim. We are only 4-minutes away, and will be expecting you. We will send you a text or leave a voicemail if this is what we need to do. Growth at the Bozeman Airport over the last couple of years has made the shuttle lane an unpleasant place to be, we apologize for this, but really and truly just want to get you on the road as fast and conveniently as possible, and this is often the best way.
We are required to charge the BZN 10% airport concession fee for this service. This is what we will plan on, unless we hear otherwise from you.
RECOMMENDED: Most Economical/ Fastest Car Rental Pick-Up
Schedule a ride in advance with a local taxi service, or book an Uber or Lyft once you touch down. For larger parties we recommend that the primary driver jumps in the taxi ride off the plane, and the rest of the party waits for the luggage. A short 5-minute ride back to office (about $13), sign the paperwork, take the rental back to airport to pick up the rest of crew and bags, then hit the trail. We do not have to charge the 10% BZN concession fee in this scenario. This can also be the second fastest option. You must let us know 24-hours in advance of your arrival if would like this so we are not waiting for you at the airport. Your final balance due will be adjusted so the Concession Fee is not charged.
Most Convenient Pick-Up
We send the paperwork for you to digitally sign in advance (via Adobe Echosign- you can even do it on your phone.) We will then leave the vehicle for you in Premium Parking section B1 right outside of arrivals, or in the Shuttle Lane (depending on your airline and whether or not you have bags) and text you a photo of your exact vehicle and where the keys are. A copy of your paperwork and maps will be left in the center console. This method is subject to 10% BZN concession fees and you may have to pay for parking (first 1-hour is free, $12 max). However, this is the fastest and most convenient option. You must let us know in advance if you wish for this option.
Off-Site Rental Car Pick-Up
We can pick you up at Belgrade hotels for no additional charge, Bozeman hotels for $30. We do not have to charge concession fees for this. Advance notification required.
Off-Site Rental Car Delivery
Paperwork will be sent in advance via AdobeEchosign. We will then leave the vehicle for you at Belgrade Hotels for $30, Bozeman Hotels for $50. We do not need to charge the 10% BZN Concession Fees for this service. We will text a photo of vehicle and how to get keys. Maps and a copy of your rental agreement will be left in center console. Advance notification require.
2. Picking up your rental car after hours
Default After-Hours BZN Pick-Up
If you are arriving after 4:30pm, we will plan on sending you the paperwork electronically 2-business days in advance of your BZN arrival via Adobe Echosign to digitally sign. By 5:00pm your day of arrival, we will leave your rental in premium parking B1, right outside of arrivals. We will text you a photo of the car in its exact location, as well as how to find the keys. A copy of the paperwork and maps will be left in the center console. You will need to pay $12 to exit parking. If you present this receipt on your departure, we will deduct this amount off of total balance due. This services requires us to charge the 10% BZN Concession Fees, but it is extremely convenient.
Most Economical After-Hours Pick-Up
By advance notice, we can send you the paperwork digitally via Adobe Echosign. We will leave the vehicle out front of the office and text you a photo and how to find the keys by close of business of your arrival day, 5:00pm, as well as instructions on how to find the keys. We do not have to charge the 10% concession fees for this service. Advance notice is required.
After-Hours Vehicle Delivery
We can leave the vehicle for you at a location of your choice with advance notice and respective fees. We will send the paperwork via Adobe Echosign in advance for you to digitally sign, and text you a photo and location of the keys when we drop it off. Belgrade Hotels = $30. Bozeman Hotels . = $50.
3. Returning your rental car
Departure flight between 10:30am – 6:00pm
If you are on a departing flight from BZN, of which you would like to be at the airport during our standard business hours (9-5pm), please come by the office 5-minutes prior to when you want to be at the airport. We will settle up and drop you off at the departures terminal. If you do not have room in your rental car for one of us to drive, we ask you to drop the family off at departures than to swing back to the office. If you prefer not to do this, you can park in premium parking, section E1, right across from departures and lock the keys inside the vehicle, inside the center console. We simply ask that you let us know this is what you prefer (or have done) and authorize us to charge an additional $30 to cover the additional airport parking costs ($12) and the extra cost of having two employees to pick up the vehicle.
Departure Flight Outside of Standard Office Hours
If you are departing BZN on one of the early flights, or one of the late flights, you can leave the vehicle parked in Section E1, right outside of the departures terminal. Once you park the car, gather all of your belongings and leave the driver’s door open. Press lock on key fob, place key fob inside center console, now close all doors. We will pick up the vehicle with the second set of keys. Please make sure to leave us the parking ticket in the cup holder. There is no additional charge for this service, as long you have paid the 10% BZN airport concession fee. If you did not pay the fee, we will bill an additional $12 to cover our BZN parking expense.
After Hours Office Return
If you have a pre-arranged late return, you can park your rental out front of our office and leave the keys in our secure key-drop, just to the left of our main office door.
Off-Site Rental Return
By prearrangement, we can coordinate an off-site vehicle pick-up for a fee. Belgrade hotels: $30. Bozeman hotels $50. Big Sky $175. Jackson Hole $650. Kalispell $750.
4. Rental car FAQs
Do I have to return the car full of gas?
Sort of. We do ask renters to return the vehicle with the same amount of fuel as when the vehicle was first received (Full 99% of the time. If you are running late, or simply forgot, we charge the at-pump fuel price to return to full, plus a $5 fee for our time to go fill it up.
What is the mileage policy?
175-miles per day are included with your rental. Additional miles are charged at $.20 per mile.
Do I have to clean the car before I return it?
No. Unless it is a huge mess. Excessively muddy/ dusty/ covered in Cheerios cars will be charged additional cleaning fees. We bill out at $75/ hour. Use common sense and everything will be fine. If you return it a hot-mess, do not be surprised if you incur additional fees.
Can I list additional drivers?
Yes, however, they must be a minimum of 21-years old and possess a valid driver’s license. We do not charge for additional listed drivers. Please mention this at the time of rental when we fill out the paperwork. We can also do it over the phone if your plans change.
Can I take the car into Canada?
Yes, our rental cars are allowed to go into Canada.
Can I put luggage or skis on the roof of the car?
NO. This is a bad idea. Never before has a renter been able to successfully do this without causing severe and expensive damage to the vehicle. Average repair cost has been $1,400- and we will hold the renter entirely responsible. We offer rental Yakima roof top ski boxes, bike racks, and ski racks for this specifically.
Can I tow with the vehicle?
Yes, with some of our vehicles only, and with advance written permission only. We allow towing only with our rental Suburbans, and allow a maximum of 3,000lbs. Towing requires an additional $20/ day to cover our increased risk and wear-and-tear on the vehicle.
5. What to do if something goes wrong
I locked the keys in the car
Well that stinks, but not the end of the world. You are the responsible party. Generally, calling AAA or a locksmith will be the fastest and easiest solution. We are able to bring you a second set of keys if necessary. We bill out at $50 per hour for this service. If you do damage to the vehicle trying to “Break In” you will be held responsible for all repair costs.
I hit an animal/ got in an accident
First, make sure every one is OK and the vehicle is safely out of the way of traffic. If you require emergency services, dial 911. If you do not have cell phone coverage, try to flag down another driver and ask them to call 911 on your behalf once in cell range. If the vehicle is in a safe and drivable condition, you can continue on and report the incident and damages with Explore Rentals and your insurance company later. If it is not-drivable, you will need to get the vehicle towed to the Collision Center of Belgrade, 100 W Northern Pacific Ave, Belgrade, MT 59714. This will be at your cost, but will often be reimbursed by your insurance company. RCP insurance purchased through Explore Rentals does not cover towing expense. It is often worth calling your insurance company to arrange. If you are in Yellowstone you will need to contact the National Park Service, (307) 344-7381. Outside of Yellowstone, as long as no other vehicles were involved and no property was damaged, you can fill out a Montana Highway Patrol report later. IF another vehicle or property was damaged you must contact Montana Highway Patrol (406) 587-4525. or 911 to file a report . If the animal is still alive, these numbers can also help with humanely dispatching the animal.
Once everything is safe, you can contact Explore Rentals for additional assistance. Our after-hours cell phone number is 406-580-8309. Please make sure to leave a voicemail if we do not pick-up. Someone is on call, but we will not answer unrecognized numbers after hours. We will do our best to accommodate and make the rest of your trip easy. We are usually able to give you another rental car to finish your trip.
I got a flat tire
Although this is unlikely, it does happen. First things first, pull over to a safe location, away from traffic. Most likely, you have picked up a nail or similar object on the road. This stinks, but it is the renter’s responsibility. The least expensive and fastest option is to put spare on vehicle and drive to the nearest tire repair shop. Pretty much every small town in Montana has a guy that can patch tires. This is usually about $20 to repair, and gets you back on the road safe and fast. You must alert Explore Rentals of this event. If the tire is unrepairable, please contact Explore Rentals. This also is the renter’s responsibility. Hopefully we have a used tire on-site with similar tread depth we can use. If not, we will try to be as fair as possible with the cost of tire replacement. Renter’s are not authorized to replace tires on our vehicles without permission. Our Subaru Outbacks will incur severe transmission damage if a tire with more than 1/32″ of tread depth difference or a different tread pattern tire is used. The renter will be held fully accountable in this situation. Any questions, just give us a call and we help can straighten out.
The car broke down/ something has gone wrong
We go to great lengths to make sure all of our cars are in excellent operating condition. However, things do happen: extremely unlikely, but of course not impossible. The most common problem is a dead battery in our Subaru Outbacks. 99% of the time this is caused by the interior light on the roof of cargo compartment being left on. It is a very bad design from Subaru; the switch can inadvertently get bumped on. Easiest thing to do is to ask any Montanan for a jump- pretty much everyone has jumpers in their car. Other common scenarios is the “Low Oil” light comes on the Subarus. Every Subaru burns a little oil. Please add liter of 0w 20 full synthetic oil. Save the receipt and we will reimburse you. 5W30 for the Suburbans- but that almost never happens. Sometimes windshield wipers give out mid-trip. Buy another set and save us the receipt, we will reimburse you. Same for ice scrapers.
The other odd foible that we have had with the Outbacks, and occasional Suburbans, is an evaporative leak causing numerous dash lights to go off. Usually the check engine light, ABS light, and traction control light will be on. Most likely (99% of the time) this is due to a loose gas cap. First thing to check is if the gas cap is tight. If it is, the warning lights will typically clear with 6 engine cycles (starting up, running a little bit, shutting off and cooling down). If the warning lights persist, please contact Explore Rentals.
We have been very fortunate with very few instances of cars actually breaking down. Please contact Explore Rentals if something does happen. We do everything possible to rectify the situation.
I got a rock chip/ cracked windshield
It stinks, but it happens. If you get a chip, best thing to do is get it repaired yourself in order to prevent the windshield from splitting. Usually about $30. This is what we typically charge if the vehicle is returned with a new, repairable, chip. If the chip has “legs” more than 1/4″, unfortunately we are most likely not able to safely repair the chip and will need to charge for a new windshield. Windshields are like tires, and are the renters responsibility. We will note any existing windshield chips on the rental contract, so if a split originates from a pre-existing chip, the current renter is not charged for a new windshield.