The holiday season is about to start and one of the most popular travel choices is to reach our destination by plane or train and once there, hire a car to move around. If this is what you are planning to do here we give you a few tips to consider in order to have a problem-free experience and avoid paying more than you budgeted for:
- Hire online: If you know when and where you are going on holidays the cheapest option is hiring your car online. Also the earlier you do it the better as you will have more vehicles to choose from at more competitive prices. You should know that in any case you are not hiring a specific make and model but a type of vehicle of certain dimensions and characteristics. If you wait to be at your destination to sort out your hire car you will have to make-do with what is left and usually at a higher price.
- Choose the type of company: You can hire your car through an international company with a wider range of vehicles, prices and offers or through a local company, usually cheaper but with less vehicles to choose from. It is very useful to use a comparison website to know what each different company has to offer.
- Car insurance: the standard car insurance offered with your hire vehicle tends to just cover the basics i.e. third party damage with excesses that in case of an accident ascend to 500 to 1000 Euros. It is therefore advisable to extend our coverage to fully comprehensive to include theft and personal injury. Hire companies tend to always offer this option when you process your request.
- Credit card: you will need a credit card (not debit) associated to the main driver and, if you are under 25, they might charge you extra or, in some cases, not let you hire a car altogether. If there is going to be more than one of you driving the car you should let the hire company know in advance and pay the corresponding surcharge.
Car pick up and drop off
- Car pick up: when you pick up your hire car they might not have the exact model that you requested but they will give you a similar one. If they don’t have a similar one they might offer one of a higher category but in this case they must not rise the agreed price. Before leaving the rental premises you must check the vehicle over meticulously and, if necessary, take dated photos of any damage you find (in which case you should also include it in your contract with the hire company to avoid any later discrepancy). You should also make sure that all the booking information and personal data in the contract are correct.
- Full tank: each company has its own policy regarding this but generally all give you the full tank option. They will hand you the car on a full tank and you must return it likewise. By doing this you can choose the cheapest petrol station to fill up, otherwise the hire company will charge a penalty that is always higher than what the full tank would have costed.
- Careful with the extras: as a general rule hire companies will try and sneak in some extras (within the insurance, GPS…) which of course will push up the final price.
- Drop off: if you think that you are going to be late dropping your car off you might as well hire it for an extra day as this tends to be cheaper than paying the late drop off penalty. When you return the vehicle you might want to take some photos again with the date and time. During the following month keep an eye on your bank account in case they have charged you any extra cost and you need to make a claim.
- Remember: when you hire a car the rules are exactly the same as if you were driving your own vehicle. If you are caught speeding, you pay the fine. The company knows exactly who was driving the car at the time and you are not going to get away with it. If you have an accident, as small as this is, always phone the police and hire company straight away to avoid any future unnecessary complications.
- Questions: of course before signing anything away read the small print and all the clauses thoroughly and make sure to ask anything that is not sufficiently clear.